HomeNewsBriefBorder Fence Not a Solution, Officials Claim

Border Fence Not a Solution, Officials Claim


Despite the popularity of calls to build a fence along the entire U.S. southern border, some border officials claim that the existing barriers have not been effective at preventing migrants and smugglers from crossing the border illegally.

According to a recent Washington Post investigation, the 649 miles of fencing along the1,969-mile U.S. southern border, while reducing illegal vehicle traffic and serving as a first line of defense against border crossings in some cases, is far from impenetrable. “Without the fencing we wouldn’t have as much time, but nothing is going to stop them from going over or cutting through it,” a Border Patrol employee told the Post. Migrant smugglers often simply use ladders and ropes to transport their human cargo over the barriers, and authorities are constantly finding new cross-border drug smuggling tunnels, as InSight Crime has reported.

InSight Crime Analysis

One major challenge is that the upkeep of the barriers is costly. A 2009 Government Accountability Office report estimates that repairs will cost around $6.5 billion over the next two decades. Despite this, calls to “complete the danged fence” have been popular amongst politicians for the past several years, with Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich even signing a pledge to support the construction of a “double fence” last month.

In place of the physical barriers, evidence suggests that the netowork of sensors, cameras and drones currently in use by border officials is far more effective. A migrant smuggler told the Post that his job has been made much more difficult because of this. "There is too much surveillance now, the Migra [Border Patrol] has cameras everywhere."

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.


What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.


Related Content

FENTANYL / 14 JUL 2022

An announcement by the Mexican government about the largest seizure of illegal fentanyl in the country's history appeared to ignore…

BARRIO 18 / 14 SEP 2022

In the mountains of Michoacán, Mexico, Carlos was trained to become a ruthless soldier for the Cárteles Unidos.


A recent seizure of fentanyl in Mexico has shed further light on the capacity of organized crime groups to mass-produce…

About InSight Crime


Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…


Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…


World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…


InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…


Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…