Good Fences Make Good Borders

New designs aim to exclude, but not offend, Mexican neighbors
By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 16, 2007 1:45 PM CST
A Border Patrol vehicle drove past a portion of the border fence, Friday, Aug. 3, 2007, in El Paso, Texas. The fence had been welded with bars, right, to prevent people from going through it. (AP Photo/Victor...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Pity the designers of the new border fence with Mexico: They'd been asked to come up with a design that will keep out the most determined immigrants but doesn't read as unfriendly. The government has mandated the fence be "aesthetically pleasing" to folks in Mexico, who are, after all, allies. "They want to make it seem like you could shake hands through the fence," says one political science professor.

Shake hands, maybe, but bust through with a blowtorch, no. In a recent 9-week "fence lab," the LA Times reports, engineers tested designs by having border-patrol agents try to get through them with typical smuggler tools like saws and ladders. Unfortunately, they penetrated pretty quickly. "I think they were impressed by the inventiveness," says one pretend coyote.