You are on page 1of 3



Talking Points for 2008 Omnibus Provisions Regarding Fence

 Secretary Chertoff has committed that DHS will have built a total of 370 miles of pedestrian
fence along the southwest border by the end of CY 2008. By the end of FY 2007, CBP had
more than 145 miles of pedestrian fencing completed along the southwest border. By the end
of CY 2008, an additional 225 miles will be built to meet the 370 mile objective.

 Four main factors contribute to fence location decisions: (1) the initial Border Patrol
operational assessments; (2) input from stakeholders, including landowners; (3)
environmental assessments; and (4) engineering assessments, which include the cost to
construct. Each of these steps is a standard element of the planning process that enables us to
make informed decisions in deploying the right mix of tactical infrastructure.

 Operational assessments by the local Border Patrol Agents and Chiefs – based on illegal
cross-border activity and the Border Patrol’s extensive field experience – identified multiple
locations where fencing or vehicle barriers would most effectively enhance border security.
These assessments recommended a total of roughly 370 miles of fencing along the southwest
border’s 2,000 miles.

 The FY 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Act includes two requirements related to assessing the
potential impact on local communities due to construction of fencing:

- The Border Security Fencing, Infrastructure, and Technology (BSFIT) appropriation

makes $650 million contingent upon the submission of an expenditure plan; this plan
would require an analysis of each fence segment (of no more than 15 miles) to include
alternatives, costs, and “possible unintended effects on communities.”

- The bills also amends the current authorization law to include a requirement to perform
consultations, stating:

In carrying out this section, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall consult with the
Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Agriculture, States, local governments,
Indian tribes, and property owners in the United States to minimize the impact on the
environment, culture, commerce, and quality of life for the communities and residents
located near the sites at which such fencing is to be constructed.

 DHS and CBP do not view these as new requirements, as the assessment of effects on local
communities and regular consultation are part of our standard planning process that enables
us to make informed decisions in deploying tactical infrastructure in the most effective and
prudent way.

 In alignment with the appropriations direction, DHS and CBP will construct infrastructure
where it is the most appropriate means to achieve and maintain effective control over the
international border.




 Since May 2007, DHS has engaged in extensive discussions about the placement of the
remaining 225 miles of fencing with state and local stakeholders, including landowners, to
ensure that our investments effectively balance border security with the diverse needs of
those that live in border communities. As part of these outreach efforts, DHS has contacted
almost 600 different landowners and held 18 town hall meetings.

 However, consultation does not mean stakeholders have veto power over operational
assessments. Stakeholder input is one element of our decision-making process, but locations
will be based upon operational needs.

 Through this consultation, we have identified, and will continue to identify, areas where we
can make accommodations that balance operational needs with the other elements in our
decision-making process.

 There are many instances where we were able to modify our original plans to accommodate
landowner/community input while still meeting our operational needs. Some of these
changes include:

- We made numerous alignment changes to the Rio Grande Valley segments to limit
impacts to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) National Wildlife Refuge areas, a bird
watching observation facility in the City of Roma, and negate the need to relocate
approximately 30 residences.

The fence alignment at the Roma Port of Entry (POE) was initially proposed to be on top
of a 30-foot bluff because we were not sure if it could be built below, due to flood plain
issues. During our site visit in September, it was determined that placing the fence at the
top of the bluff would impact historical buildings and brought about constructability
issues. Building the fence on the bottom of the bluff would also make better operational
sense. Based on these findings, U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and
USFWS agreed that the fence would be placed at the bottom of the bluff.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife doesn’t have any property around the Roma POE but supports the
placing of the fence at the base of the bluff with the condition that brush removal will be
minimal on both sides of the fence.

Schematics of this approach will be submitted to International Boundary and Water

Commission for approval.

- In Del Rio, Texas, we relocated an approximately 2.3 mile segment to negate the need to
relocate approximately 10-12 residences.

- In San Diego, California, we changed the alignment of a segment to significantly reduce

the impacts to the Otay Mountain Wilderness area.




 An important part of Customs and Border Protection’s decision-making process is the formal
environmental review process required by the National Environmental Policy Act —known
as “NEPA.” 13 areas are evaluated during the preparation of NEPA documents including:

- Land Use, Geology and Soils;

- Biological and Water Resources;
- Cultural Resources;
- Air Quality and Noise;
- Aesthetics and Visual Resources; and
- Socioeconomics.

 The environmental review process includes extensive consultation with federal, state and
local officials, landowners, and the public.

- Federal agencies including the Fish and Wildlife Service, IBWC, et al are included in the
review process.

- Over 800 comments were received in response to the RGV scoping sessions and 800 to
960 people attended the Draft EIS Information sessions.

 The environmental planning process includes an evaluation of options to mitigate – avoid,

minimize, reduce, or compensate for -- the potential impact of the project on affected local

 Fencing is but one element of DHS’s layered defense plan to gain effective control of our
Nation’s borders. Our comprehensive plan includes additional, substantial investments in
technology, infrastructure and enforcement personnel.

 DHS will deploy the right mix of technology, tactical infrastructure, and personnel to secure
each mile of the border as quickly and efficiently as possible.

 Fencing and technology are complementary tools. Technology allows the Border Patrol to
identify and track illegal activity. Fencing gives Border Patrol agents time they need to
respond to illegal cross border activity. A combination of technology and tactical
infrastructure best allows Border Patrol to do their job safely and effectively.

 The Border Patrol has been erecting and employing fence for years. Fencing is not a new
approach, but has been an effective border security measure for over two decades.

 In the past, the Border Patrol has received support for fencing and been recognized as the
experts on border security. Only recently has politics been applied to fencing. This doesn’t
change the fact that it is still operationally sound and necessary.

 Prior to the current effort, CBP had a total of 75 miles of pedestrian fence along segments of
the southwest border. CBP completed over 70 miles of new fence during fiscal year 2007,
nearly doubling miles of border fence.