Saturday, January 05, 2008

Don't fence me in

Nearly all of this opinion piece in today's Gazette makes good sense.

After spending a year monitoring the East German border back in the 1970s, I became unalterably opposed to building walls around countries. The mayor of McAllen, Texas, takes a more carefully reasoned view.

I suspect he knows the real reason why sensors, radar and video surveillance are unacceptable alternatives. Even though they would be cheaper and work better, they just wouldn't have the same symbolic impact as a big, ugly fence blighting our border. I'm agin it.

It has never been clear to me how a fence would keep out terrorists. As the mayor points out, there are easier ways to get inside this country. And it still is unclear to me why if it is such a good idea to export jobs to foreign low-wage workers, it's a bad idea to import foreign low-wage workers. What's the difference?

My one quibble: I don't think a guest worker program would work. To me, it gives us the worst of all worlds: security problems and a permanent unassimilated underclass. You can't let people in if you aren't going to give them hope and a reason to act like Americans.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

The fence has never made sense to me. I guess it serves as a symbol, but the cost of fence material is so high that I don't think we can afford it--unless the "fiscally conservative" R's want to add to the red ink. Also, what do we do with the coastline--run a fence along all the beaches? The fence is just an expensive "feel good" symbol.

Anonymous said...

A Mexican border fence will work about as well as the Maginot Line did for the French. "A monument to man's stupidity," as Patton said. Take away the jobs and the problem will go away.

Jay Larry Lundeen said...

Apparently a totally open border to the world's hottest destination point for destitute people is a feasible option? Maybe it's just as simple as saying that if you're coming here you have to at least sign the guest book. And now name one stable country that doesn't have strict monitoring of entries and exits?

Ed Kemmick said...

The fence would serve the same purpose as having the TSA make grandmothers take their shoes off at the airport: It will make dumb people feel safer while wasting a lot of money.

David said...

Jay,
Nobody is talking here about a "totally open border." Nobody is saying that exits and entrances should not be monitored.

Jay Larry Lundeen said...

Once again, do we simply leave the borders wide open to anyone wishing to enter the US? While it's easy to assume a physical fence may not be an efficient deterrent, what's a viable alternative for a country to remain territorially sovereign? Or perhaps a better question to ask is whether the US should have any borders? In a perfect world shouldn't everyone have the right to travel anywhere without restriction? After all, what could possibly happen to this country's legal system, social services, culture, economy and environment if, for instance, 500 million people were to enjoy "extended stays" in the US during the next several years when they learned there was no border enforcement? You may want to keep in mind that currently 4.5 billion people live in countries poorer than Mexico.

Anonymous said...

A border fence won't work because:

A) It will be designed by the Department of Homeland In-Security, which can't design its way out of the proverbial paper bag, and

B) The job will be given out to the construction company who is the low bidder, which means said company will try to keep cost down by hiring the cheapest labor it can find: Illegal Aliens. (Which means the fence will probably be full of trap doors.)

Here in AZ, we now have a law that requires companies to double-check the Social Security numbers of new hires with a computer program called eVerify. If a company knowingly hires someone who is in the country illegally, it will lose its business license for 15 days. A second violation will result in a permanent revocation. While I am all for this, I have a feeling that it will be the little companies that will be affected by this, while the bigger companies who've been hiring illegals all along (the hotels and the construction companies) will get by with a wink and a nod -- as has been ever thus here since statehood. (I have always said that the national motto should be changed from "E Pluribus Unum" to the Latin Phrase for "Money Talks.") Meanwhile, the Mexicans coming over are still going to be taken advantage of, knowing that complaining about working conditions and pay will lead to an anonymous call to ICE. (If we need these folks that badly, then lets raise the quotas and get them in legally. But the business community would scream at that like they're screaming about the new law.)

And as for the virtual fence that is going up in SW Arizona? The thing is going way over budget -- and doesn't work.

Kirk Dooley, Mesa AZ