THE FENCE – Documentary RetroView (2010)

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the fence poster rory kennedyDo We Want or Need a Fence Along the US-Mexico Border?

In 2008, the US government decided to build a 700-mile long fence along the 2000-mile border with Mexico. Intended to block terrorists and illegal immigrants from entering the country, the fence was built by 19 construction companies, 350 engineers, thousands of construction workers using tens of thousands of tons of metal — at a cost of $3-billion. Filmmaker Rory Kennedy uses statistics, archival and new footage, interviews with experts and humorous commentary to investigate the project’s impact and question its value, effectiveness and ethics.

Since October, 2006, the US has spent over $3-billion of taxpayer dollars constructing a 700 mile long fence along the US-Mexican border. Filmmaker Rory Kennedy (Bobby’s daughter, for those who don’t know about her from other projects, including the remarkable Ghosts of Abu Ghraib) never camouflages her personal point of view in presenting a very clear and compelling case that all the money, energy, time and resources poured into the project might just as well have been flushed into oblivion.

The Fence Is A Farce

Using footage shot along the wall and interviews with border patrol agents, Minute Men vigilantes, ‘coyotes,’ illegal immigrants and others who have direct experience with ‘La Barda,’ Kennedy shows that the fence is a farce.

Not only are there inexplicable gaps and oddly isolated areas of no man’s land (including a popular Texas golf course that is, technically, no longer part of the US), the existing structure can easily be scaled by human beings. Statistics show that the fence has, since it was built, not decreased illegal immigration at all. As for drug traffickers, they continue drive drug-laden semis across the border. Furthermore, the film indicates that not one of the terrorists who’ve done evil deeds within the US have entered the country via Mexico.

An Absurd Situation That’s No Laughing Matter

The situation is laughable, and laugh you will, until you realize that the fence is a humanitarian, environmental, economic and ethical disaster.

Here’s why: The fence forces immigrants to venture further into the desert, where hazardous conditions have killed thousands of people. Not only has the fence caused severe flooding, but bewildered wildlife whose habitual migrant paths are now blocked by the metal barrier are becoming endangered species. Millions were spent to tear down and rebuild a section that was erroneously constructed five feet inside Mexico. And, simply put, the fence violates our “Give Us Your…” credo and contradicts our traditional anti-wall policy, exemplified in the film by footage of Ronald Regan demanding destruction of the Berlin Wall.

It was George W. Bush, proud as a peacock, who signed fence construction into reality. But Kennedy shows that funding was a bi-partisan decision. Rather than assign blame, she suggests that current immigration policy and strategy just isn’t working, and calls for further examination of the issues and development of a better plan.

Film Details:

The Fence (La Barda)
Director: Rory Kennedy
Release Date: September 16, 2010 (Broadcast premiere on HBO)
Running Time: 36 mins.
Parental Advisory: Content advisory for parents
Production Country: USA
Locations: USA, Mexico
Language: English and Spanish (with subtitles)
Production Company: Moxie Firecracker Films for HBO Documentaries

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