New border fence doesn't hurt, but is it helping?

Posted: Feb 7, 2008 01:59 PM PST

For months now, the people of Sasabe have seen a new fence line the south end of this small town.

And just a few miles north, the nearly 118,000 acres of the Buenos Aires wildlife refuge is still very much considered part of the border.

Sally Gall is the acting manager for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the refuge. "Oh yeah, there's been a tremendous problem with illegal immigration and the refuge."

The fence is newer, more effective; Gall says it helps, as she reflects on the past. "The worst times, we've had an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 immigrants per day coming through this refuge."

A dent in the problem but it's not nearly enough. "It seems like foot traffic is down in the area in general," Gall said, "but it seems to be directing immigrants around the fence into other areas."

One example is Arivaca, a town 12 miles north of the border.

Roger Beal has called Arivaca home for 29 years. He owns the Arivaca Mercantile. "In the previous two weeks I've had a man and his wife walk into the store here and ask for help from Border Patrol, to be picked up. Then this weekend I've had a man and his mother ask for help."

From his store on the main road in town he says he sees the issue differently. "So how effective is the fence? I don't know, it's certainly not stopping people."

News 4 contacted the Border Patrol. They said since construction on the new fence began, they have seen a significant decrease in smugglers driving their cargo over the border.