Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said that an amendment to a US immigration bill would cause the US to have the “most militarized border” since the Berlin Wall came down in 1989.
A bipartisan amendment to the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill would double the number of Border Patrol agents from 20,000 to 40,000, fund construction of 700 miles of fencing along the US-Mexico border, and provide billions of dollars for advanced surveillance equipment.
Many Republican lawmakers have refused to support the immigration reform bill as it currently stands, arguing that it does little to enforce the border. The Senate advanced an amendment to the legislation with a 67-27 vote last Monday, winning significant support from Republican lawmakers and instilling hope that the immigration reform bill could make it through the upper chamber. But although the amendment would strengthen the border, it would also rival the security at the former Berlin Wall, McCain said in a CNN interview.
"The legislation concerning beefed up border security removes any validity to the argument that border security is not sufficient," McCain said of the amendment, which was authored by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.).
"I mean this is not only sufficient, it is well over-sufficient,” he added. “We'll be the most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall. That's why I think this amendment was very important.”
The most secure version of the Berlin Wall, which formerly served to prevent emigration from East Germany, was reinforced with a smooth pipe to make it difficult to scale. It was surrounded by mesh fencing, trenches, barbed wire, attack dogs, and beds of nails under balconies that were hanging over the border. Border security guards were stationed at 116 watchtowers and 20 bunkers, and received “shoot to kill” orders if anyone tried to illegally cross it.
According to the Centre for Contemporary History, 136 deaths have been attributed to border crossing attempts at the Berlin Wall. And although the US-Mexico border would use different security methods than East Germany, it would be the most secure since the fall of the Berlin Wall – a comparison that McCain believes would garner support for the amendment.
"This is a border security measure which I think should suffice to satisfy any critic and it is a tough way forward and it is a way forward, a tough way forward so that we can resolve this and bring 11 million people out of the shadows," McCain said.
If the amendment is passed and the reform bill implemented, the US border fence would be seven times as long as the Berlin Wall and have four times as many agents to guard it.