Mapping the U.S. Mexico Border Fence

Journalists at the Center for Investigative Reporting undertook the herculean task of mapping the extent of the secretive and sometimes strange fence between the United States and Mexico.

Michael Corey writes of his experience attempting to obtain information about the exact extent of the series of fences that makes up the infamous U.S.-Mexico border fence. The project grew out of the Borderland storytelling project that the Center for Investigative Reporting undertook with NPR.

“Journalists at CIR have been trying for more than three years to obtain accurate, detailed mapping data showing the location of the border fence system. The fences – it's more accurate to say there are many – have cost taxpayers many millions of dollars and are key pieces of border security infrastructure. They're also a potent symbol that chafes at our Mexican neighbors.”

The task of finding the data proved more difficult than expected. “We filed several Freedom of Information Act requests with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and after several appeals, we received limited data showing where individual fence segments start and end. But we were told repeatedly that the actual lines showing the details of the fence segments were sensitive law enforcement information that could give away secrets to drug cartels, illegal border crossers or terrorists.”

Through no small amount of perseverance, and old-fashioned, gum shoe Google Earth exploration, Corey states what his team has achieved: “The result: We now have what is – as far as we know – the most complete and detailed map of the border fence system that is publicly available.” The map is in OpenStreetMap, and the article also has Google Earth images showing how difficult the fence is to track across the terrain of the American Southwest.

Full Story: The surprising tools CIR used to map the US-Mexico border fence

Comments

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $199
Planetizen Courses image ad

Planetizen Courses

Advance your career with subscription-based online courses tailored to the urban planning professional.
Starting at $14.95 a month
Woman wearing city map tote bag

City Shoulder Totes - New Cities Added!

Durable CityFabric© shoulder tote bags available from 9 different cities.
$22.00

Wear your city with style!

100% silk scarves feature detailed city maps. Choose from six cities with red or blue trim.
$55.00