Perils of assimilation

If only life came with subtitles.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Nice going, guys

The 1.5-mile barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border was designed to keep cars from illegally crossing into the United States. There's just one problem: It was accidentally built on Mexican soil. Now embarrassed border officials say the mistake could cost the federal government more than $3 million to fix.

James Johnson, whose onion farm is in the disputed area, said he thinks his forefathers may have started the confusion in the 19th century by placing a barbed-wire fence south of the border. No one discovered their error, and crews erecting the barrier may have used that fence as a guideline.

The Mexican government was notified and did what any landowner would do: They sent a note politely insisting that Mexico get its land back.

"Our country will continue insisting for the removal (of the fence) to be done as quickly as possible," the Foreign Relations Department said in a diplomatic missive to Washington.

When the barrier was built in 2000, the project was believed to cost about $500,000 a mile. Estimates to uproot and replace it range from $2.5 million to $3.5 million.

Michael Friel, the spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, said the barrier was "built on what was known to be the international boundary at the time." He acknowledged the method used was "less precise than it is today."


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