President Bush today signed the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which passed the House with Pombo dutifully nodding his head up and down like the right-wing robot that he is. Here, believe it or not, is what our soon-to-be retired representative had to say:
Sept. 14, 2006, WASHINGTON – Congressman Richard Pombo (R-Tracy) issued the following statement after voting for the Secure Fence Act of 2006 (HR 6061), legislation that directs the Department of Homeland Security to take necessary steps in protecting America’s borders:You know, when I read something like this that is so disconnected from reality, so full of distortions, and so blatantly using "terror", "safety", and "fear" to manipulate voters, that I just want to weep for the depths our country has sunk to. Not only is this guy in Congress, but also has a chance of getting re-elected!
Securing America’s borders is a critical step in stemming the tide of illegal immigration and a lynchpin to our defense against terrorists. Our local communities need to know that we are doing everything possible to ensure their security, and this bill continues to make the safety of our families our first priority. We must have control of our borders; a vote against border security is akin to handing our front door keys to the terrorists.
First of all, any sane person, that is, anyone who does not froth at the mouth when they hear Spanish over the loudspeakers at Home Depot, knows that POOR MEXICAN FARMWORKERS and TERRORISTS are two COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THINGS.
Second, a $1.2 billion, 700-mile border fence is going to do VERY LITTLE to stop these Mexican workers from crossing the border and nothing to stop any terrorists (who came in via Canada in 9-11, by the way). It will enrich the contractor that builds and maintains it (that wouldn't be Haliburton, would it?). Even if a fence was remotely a good idea (it's not), with the length of the US-Mexico border at 1,951 miles, a 700-mile fence still leaves 1,251 miles to go.
Third, anyone who has ever visited the border, as I have in California, Arizona, and Texas, knows that it is virtually impossible to patrol. I have been on the US shore of the Rio Grande, and watched how, in a matter of minutes, a truck drove up on the Mexico side, people quickly got out, pulled a small boat out of the bushes, rowed across the river, while another truck sped to the boat launch on the US side and picked up the people as they got out of the boat, then sped away. The one person still in the boat rowed back, hid the boat, and got in his truck and left. This was all in about 10 minutes.
Fourth, if the concern is truly terrorists, then that leaves not only the remaining 1,251 miles of the US-Mexico border, but also the Canada-Us border of 5500 miles (4000 along lower 48 states, another 1500 with Alaska), the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico, plus also all the territories and outlying areas and islands. Another story -- I stayed on the west coast of Puerto Rico one time, and we were warned to watch for people from the Dominican Republic who crossed the Mona Passage by boat and washed up on the beaches there. The point is, there is no way a fence would ever work. Even if it were possible to fence in the entire US in barbed wire, is that something anyone would want anyway? It would be an insane thing to even attempt. It is crazy these Republicans want to fence even 700 miles of the border.
I could go on and on about the inanity of what Pombo is saying. But the most galling is the rampant racism in it. He says "stemming the tide of illegal immigrants" and then "this bill continues to make the safety of our families our first priority". So, Pombo are you protecting your family from terrorists or from Mexican farmworkers? How slimy and conniving a tactic that is, equating poor Mexicans seeking a better life in America with terrorists out to destroy it.
Let's face it, the Act is a xenophobic, election-year measure, designed for one purpose -- to play to the fears and prejudices of the voters by mixing illegal immigrants with terrorists, and making it look like the Republicans are doing something about "the safety of our families". Actually, the Act does nothing about neither -- neither "securing our borders" nor "defending against terrorism". The fence, if ever built, will stand as a monument to the ignorance, ineptitude, and corruption of this Congress -- as well as how desperate Pombo and the other Republicans were to win votes this election.
The Act stinks. Pombo voting for it was bad enough, but his trying to justify it with his racist and pandering comments is just plain disgusting.
See also this earlier post here on Pombo's immigration stance.
Update: Mexico's president-elect calls fence a "huge error":
The United States committed a "huge error" in choosing to build a wall between itself and its southern neighbor, Mexico's president-elect Felipe Calderon said during a state visit to Canada, comparing it with the Berlin Wall. "The wall will not solve any problem. Humanity made a huge mistake by building the Berlin Wall, and I believe that today the United States is committing a grave error in building the wall on our border," he said.