The Conservative Divide Over the Border Fence

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A US Border Patrol vehicle drives along the fence separating the US from Mexico, near the town of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, on July 31, 2010.
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The extension of border fences has been a hot topic at recent GOP presidential debates. Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann has signed a pledge urging the completion of a fence by by 2013. Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain also supports a full-border fence, but he backed away from his comments over the weekend that the fence should be "20 feet high, with barbed wire, electrified." Of the nine candidates, only two say they think the fence is a bad idea — Congressman Ron Paul and Texas Governor Rick Perry. But what would it really mean to build a wall from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico? And do the perspectives the GOP candidates reflect most Republican's views on the fence?

Donna Wiesner Keene has worked in the Reagan administration and in both Bush administrations. She is now the Washington liason for and has recently written an article called "The Conservative Case Against a Border Fence." Chief Bill Carter is a retired30-year veteran of the U.S. Border Patrol, and the third generation to work for the agency.