El Paso Times
January 10, 2009
EL PASO -- The U.S. border fence in the El Paso region is about 80 percent finished, and the rest should be done within a few weeks, officials said.
The fence -- part of the Customs and Border Protection's Secure Border Initiative -- was supposed to be completed by the end of December, said Lloyd Easterling, spokesman at the Border Patrol's national office in Washington.
"We didn't meet our earlier goal," he said, "but that part of the fence will be finished as soon as possible, within a few weeks, and within budget."
The U.S. government awarded contracts to several vendors for 45.62 miles of fence, from El Paso's northwest side to the Fort Hancock border crossing, according to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Fort Worth.
As of Jan. 2, 34.67 miles of fence had been completed as far as the Rio Bosque Park in the Lower Valley, where a fence protester was arrested last month.
Due to the varied terrain, the fencing is not continuous, and some parts of the border don't have fencing.
Easterling said $172 million for the fence and technology was allocated in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, and additional $775 million was requested to pay for the initiative in the new fiscal year that began Oct. 1.
"A couple of attempts to breach the new fence were reported, but they were unsuccessful," said Doug Mo sier, spokesman for the Border Patrol-El Paso sector. "We have contractors who will make repairs if the fence is ever damaged."
When the project is finished, Border Patrol officials will have a total of 670 miles of fence to help them safeguard the El Paso-area border against illegal immigration, terrorists and drug-traffickers, the officials said.
Diana Washington Valdez may be reached at email@example.com; 546-6140