Senate's "Surge" Would Station an Agent Every 1,000 Feet Along the Border

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 21 2013 12:05 PM

Senate's "Surge" Would Station an Agent Every 1,000 Feet Along the Border

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A US Border Patrol vehicle drives along the fence seperating the US from Mexico near the town of Nogales, Arizona on April 23, 2010

Photo by Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

As we learned yesterday, the Senate appears to be inching closer to passing a sweeping immigration bill with the support of a decent number of Republicans—something that's seen as a necessity for the measure to have any chance in the GOP-heavy House. My colleague Matthew Yglesias has already broken down some of the proposal's nitty-gritty for you, but I just wanted to flag one nugget from the Los Angeles Times write-up that underscores just how super-sized the so-called "border surge" would be under the compromise:

The plan would add so many new agents to the Border Patrol — 20,000 — that if all were deployed at once, they could be stationed roughly every 250 feet along the border, stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.
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The new agents would be added to the existing force of roughly 18,000 already working. Obviously, all 38,000 would never be deployed all at once, but even if they're working regular shifts, that leaves one every 1,000 feet or so, 24/7, by Reuters' estimation. And that's not all, the deal also provides for the completion of 700 miles of fencing along the border, along with the tripling of the number of drones currently keeping tabs on the area. In all, the military-style buildup is expected to come with a price tag of at least $30 billion, or roughly four times what Senate negotiators had originally proposed.

If that sounds like overkill to you, you're not alone. Even one of the Republicans who helped hammer out the deal to ease GOP concerns over the border was saying almost as much yesterday. "For people who are concerned about border security, once they see what is in this bill, it’s almost overkill," Tennessee Republican Bob Corker said in advance of the roll-out.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

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