top of page

Opportunity Lost: The Secure Fence Act of 2006

Joe From Texas asks: Why did the Secure Fence Act of 2006 not live up to its promise of border security?

  • On October 26, 2006, President George W. Bush signed the Secure Fence Act (SFA), a bipartisan bill that was supposed to help secure our southern border. There have been some claims on the internet that the bill provided $50 billion to secure the border. Although the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the cost of the bill could go as high as $54 billion in spending over a period of many years, Joe From Texas was not able to find any information pointing to any related spending coming close to that amount. However, he did locate a GAO report that stated approximately $2.3 billion was spent on barriers at the southern border between 2007 and 2015.

  • So, what was in the bill from a border security perspective? Joe From Texas has included on this page a fact sheet from President Bush so each reader can see what his administration claimed at the time. You will note that among those items was “the construction of hundreds of miles of additional fencing along our Southern border.” According to Investor’s Business Daily, the bill called for “700 additional miles of double chain-link and barbed-wire fences with lights and camera poles.” Although between 600 and 700 miles of “barriers” were eventually completed, the fence as envisioned by Congressman Peter King, lead author of the bill in the House, was not constructed.

  • In 2007, in response to complaints from the Department of Homeland Security that the terrain made it difficult to build the fence as called for, then Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison proposed an amendment to the bill. This amendment, which passed the House and Senate, gave the DHS Secretary authority to make determinations on the best types of barriers to use. According to Senator Ted Cruz, the real problem with this amendment arose when President Obama assumed office in January of 2009. In an interview several years ago, Cruz stated, “there should be 700 miles of double-layer fencing built along our southern border.” He went on to say that the Obama administration had only built about 30 miles of the fence as initially envisioned.

  • What Cruz insinuates, but does not spell out, is that Hutchison’s amendment let the Obama administration off the hook for building the fence as outlined in the Secure Fence Act of 2006. There is no indication that Senator Hutchison’s intent was anything other than good; however, the result was very bad. Although the government did end up building about 654 miles of “barriers,” these were a “combination of both pedestrian fence (meant to keep people from climbing over) and shorter vehicle barriers that allow pedestrians through, but block cars and trucks from entering the country where there are no roads,” according to news station ABC 10 in Sacramento, California. A September 20, 2017 article in the Arizona Republic noted that of the total miles of barriers at the time, only 354 miles included any sort of pedestrian barrier.

  • Unfortunately, as is so often the case, congress and the administration congratulated themselves soon after initial passage of the bill in 2006 without knowing that the law was doomed to have minimal impact. As we sit in 2022 and look at the current problems with our border, including human trafficking and deaths by drugs brought into the U.S. by cartels, it makes the Fence Act of 2006 look as if a great opportunity was squandered. There can be little doubt that had the fence as envisioned by Congressman King and others been constructed, we certainly would have been better off than we are today; however, due to the Hutchison amendment, the Obama Administration was allowed to put “barriers” in place that appear to be having little impact in securing our porous southern border.

  • However, in fairness to Obama, it is the current occupant of the White House, along with his willing accomplices Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, who bear more responsibility for our current failures at the border than any prior administration or congress.

  • Joe From Texas has often wondered why the Secure Fence Act of 2006 was seldom mentioned after Bush left office. As he researched and thought more about this, he came to the conclusion that one party made a political calculation and the other party has been too complacent. He believes the Democrats concluded many years ago that the vast majority of immigrants who come across our southern border would be a reliable vote for Democrats, if they ever had the opportunity to vote. Their strategy over time seems to be to let as many illegal immigrants as possible into this country and then work to get them citizenship and voting rights. Biden appears to be sticking with this plan. Apparently his handlers have not made him aware of the fact that the political dynamics are changing. Since Biden assumed office, Hispanic areas (particularly along the southern border in Texas), that have been reliable Democrat votes for decades have started to vote for Republicans. This only serves to prove that these citizens want the same things that every other American family wants - safety and security for their families and a fair set of rules within which we should all operate. Although not guilty of encouraging illegal immigration as Democrats have done, Republicans were largely complacent on the issue between the passage of The Fence Act and Donald Trump’s election as president. Even after Trump won, many insider D.C. Republicans were less than enthusiastic about his plans to secure the border. Although they were careful so as not to appear as if they were fighting against a border wall, many of them certainly did very little to actively join the cause in the early days of Trump’s presidency. That slowly began to change over time. Now, with the insane border policies of Biden and the Democrats, Republicans are united in their calls to secure our border. The border is one of many clear-cut issues that separate the Republicans from the Democrats as we approach the midterm election. Joe From Texas believes the choice on the ballot can accurately be characterized as returning to sanity versus continued insanity. It is up to each of us to bring sanity back to our country.

Fact Sheet: The Secure Fence Act of 2006

"This bill will help protect the American people. This bill will make our borders more secure. It is an important step toward immigration reform."

- President George W. Bush, 10/26/06

Today, President Bush Signed The Secure Fence Act - An Important Step Forward In Our Nation's Efforts To Control Our Borders And Reform Our Immigration System. Earlier this year, the President laid out a strategy for comprehensive immigration reform. The Secure Fence Act is one part of this reform, and the President will work with Congress to finish the job and pass the remaining elements of this strategy.

The Secure Fence Act Builds On Progress Securing The Border

By Making Wise Use Of Physical Barriers And Deploying 21st Century Technology, We Can Help Our Border Patrol Agents Do Their Job And Make Our Border More Secure. The Secure Fence Act:

  • Authorizes the construction of hundreds of miles of additional fencing along our Southern border;

  • Authorizes more vehicle barriers, checkpoints, and lighting to help prevent people from entering our country illegally;

  • Authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to increase the use of advanced technology like cameras, satellites, and unmanned aerial vehicles to reinforce our infrastructure at the border.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Begins With Securing The Border. Since President Bush took office, we have:

  • More than doubled funding for border security - from $4.6 billion in 2001 to $10.4 billion this year;

  • Increased the number of Border Patrol agents from about 9,000 to more than 12,000 - and by the end of 2008, we will have doubled the number of Border Patrol agents since the President took office;

  • Deployed thousands of National Guard members to assist the Border Patrol;

  • Upgraded technology at our borders and added infrastructure, including new fencing and vehicle barriers;

  • Apprehended and sent home more than 6 million people entering America illegally; and

  • We are adding thousands of new beds in our detention facilities, so we can continue working to end "catch and release" at our Southern border.

This Act Is One Part Of Our Effort To Reform Our Immigration System, And We Have More Work To Do

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Requires That We Enforce Our Immigration Laws Inside America. It is against the law to knowingly hire illegal workers, so the Administration has stepped up worksite enforcement. Many businesses want to obey the law, but cannot verify the legal status of their employees because of the widespread problem of document fraud, so the President has also called on Congress to create a better system for verifying documents and work eligibility.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Requires That We Reduce The Pressure On Our Border By Creating A Lawful Path For Foreign Workers To Enter Our Country On A Temporary Basis. A temporary worker program would meet the needs of our economy, reduce the appeal of human smugglers, make it less likely that people would risk their lives to cross the border, and ease the financial burden on State and local governments by replacing illegal workers with lawful taxpayers. Above all, a temporary worker program would add to our security by making certain we know who is in our country and why they are here.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Requires That We Face The Reality That Millions Of Illegal Immigrants Are Here Already. The President opposes amnesty but believes there is a rational middle ground between granting an automatic path to citizenship for every illegal immigrant and a program of mass deportation. Illegal immigrants who have roots in our country and want to stay should have to pay a meaningful penalty for breaking the law, pay their taxes, learn English, work in a job for a number of years, and wait in line behind those who played by the rules and followed the law.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Requires That We Honor The Great American Tradition Of The Melting Pot. Americans are bound together by our shared ideals, an appreciation of our history, respect for the flag we fly, and an ability to speak and write the English language. When immigrants assimilate and advance in our society, they realize their dreams, renew our spirit, and add to the unity of America.

# # #

Work Cited

National Archives and Records Administration. (2026, October 26). Fact Sheet: The Secure Fence Act of 2006. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved October 26, 2022, from

National Archives and Records Administration. (2006, October 26). President Bush Signs Secure Fence Act. Retrieved October 26, 2022, from

693 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page