Tuesday, January 30, 2007
By Steven L. Taylor

Unfilled tunnels a weak link at border – Los Angeles Times:

Seven of the largest tunnels discovered under the U.S.-Mexico border in recent years have yet to be filled in, authorities said, raising concerns because smugglers have tried to reuse such passages before.

Among the unfilled tunnels, created to ferry people and drugs, is the longest one yet found — extending nearly half a mile from San Diego to Tijuana. Nearby, another sophisticated passageway once known as the Taj Mahal of tunnels has been sitting unfilled for 13 years, authorities say.

Though concrete plugs usually close off the tunnels where they cross under the border and at main entrance and exit points, the areas in between remain largely intact. Filling the seven tunnels would cost about $2.7 million, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials. Accessing tunnels that run under private property is also a problem, as is a lack of coordination with Mexican authorities.


In recent years nearly 50 tunnels have been discovered running under the border from San Diego to Arizona. Most are small, crudely constructed passages — called gopher holes — that are easily destroyed.

The frequently irrational nature of border policy is well illustrated here:  we can work towards building a fence, but we can’t find the cash to fill in tunnels.

And, of course, the tunnels themselves raise the question of whether the fence is a wise expenditure.  If we have extensive tunneling now in a non-fence world, imagine how many there will be in the future if the fence is ever constructed.

Some of the tunnels in question are listed below:

Among the unfilled passages:

•  The so-called Grande Tunnel connecting warehouses in San Diego and Tijuana. Nearly half a mile long, the tunnel was discovered in January 2006 and attracted global media attention as well as groups of local and national politicians, who were given tours of its cave-like depths. The tunnel prompted Feinstein to propose legislation outlawing the construction of tunnels under the border.

•  The 1,400-foot tunnel called the “Taj Mahal” because of its lighting system and reinforced concrete walls. The tunnel was discovered in 1993. Five years later, authorities suspected the passage had been reentered after 33 illegal immigrants were found covered in mud near the opening. A metal lid over the tunnel opening had been cut. Border Patrol agents say they never determined for sure if the passage was reused.

•  Two long tunnels leading from Mexicali, Mexico, to a quiet residential area in Calexico, Calif. One of them, discovered in 2005, was equipped with a ventilation system, phone line and video surveillance equipment.

Some pretty amazing stuff.

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4 Responses to “Border Tunnels Remain Unfilled”

  1. Jan Says:

    If it would cost $2.7 million to fill the tunnels, one has to wonder how much it cost to build the durn things in the first place.

  2. legaleagle Says:

    The continued existence of these tunnels obviously liberal’s fault. No, they didn’t build them; nor, of course, are they responsible for the fact that no one in the corrupt, incompetent and fanatical Bush administration has done anything about it. But it’s still clearly liberals’ fault because they’re rooting for the tunnels to be there!

  3. FifthColumnists in US Says:

    There’s no monolithic “we” involved in border policy (“we can work towards building a fence, but we can’t find the cash to fill in tunnels”). Rather, there are competing interests. And, the possibility that some of our politicians have been paid off can’t be completely ignored.

    And, the idea that you shouldn’t build a fence because people might spend millions building tunnels is as absurd as the claim that since you can’t stop all crimes you should disband the police.

  4. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    Well “we” in the sense of “Congress” (as some monies have been appropriated for that process.

    And your latter point is overly simplistic. My point is this: if we are going to invest billions on a border fence, we need to consider if we are getting our money’s worth. If the most pernicious of border violators will simply dig under the fence, then it calls into serious question the efficacy of the fence. It is basic cost/benefit analysis.

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