WASHINGTON, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- Maintaining the border fence between the United States and Mexico will cost $6.5 billion over 20 years, the Government Accountability Office says.
The uncompleted fence, which will eventually stretch 661 miles, has already cost $2.4 million, the GAO report released Thursday said. Construction of the last few miles has been delayed by legal battles with property owners.
The GAO said the fence had been breached 3,363 times by May 14. The holes and cuts cost an average of $1,300 each to repair.
While the agency says the combination of the fence and more Border Patrol agents cut illegal immigration, it cannot estimate the impact of the fence separately, the GAO said.
Wayne Cornelius, director emeritus of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California San Diego, told The Christian Science Monitor he does not believe the fence is effective.
"The existing border fortifications do not keep undocumented migrants out of the U.S.," he said. "Not even half are being apprehended on any given trip to the border, and of those who are apprehended, the success rate on the second or third try is upwards of 95 percent."