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Hunter Pushes Border Fence Legislation

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

Republican Representative Duncan Hunter is putting pressure on the Homeland Security department to build 700 miles of fence along the U.S. Mexico border. President Bush recently signed a law to authorize the fence … but lawmakers are reportedly finding ways to avoid its construction. KPBS Radio’s Andrew Phelps reports.

The text of the law says the Homeland Security Secretary “shall build” a border fence. Hunter says the law doesn’t say should build or can build. But the Washington Post reports some lawmakers are interpreting that phrase more loosely. Hunter authored the border-fence provision … and he says it’s cut-and-dry.

Hunter: What part of shall don’t they understand? This is not discretionary. It’s not optional. We’re going to build 700 miles of fence. And we should be able to start fairly quickly.

Hunter wants to barricade the entire 2,000 mile Mexico border with double-layered fencing. But the cost for the first leg of the project is eight billion dollars … and Congress has only authorized just over a billion dollars. For KPBS, I’m Andrew Phelps.

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