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Border Fence to Carve up Nature Reserve

The Wall is being constructed over the objections of communities living near the border.

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According to local legend, Smugglers Gulch earned its reputation during the Prohibition era of the 1920s and early 1930s, when Tijuana became a destination for U.S. servicemen and thrill seekers. In Mexico, it is known as Canon de Matador, or Slaughter House Canyon, supposedly because goats were slaughtered in the area.

The tops of mesas will be graded down and sections of canyons filled to accommodate an extensive defensive infrastructure that in all likelihood will add to the menace that pervades the border.

According to environmentalists, 100 acres of existing habitat will be compromised within the estuary, placing additional stress on the remaining habitat. "The long-term consequences are unknown," said David Massey, director of education at the San Diego Natural History, when speaking of the triple border fence.

The initial plan met with fierce opposition from environmental groups, who cite concerns that fill from Smugglers Gulch would ultimately choke the wetlands with sedimentation. This would violate federal laws that set aside the estuary as a wildlife refuge and water quality standards. The coastal commission agreed that the project would cause environmental harm and blocked construction.

In September 2005, Michael Chertoff, secretary of Homeland Security, trumped all legal challengers by citing the National ID Act, giving him the authority to waive any regulation that impeded construction of the fence in the name of national security.

A local federal district court judge then dismissed all cases that impeded the construction of the fence on the grounds that the intent of Congress was clear in terms of completing its construction.

Construction will move along as the DHS attempts to meet its stated goal of building 225 miles of pedestrian fencing and 362 kilometres of vehicle barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border -- plans likely to meet with additional legal challenges in the months and years to come as advocates on both sides of the fence continue to debate border policy over a landscape where cowboys and coyotes fear to go.



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