Border Security Task Force focus on border fence, roads

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

By Kevin Buey The Deming Headlight, N.M.
Publication: LexisNexis
Date: Tuesday, February 2 2010

Feb. 2–Discussion of fences and roads occupied the Border Security Task Force, as it met Friday morning at Mimbres Valley Learning Center.

It was the year’s first BSTF meeting. The group was formed in 2003, at request of U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., to address problems reported by border-area residents, including ranchers and farmers, resulting from passage over private property of illegal immigrants.

Fences and roads have been an on-going discussion.

Roads have been damaged due to increased U.S. Border Patrol traffic resulting from increased numbers of agents at area stations, particularly the Deming Station.

At least two ranchers are to meet with Deming Patrol Agent in Charge Daniel Serrato regarding recent damage to graded roads resulting from USBP traffic even as rain made the roads more difficult to navigate. Since USBP numbers began increasing, even paved roads have worn more quickly due to increased USBP vehicle traffic.

There are a variety of fences along the New Mexico-Mexico border. Some do little to stop infiltration of illegal immigrants and even less to stop movement of livestock from either side of the border the other.

Les Owen, a range resources specialist with the New Mexico Department of Agriculture at New Mexico State University, has worked with a subcommittee examining fences and needed improvements.

There is, he said, using a power point presentation to show the landscape moving West from the state’s Eastern side, need for 16 to 17 miles of fence with three rails, an area of post-only fencing that needs four rails, 8.5 miles of fencing needing three rails and additional height, 2.5 miles where erosion control must be addressed and 18 miles where 16-foot cattle guards with gates are needed.

A good point, he said, is there are 86 miles of vehicle barriers in place on the border. The elephant in the room, though, is 65 miles of barbed-wire fencing being maintained by ranchers.

Fences vary. There are post-and-rail barriers, Normandy barriers (some with rails added), free-standing columns affording easy passage for man or wildlife and barbed-wire fences. Erosion in some areas has left different fence sections without much ground support and space for man and beast to crawl under.

Greg Bloom, state director of Bingaman’s office, said Bingaman is aware of concerns and will continue pushing for financing for fencing when the task force makes a proposal for addressing the problem.

Bloom, who attended Friday’s meeting, for several years was Bingaman’s regional field representative and at BSTF meetings. His slot in Bingaman’s Las Cruces office has been taken by Jake Rollow.

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