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Gov. Decries Building Wall at Border

Saying such a structure would be like `going back to the Stone ages,' Schwarzenegger calls for other ways to fight illegal immigration.

April 24, 2006|From the Associated Press

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Sunday said that building a 700-mile wall along the border with Mexico to deter illegal immigration would amount to "going back to the Stone ages" and urged the federal government to use high-tech gear and more patrols to secure the nation's southern boundary.

"We are landing men on the moon and in outer space using all these great things. I think that other technology really can secure the borders," the Republican governor said in an interview on ABC's "This Week."

"If I say now, 'Yes, let's build the wall,' what would prevent you from building a tunnel? How many tunnels have been built in these last 10 years? I mean, we've detected tunnels left and right that people can drive trucks through," he added.

The comments were Schwarzenegger's most detailed to date on the border wall proposal, which was included in legislation passed in the House of Representatives in December.

Schwarzenegger has said previously that fences might be appropriate in some areas, but he raised doubts about the effectiveness of a wall snaking along the border.

"I think that it will be ludicrous to limit yourself to just building a wall," Schwarzenegger said. "We're going back to the Stone ages here."

Schwarzenegger called relying on a wall as the only means to stop illegal immigration "crazy." But at other points he spoke more broadly in opposition to the proposal, on practical and symbolic terms.

He alluded to the Berlin Wall, suggesting that such a structure on the U.S. border would send the wrong message to Mexico, "our friends

"We can't do that, either," the governor said.

Schwarzenegger, a native of Austria, repeated his opposition to amnesty for illegal immigrants, but provided few specifics concerning requirements an illegal immigrant would have to meet to achieve legal status in the United States.

"I think we should give them a chance for redemption," he said.

Schwarzenegger also said it's unrealistic to consider uprooting or driving out the nation's estimated 11 million illegal immigrants.

"It would cost $500 billion. Who's going to pay for that?" he asked.

Schwarzenegger immigrated to the United States in 1968 and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1984.

He has retained his Austrian citizenship.

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