(CNSNews.com) – Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas) said at a Heritage Foundation event on Tuesday that building a fence along the entire U.S. border with Mexico is problematic.
“You have a lot of different issues at play here,” including private and public land issues, Weber said at the Conversations with Conservatives event on Capitol Hill.
“But there’s hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of miles along the almost 1,200-mile Texas border where a double-fence, for example, wouldn’t make sense,” he said.
At the event, CNSNews.com asked the panel of Republicans about the Secure Fence Act of 2006.
“In 2006, Congress enacted the Secure Fence Act that mandated DHS build a double border fence, with a road, lighting, cameras and sensors, from 15 miles west of Laredo all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico,” CNSNews.com said.
“This is exactly where the border crisis is now,” CNSNews.com continued, referring to the almost 60,000 unaccompanied minors that have come into the country illegally in recent months.
“The mandate for the double-fence was gutted by language inserted into a Continuing Resolution by (former) Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas). The fence was never built. Should that fence have been built? Should Congress mandate that Obama build it now?” CNSNews.com asked.
“You have a lot of different issues at play here,” Weber said. “A lot of the landowners along the Texas border don’t necessarily want the fence built on their property.
“You’ve got the Big Bend National Park there, which has some rules that agents can’t go in there,” Weber said. “Those rules need to be changed.
Weber said in some “hot beds of traffic,” a fence would make sense.
“But there’s hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of miles along the almost 1,200-mile Texas border where a double-fence, for example, wouldn’t make sense,” Weber said.
A July 2011 Politifact article analyzing President Barack Obama’s contention that the border fence was “now basically complete” found the statement to be “mostly false.” The article said the issue dates back to the Secure Fence Act and the amendment that gutted the law.
“Responding to urging from the Department of Homeland Security – which argued that different border terrains required different types of fencing, that a one-size-fits-all approach across the entire border didn’t make sense – Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) proposed an amendment to give DHS the discretion to decide what type of fence was appropriate in different areas,” the article stated.
“The law was amended to read, ‘nothing in this paragraph shall require the Secretary of Homeland Security to install fencing, physical barriers, roads, lighting, cameras, and sensors in a particular location along an international border of the United States, if the Secretary determines that the use or placement of such resources is not the most appropriate means to achieve and maintain operational control over the international border at such location.’
“In other words,” the Politifact article stated, “Border Patrol would have the leeway to decide which type of fencing was appropriate in various regions.”
The article also quoted Hutchison’s remarks on her amendment: “At the time, Hutchison told the San Antonio Express-News, ‘Border patrol agents reported that coyotes and drug-runners were altering their routes as fencing was deployed, so the amendment gives our agents discretion to locate the fence where necessary to achieve operational control of our border.’
Hutchinson’s amendment was added to the federal budget bill in late 2007.
Weber also said the president does not enforce laws passed by Congress.
“Can Congress mandate that the president do anything?” Weber asked. “He has ignored the law over and over and over again. That’s why I said earlier that he is the face of the border problem.”