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Argument: The 700 mile fence would be costly and run over budget

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Parent debate

Supporting evidence

  • Senator Harry Reid (D - Nevada, and the leading Democrat in the 109th Senate) said the fence would cost $7 billion or more, arguing that this was too expensive.[1]
  • $5 billion estimate: "Homeland Security officials told congressional aides it would cost about $5 billion," according to a Washington Post article 9/25/06 - a figure some have used to argue that it is too expensive.
  • The "virtual fence" is projected to cost around $7.6 billion through its completion in 2011, according to a December, 2006 report to Congress by the Department of Homeland Security.[2]
  • "DHS Watchdog Warns 'Fence' Cost Will Grow", Washington Post 11/16/06 - "The Bush administration's proposal to secure the nation's borders with a high-tech "virtual fence" is likely to cost far more than the $2 billion that industry analysts initially estimated, possibly up to $30 billion, a government watchdog agency warned yesterday. According to the Homeland Security Department inspector general, the ambitious plan to deploy sensors, cameras and other surveillance technology along 6,000 miles of the borders with Canada and Mexico runs the risk of runaway costs because of poorly defined objectives and a vastly overstretched contracting staff at the department...'If it's going to cost 8 to 30 billion dollars,' asked Deborah W. Meyers, a senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, '...is that really the most effective way of achieving the policy goal?'...Members of a House homeland security oversight panel stressed yesterday how the government's poor track record on border enforcement undermined their confidence. A much smaller attempt in the 1990s to deploy remote-sensing technology on the border 'started as a $2 million program and turned into a quarter-billion-dollar disaster,' said Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), becoming 'a poster child of government waste and mismanagement.'" - Note that this includes consideration of a "virtual fence" and the broader border security effort that also encompasses the northern border with Canada. It is worth consideration in the context of the 700-mile fence because the "virtual fence" is planned to be integrated with the 700-mile fence, and should therefore be considered along with the costs estimates under consideration in H.R. 6061.
  • GlobalSecurity.org 9/24/06 - "The nation's pursuit of a sealed border would cost taxpayers and businesses tens of billions of dollars." - Note that this includes consideration of a "virtual fence" and the broader border security effort that also encompasses the northern border with Canada.

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