Good Fences Don't Make Good Neighbors

Some people from other countries want to come to the United States to kill us. Some want to freeload off us or sell us illegal things. Most just want to work here. So what should be done about all that?

It's the Border Patrol's responsibility to secure the U.S. border from illegal immigrants, but the border is long, and Border Patrol agents can't be everywhere.

Reason TV recently visited the Mexican border and spoke to Robert Crooks, who leads the Mountain Minutemen, a vigilante group that tries to keep illegals from entering America.

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"The Border Patrol agents are overworked, undermanned, unappreciated," Crooks said. "I'm that added eyes and ears that the Border Patrol don't have."

Crooks thinks more needs to be done. "These borders have to be secured. We're at war."

Violence is an ongoing and escalating problem at the U.S.-Mexico border, resulting in more than 1,000 deaths so far this year, according to federal officials. The State Department recently issued a travel warning urging caution for Americans traveling to Mexico and Wednesday President Obama said he would consider deploying National Guard troops to the area to deal with the violence.

The president said while he didn't want to militarize the border, "I think it's unacceptable if you've got drug gangs crossing our borders and killing U.S. citizens."

Congress recently decided that the best way to protect America was to build a wall. So now taxpayers are paying for a barrier that later this year will extend 670 miles across our southern border. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the cost at nearly $2 billion and an additional $260 million per year just to maintain the fence.

Duncan Hunter, a former presidential candidate and retired California congressman, pushed for the fence his entire career and will gladly take credit for its creation.

"The fence succeeded because I wrote the language that mandated it," he said. " I added money each year in the drug interdiction budget to build that fence."

But while the fence is hundreds of miles long, the border is thousands of miles long, so most of the border will remain unfenced. And even where there is a fence, illegal immigrants determined to get in can get around it.

San Diego Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher told "20/20," "They will try to come up over the fence. They will try to come underneath the fence. They'll try to swim around."

They often bring ladders, too. "20/20" went to San Diego to take a look and found dozens of abandoned ladders lying right next to the fence. We also found a series of holes that had been cut into the fence and subsequently repaired. Every few feet, one after the next, these repaired holes dot the brand new fence that Congress is building. It doesn't matter how high a fence is if you can just cut holes at the bottom.

There's also no evidence that the fence has reduced the number of illegals who cross, eventually. In San Diego, agents catch about 400 each day. They put most on a bus and return them to Mexico. But will that teach them a lesson? Persuade them not to try again? Of course not.

They keep trying because they want the better life that America offers. We talked to several illegal immigrants who had just been caught; all of them said they were going to keep on trying until they got in.

"Better work, better opportunities, more money," one captured illegal immigrant said. "They can catch me one, two, three, four, five times. Ten times. I'm going to cross."

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