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Monday, November 28, 2005
More on Fencing the Border
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:49 pm

One of the reasons I have a hard time with the idea of building a two-thousand mile fence from Brownsville to the Pacific is wholly philosophical. The behavior that such a fence is intended to punish is the very embodiment of the American dream-in fact, of the dream of democracy and of capitalism: self-improvement through personal hard work and sacrifice. There is no denying that the the main motivation for illegal crossing of the US-Mexican border is for precisely that reason.

The fence in Israel is designed to keep murderers from blowing up cafés filled with innocent people; there can be no qualms about such a preventive measures. However, when we are discussing illegal immigrants who risk their lives to cross the open desert, we are talking about human beings seeking a better economic circumstance for themselves and their families. One has to respect that. One doesn’t have to have open borders, but one has to respect what is going on here. Yes, it is a crime to cross the border without permission; and yes, some of those who cross the border do so with specific illegality in mind beyond the crossing (i.e., drug running-although most drugs do not enter via the vast deserts between Mexico and the United States, but rather via legitimate border crossings-it is simply easier to do it that way). However, the vast majority of the persons who might be stopped by a fence are not coming to commit crimes, they are coming to work. Again: on some fundamental level, one has to respect that fact.

Further, the fact of the matter is that the US economy does benefit from immigrant labor, and specifically from illegal immigrant labor. Given that as a society we are hardly without benefit or blameless, it is further difficult for me to want to see electrified chain-link and barbed wire for miles and miles and miles on the US frontier.

Please don’t misunderstand: I am not calling for open borders (although I will confess, on the spectrum between wholly sealed borders and open ones, my position is on the more open side of the equation). Some things call for massive fences, and some things do not. Stopping the Mongol hordes is a worthy security goal for a wall; stopping Pablo from cleaning up the Las Cruces McDonalds isn’t.

Beyond all of that, which I think is actually quite important, I continue to maintain that I have sincere doubts about the efficacy of such a structure and believe that the billions that would be required to construct, maintain and patrol it could be better spent in a host of ways.

Given the nature of the action a fence seeks to deter, the fact that US economy benefits from illegal immigrants, and the cost/efficacy issues, I cannot support the idea of a fence across the US-Mexican border.

This is perhaps not the best elucidation of this line of thinking, but as I like to say, this place is for a rough draft of my thoughts. I also know that many will disagree with the premise proffered here. So it goes. For me, however, at some level people are people. We can’t ignore that fact and still be true to our own American democratic values that we hold so dear. If we forget that basic truth, then we cannot claim to be a shining city on a hill that others should look to and emulate.

Filed under: Immigration | |Send TrackBack

Harshly Mellow linked with [...] ption, and he has a long post up about the advisability--or rather, the lack thereof--of a border fence between the U.S. and Mexico. His points about the significance of such a fence, [...]
A Knight’s Blog » More On The Topic Of The Month linked with [...] em quite lengthy, is a pretty big deal. This morning I discovered Steven Taylor’s follow-up post on the border fence idea, and I thought I’d respond a bit to that, because I find the ide [...]


  1. I am not calling for open borders

    If you do not will the means you cannot will the end; got another suggestion?

    Comment by Dave Schuler — Monday, November 28, 2005 @ 10:42 pm

  2. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that 500 million Chinese would like to enter the USofA. If large ocean going vessels started to off load them daily, would that be ok also?

    Comment by AllenS — Tuesday, November 29, 2005 @ 6:03 am

  3. […] em quite lengthy, is a pretty big deal. This morning I discovered Steven Taylor’s follow-up post on the border fence idea, and I thought I’d respond a bit to that, because I find the ide […]

    Pingback by A Knight’s Blog » More On The Topic Of The Month — Tuesday, November 29, 2005 @ 8:07 am

  4. Dave,

    I would support some type of gust worker program, although whether the one the President has suggested is the proper one is another issue.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Tuesday, November 29, 2005 @ 8:53 am

  5. […] ption, and he has a long post up about the advisability-or rather, the lack thereof-of a border fence between the U.S. and Mexico. His points about the significance of such a fence, […]

    Pingback by Harshly Mellow — Tuesday, November 29, 2005 @ 11:20 am

  6. Let’s just grade a gravel road all along the border, and send military troops and national guard there for advanced training. When the mexicans show up on their side of the border in a jeep with a machine gun, we respond by showing an M-1 Abrams tank, and so forth. Patrol segments and times could be assigned randomly by a very smart computer program. Troops would be trained to track, catch, identify,record data, detain,jail, deport, or any thing else we need to do to stop illegal immigration. Gaps in the randomly assigned segments of the border would be randomly assigned to the Texas minuetmen to observe. Reports of their observations would be immediately sent to military commanders. Significant reports would be immediately responded to with the use of military helicopters and other high tech equipment. Please notice that I have not mentioned the border patrol. Perhaps we could let them in on the action when their performance merits it.

    Comment by Emmet L. Grumbles — Thursday, December 22, 2005 @ 7:22 pm

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