Left Begins Effort to Publicize Gaps in Border Fence
A coalition of investigative journalists to include the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) recently announced a public project to map border infrastructure used to hopefully minimize unlawful crossing and other illegal activities. While the effort is understandably time-consuming and leads to frustration when clearly seeing much of the border unfenced--security experts argue the key is proper placement, rather than blanket coverage with infrastructure.
The Center for Investigative Reporting’s map of a U.S./Mexico border fence, or lack thereof, offers a seeming disparity of border assets allocated—leaving viewers to assume that Texas is left largely un-guarded compared to the relative coverage enjoyed by California, Arizona and New Mexico. Breitbart Texas’ Contributing Editor Sylvia Longmire downplayed concerns potentially felt when witnessing the gaps of fence.
“The most notable gap runs along most of the Texas-Mexico border, and while this looks alarming from a map view, it's important to remember that geographic features act as natural deterrents to smugglers and illegal immigrants in most of these areas,” Longmire said. “However, the problem becomes very apparent when you start looking at the patchwork of fence sections in south Texas where construction is challenged by the levee system and winding river. Not every mile of border needs a barrier, but there are many sections both unfenced and fenced that could use a lot of reinforcement.”
The CIR detailed its efforts with federal agencies to collect existing maps and information through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), but was reportedly unsuccessful—citing a number of appeals where they were told such data were sensitive for border security concerns. That experience served as a catalyst for developing the map.
Longmire considers the federal government’s excuse off the mark.
“The excuse that it's sensitive information that can be exploited by drug and human smugglers is bunk; traffickers and ‘coyotes’ know every square inch of that border, and it's not like new sections of the fence go up overnight,” Longmire added.
Breitbart Texas managing Director Brandon Darby largely agreed with Longmire's analysis. He has covered the Texas border with Mexico extensively for Breitbart News and stated, "So much of my previous work was the result of walking the border, seeing it with my own eyes. There are simply many areas that are completely unprotected." He added, "I found a vast region near El Paso where the Rio Grande River was less than two feet wide and the only security was a three-strand barbed wire fence a rancher had erected."
In Darby's analysis, the entire discussion about a wall on the border has gone on for too long. He said, "We found several unfinished parts of the fence in residential areas. They had been left unfinished for years. Many would prefer to debate this issue ad nauseam rather than simply allowing more human beings to guard our porous border. The U.S. Border Patrol has a pay reform package they have sought to get passed so that more of them can be on the border and can actually perform the task their administrators seem hellbent on keeping them from accomplishing."
According to both the CIR and Longmire, the effort to map the fence is technically ongoing until each section of the border that can be improved with fencing or other boundary assets have been constructed. Understanding such, the mapping project was hosted on OpenStreetMap for other public parties to later adjust or add new sections.
Follow Logan Churchwell on Twitter @LCChurchwell