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Fences are stupid

Every time the debate about illegal immigration reaches a fever pitch, the call for more border fencing gets louder and more hysterical. The current debate over an immigration bill in the Senate is no exception. The compromise bill under consideration calls for at least 370 miles of new fencing. The President wants 700.


Trying to tackle a complex issue like illegal immigration with more fences didn't make sense last year or the year before, and it doesn't make sense now. And it's not just here that it doesn't make sense. It didn't work in Cold War Berlin, doesn't work in Israel, and wouldn't have worked in Iraqi neighborhoods to separate Shias from Sunnis. Erecting fences to address intractable political issues doesn't solve whatever the underlying problem is, and creates more problems in the long run.

But the concept of a fence is one everybody can understand, and let's politicians stand tall on illegal immigration - they're doing something about the problem, right?

In this case, more miles of fence will not deter illegal immigrants. More likely, it will just mean more dead illegal immigrants. According to environmental groups in Texas - like those treehuggers at the Nature Conservancy - more fences could also hurt efforts to preserve the complex ecosystems along the border. This work has been ongoing for decades - environmental groups buy swaths of land, and turn it into wildlife refuges. New fencing could cut right through that, and cut animals off from the Rio Grande - an important fresh water source - and from potential mates during mating season.

Once you put up a fence like that, and you don't see the results promised in Washington, there will be a call for more fences. Fences cost money to put up, and they cost a lot to be taken down. Why not just focus on more border agents, better law enforcement against businesses that hire illegal immigrants, and - here's a crazy idea - working with the Mexican government to make staying in Mexico make sense?


I agree with your last paragraph:

If the U.S. gov would just enforce the laws we have already, we might not need this new bill.

One thing is for sure, liberal or conservative, most American's do not want this bill to be signed in its current form. So many facets of it make zero sense and are ultimately not enforceable. We'll just be giving the government more money to waste.

Hey Jeremy,

Ahhh, but you're not so sure you agree with my other statements? ;-) This is one of those issues that is so complex, and has so much history behind it, there is no easy answer. In fact, there may be no real answer at the end of the day. Whatever we do, people who see the U.S. as some sort of land of opportunity will continue to come here.

Give me your hungry, your tired, your poor, I'll piss on 'em.
That's what the Statue of Bigotry says.
Your poor huddled masses, let's club 'em to death
and get it over with and just dump 'em on the boulevard.

- Dirty Boulevard / Lou Reed

I think a moat full of hungry alligators would make more sense than a fence. Then again, cracking down on those who employ illegal aliens might make more sense than a moat. People are coming to America for a reason; they know that they will find work without having to go through a formal immigration process.

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