Friday, July 1, 2011

Nogales officials split on new border wall

United Press International
June 30, 2011

NOGALES, Ariz., June 30 (UPI) -- A rusty metal wall will be replaced by a high-tech, see-through fence along the U.S.-Mexico border between Nogales, Ariz., and Nogales, Sonora, officials say.

It's meant to be both more aesthetically pleasing and bolster border security, but some see it as just a bigger, more impregnable symbol of what further divides, rather than unites, people on the two sides, The Arizona Republic reports.

Tucson Mayor Arturo Garino said the new fence, with steel beams set in concrete, improves security and looks much better than the barbed wire or chain-link fence that once divided the cities.

"Of course, a lot of people (in Nogales) would not like to have a fence at all, but times have changed after 9/11," Garino said. "It's 100 times better than what was there."

Olivia Ainza, president and chief executive of the Nogales-Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerce, called the new fence "ugly" and said its "jail-like" look sends a negative message to Mexicans on the Sonora side of the border, part of the 372 1/2 miles of U.S.-Mexico divide bordering Arizona.

Anger among Mexicans could keep them from crossing into Arizona to shop, hurting U.S. businesses, Ainza said.

"I agree we have to keep our country safe," she said. "But I know we could have done better than the fence they are putting up there that is very intimidating."

Agent Eric Cantu, a spokesman for the U.S. Border control, said the old fence made it much easier than the new one does to cross the border.

"The other fence was easier to compromise. You could get under it, over it and through it," Cantu said.

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