A government audit released Thursday said it will cost taxpayers $6.5 billion over the next 20 years to maintain fencing along the U.S-Mexico border.
Despite the high price tag attached to maintaining the fence, authorities have not found a way to determine whether it has helped control illegal immigration, according to a new report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The report also states that as of May 14, 2009, that there have been 3,363 breaches in the fence. Each breach costs about $1,300 to fix, states the GAO.
The $6.5 billion price tag is in addition to the $2.4 billion that has already been spent building more than 600 miles of fence segments along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The fence, an initiative from the Bush administration, has faced several delays and cost increases. The technology portion of the government's plan to secure the border continues to be delayed, states the GAO report. Until the technology portion is complete, the Border Patrol will not know if the security measures are working.
Charles Pope of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego is not surprised by the cost of maintaining the border fence. Pope said he thought that those billions of dollars would be better spent helping Mexico improve its economy. He said that a stronger Mexican economy would encourage Mexicans to stay and work in their own county instead oif trying to cross illegally into the U.S.
The fence has been called a "serious challenge" by chairman of the House Homeland Security committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson.
Boeing Co. has the contract for the technology portion. Tim Peters, Boeing's vice president of global security, said the company has learned valuable lessons and that it's not "uncommon" to run into unexpected technological challenges in projects such as this, according to the Associated Press.
The government report states that the border fence will likely be completed in 2016.