Prominent House Republican Calls for Completion of Border Fence

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), chair of the House Armed Services Committee, called on the Bush administration today to complete a major fence project along the westernmost portion of the U.S.-Mexico border despite concerns that such a project could harm habitat for threatened and endangered birds. The California Coastal Commission last month denied the Department of Homeland Security’s request to fill in canyons and build fences along 3.5 miles of border that abut the Pacific Ocean. The commission ruled that the security benefits of the $58 million fence project were outweighed by the environmental harm, a ruling Hunter called “reckless and dangerous” in a letter to DHS Secretary Tom Ridge. If overruled, the commission will likely sue, but even if it wins in federal court, President Bush has the power to disregard the decision.