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The Fake Fence Fiasco UPDATED
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***scroll for updates…hasty declarations…

Update: 10/1012:57am. Sigh. The perils of blogging while traveling. It looks like Mickey was wrong– and I was wrong to pull out a premature I-told-you-so on the pocket veto claim. And this one item won’t be a reason for sitting out the election. Xrlq lays into me. Point taken, though nothing he says rebuts my argument that many other more immediate immigration enforcement steps could and should have been taken ahead of this fence gesture. Ed Morrissey has more on how the actual signing is being delayed until closer to election time.

Which is the problem with the GOP’s immigration strategy–always putting politics above actual enforcement.***

Well, I hate to say I told you so. But I told you so.

On Sept. 14, I wrote:

Yes, I know. The House voted to approve a 700-mile fence at the southern border…But forgive me if I don’t break out the pom-poms over this. There’s no funding for the fence, which will take years to build if it ever does get funded. There are so many other immediate reforms that could have been adopted this year that would have strengthened immigration enforcement, closed deportation loopholes immediately, and provided true relief at the border. (And don’t even get me started on this administration’s renewed laxity at the front door, which has been thrown open to tens of thousands of new Saudi student visa holders while enforcement against millions of current visa overstayers remain virtually non-existent.)

The 700-mile fence vote is an election season gesture, and grass-roots conservatives who have watched the GOP squander away this issue afor six years are not going to be appeased by mid-September 2006 gesture politics.

Now, Mickey Kaus at is raising alarm bells over whether President Bush actually signed the Secure Fence Act during a grand ceremony in Arizona and whether a pocket veto will occur:

Is Bush going to sign the 700-mile border fence bill (the Secure Fence Act), passed with great fanfare by Congress a little over a week ago? According to an AP story from Friday:

President Bush has not yet signed the Secure Fence Act

That signing ceremony he held last Wednesday in Arizona, it turns out, was only for a Homeland Security appropriations bill that included “$1.2 billion for border fencing.” It wasn’t the Secure Fence Act.

We’re approaching pocket veto territory here, aren’t we? Under the Constitution Bush has 10 days to sign the bill into law–a deadline that would seem to be rapidly approaching.

More Kaus:

Yes, I find it hard to believe that Bush would double-cross the pro-fence Republican base like that, a month before an election. I hope somebody sends me an e-mail soon to say I’m wrong. But you can’t read the above passages without thinking the White House was at least trying to create the option of a pocket veto, hidden under the diversion of an appropriations-bill signing.

Rob Port at Say Anything has been monitoring the White House and explains further:

The legislation went to the President on September 29th, and the Constitution gives the President 10 days to either veto it or sign it into law. If Congress is in session and the President doesn’t sign or veto legislation it becomes law by default. But if Congress isn’t in session when the 10 days are up (and Congress has already recessed for the campaign season), the law doesn’t become law. It is essentially vetoed with no chance for an override vote in Congress. This is called a pocket veto.

I’ve been watching the news page on the White House website and I’ve yet to see any indication that the President is going to sign this legislation into law. If the President doesn’t sign this it will be a rather hard slap in the face for his conservative base, and today (by my count) is the last day he can do it before the time limit expires.

Republicans have been telling their base that, although many of them still support “path to citizenship” and amnesty legislation for illegals already in this country, they are committed to securing our southern border and this Security Fence Act is a testament to that. If that all turns out to be a bunch of hot air, a ruse to placate conservative voters concerned about illegal immigration, this Republican is going to be very upset with his party.

And I don’t think I’ll be the only one.

I’ve placed a call to the White House asking what’s going on. Will let you know if and what I hear back. A reader e-mails that “Sundays are not included in the pocket veto. This means the deadline is Wednesday by my calculations.”

Meantime, there’s this item from US News and World Report out yesterday that underscores what I said last month:

Although the Congressional Budget Office estimates it will cost $3.2 million a mile, Congress voted to hand DHS just $1.2 billion in fiscal year 2007 for construction; that would cover the cost of about 370 miles of fence, not 700. What’s more, a congressional deal gives DHS the flexibility to use money for other purposes besides the wall itself, most notably technology and roadways. Some of the money could go to a project DHS was already working on: a plan to dot the border with up to 1,800 massive observation towers equipped with cameras. Michael Jackson, the No. 2 official at DHS, says the department plans “to refine and assess how much [steel fencing] we need with the new technology tool kit.” DHS, he adds, will most likely build “somewhere in the ballpark” of 370 miles of San Diego-style fence.

The bill offers DHS other kinds of wiggle room on the fence as well. In a last-minute effort to appease two Republican holdouts-including Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who had concerns about local input on the location of fencing -congressional leaders committed in writing to changing some specific aspects of the legislation after the November elections. Those changes will ensure that local governments and American Indian tribes will be consulted “regarding the exact placement of the fence,” according to a letter signed by Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. The letter also says DHS will have the “flexibility to use alternative physical infrastructure and technology when fencing is ineffective or impractical.” Some say that means large portions of the fence bill are basically moot. Others disagree. “A letter is just a letter,” says Carolyn Weyforth, Frist’s press secretary. “What comes to the floor and passes is what matters.”

South of the border, Mexico is confident it will prevail over the U.S.:

The Mexican government this week sent a diplomatic note to Washington criticizing the plan for 700 miles of new fencing along the border. Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez called it an “offense” and said Wednesday his office was considering taking the issue to the United Nations.

But Ruben Aguilar, the spokesman for President Vicente Fox, said Thursday that Mexico had ruled out that possibility. He added he was “confident” the additional fencing would never become a reality because an immigration accord would eventually replace it.

Allah is prepared to vote straight Dem ticket in NY.


I think I’m just going to sit it out. As if it were possible, the White House has succeeded in demoralizing the base even further with this latest bungle. And it has no one to blame–not Democrats, not the media, not a far-Left cabal–but itself.


No word from the White House, but Kathryn Lopez at The Corner posts this from RNC ecampaigns director Patrick Ruffini. Doesn’t address the fence-undermining loopholes, of course, but here it is:

There has been some speculation in the blogosphere today that President Bush would not sign the Secure Fence Act, after signing a bill for funding border fencing last week. This is not the case. President Bush will sign the Secure Fence Act.

The CNN clip from President Bush cited by Mickey Kaus is the definitive record on this, and reflects his intention to sign the bill.

Let me know if you have any further questions on this.

Keep an eye on Captain’s Quarters for more.

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Immigration, Southern Border