Hutchison skeptical of U.S.-Mexico border fence

Published 2 September 2009

Growing debate in Republican Party circles about the fence along the U.S.-Mexico border; in addition to the effectiveness of a fence in stopping illegal immigration, many point to the cost: the project could cost up to $60 billion over the next 25 years, and involve government seizure of private property

There is grumbling in Republican Party circles in Texas over Republican governor Rick Perry’s dismissal of the notion of building a wall across the state’s Mexican border. This is an issue on which Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is running for governor, seemed positioned to Perry’s right.

Politico’s Ben Smith writes that perhaps this is not the case: A Perry aide is circulating a 2007 Dallas Morning News story headed “Hutchison skeptical of border fence”:

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison expressed deep skepticism Tuesday about fencing the entire U.S.-Mexican border — a project that could cost up to $60 billion over the next 25 years.

Do we need security all the way across the border? Yes. And I want to know what is the best way to get that security, and I think it is important that we talk to people that live with it every day,” she said. “It doesn’t seem like Congress was really in the real world.”

Smith notes that though both Texas senators voted for the fence, they later moderate their positions as the extremely high cost of buying the land and erecting the barrier became clear. From the story:

Fences are already in place or under construction in and around El Paso, Laredo, San Diego and other border cities, and, Ms. Hutchison said, “the fence is the right thing in some places.”

On the border I have heard a lot of negative about the fence,” she said. “They want border security. But they certainly don’t want to be dictated that they’re going to have double or triple layers of chain link fences in places they have buildings.”

Hutchison spokesman Joe Pounder e-mailed this to Smith: “Kay Bailey Hutchison has a long record of supporting and voting for a border fence. However, unlike Rick Perry, she does not believe that the government should be in the business of confiscating private property and destroying people’s homes. That’s why she has fought to ensure that Texans living along the border had their voices heard on how and where a fence was built. We’ll stack up Kay Bailey Hutchison’s record any day against Rick Perry whose major border initiative failed to meet nearly every one of its goals in its first full year of operation.”