Building Border Walls Around Border Walls

Written by on November 20, 2008 in Border, Department of Homeland Security, Enforcement with 6 Comments


Crosses along the border wall memorialize those who didn’t make it. Photo by keiforce.

It’s not enough that DHS is building hundreds of miles of walls along the U.S.-Mexico border, creating physical and emotional barriers between us and our neighbor, ally, and trading partner. But now there is a plan to build a wall around a portion of the wall.

Friendship Park in San Diego is known as a place where families and friends on both sides of the border can meet each other, have a conversation, and see loved ones through the fence. People on the Mexican and U.S. sides have been known to kiss, dance, pray, protest, and eat “with” each other at the fence.

But now DHS is planning a triple fence to go through the park, severely limiting fence visits and cutting off a monument that was raised nearly 160 years ago to commemorate the area where Mexican and American surveyors began to demarcate the new border after the Mexican-American war.

DHS claims the reinforced barriers are necessary because criminal elements have taken advantage of the park.  Drugs, contraband, and even infants have been passed through the chain link fence.

Local advocates maintain that DHS’s claims are overblown, and that the new wall will put an end to the peaceful activities that take place in the park.

The Friendship Park wall is part of a larger project to build additional barriers along a 14 mile stretch from the ocean to the Otay Mesa port of entry.  Environmentalists have criticized the project because of the destruction of the environment in the area.  There is evidence that the additional walls have already caused border crossers to use more risky and dangerous routes, increasing injuries and deaths.

While DHS continues to ramp up its deportation-only tactics in the interior of the country, separating families in the process, it is unfortunate that DHS is now planning to destroy one of the few remaining places where bi-national families can reconnect.

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  • M. Nicole Morrison

    In his 1905-1906 5-volume book “The Life of Reason,” George Santayana wrote: “Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.” He was clearly prescient! The powers-that-be in Congress and DHS have obviously failed to learn that WALLS DO NOT WORK. The Berlin Wall stood for 28 years, and even though it was heavily guarded by East German soldiers who were authorized to shoot to kill defectors, had countless booby traps built into its infrastructure, and had broad fields of land mines in certain areas, roughly 5000 people STILL managed to escape to West Berlin! I should know – I lived in West Berlin off and on from 1984-1986 and actually saw people escape by swimming the Swansee river. Desperate people will gladly risk everything they have, including their own lives, for a slim chance at something better or different. Since DHS is unlikely to booby trap and land mine this wall and it is far too long to have nonstop patrols, it is unlikely to serve its intended purpose at all.

    The billions of tax dollars going to build this ridiculous boondoggle would be better spent on making legislative and policy changes U.S. employers and families need to obtain and maintain legal immigration status in the U.S. and enforcing the existing laws more efficiently. Just this week, the Houston Chronicle ran a three-day series about how ICE routinely fails to place detainers on or arrest undocumented immigrants in jail or prison – even when the immigrants ADMIT to being in the U.S. unlawfully! If ICE cannot be bothered to deport individuals who have already shown an inability to conform their conduct to U.S. law AND are already INSIDE THE U.S., it’s hard to see how the border wall can improve national security! Instead, as this post points out, the border communities that have long cooperated and celebrated across the boundary line will suffer needlessly.

    It’s funny though…DHS has said very little about building a wall along our northern border. I could make some tacky comments about why I doubt a northern border wall will ever be built (since I am Canadian and American), but I’ll just leave those thoughts to everyone’s imagination.

    Great blog. Keep up the good work.

    -M. Nicole Morrison

  • Lloyd Smith

    When I saw an announcement of your blog in my local paper I thought, “finally a voice of analysis and reason.” However, after reading your blog, looking at the photos, etc. I find it to be more skewed to the left than most of the commentary in my local paper’s blog leans to the right. Virtually every thinking person I know thinks that the border fence is a criminal waste of money, but also thinks that unrestrained illegal immigration, particularly from Mexico and points south, poses major short and long term threats to our economy and to our culture. We have laws prohibiting the employment of illegal aliens. We need to scrupulously enforce those laws. Your blog, and other “pro-immigrant” publications tends to talk about the troubles or issues of Latinos, Hispanics, etc. without making the actual and legal distinction between those who are here legally and those who are not. The term for “comprehensive immigration reform” as used in your blog and others like it is merely a euphemism for amnesty and the “here we go again” uncontrolled flow of more illegal immigrants into this country, the result of which will be a continued tax on our ability to progress, and to assist the rest of the world to do so as well.

  • marsguero

    I am happy to see this blog and have to disagree with Lloyd that it is too far to the left. The left/right dichotomy that we apply to broadly categorize policy alternatives is clearly applicable to many issues. However, the historical differences between our two political parties and the doctrinal assumptions that shape them have very little application to the issue of immigration. Both parties have at times embraced immigrants and liberal immigration policies, and have at other times shunned them and wanted to shut out newcomers. When they have chosen the former posture, our nation has laid the ground work for periods of greater shared prosperity for future generations. When our policies have tended towards restricting access for immigrants (note we have never actually sealed off or controlled our borders) only a minority of nativist interest groups and xenophobes consider it progress. When these policies bear rotten fruit, and ultimately become an embarrassment, all of us suffer collectively until they are corrected.
    The sad truth is that for generations the immigration debate has been little more than a rhetorical arena where the most depraved and laziest thinkers can freely spout off without any risk of being dismissed for their stupid ideas. At the turn of the twentieth century vile sentiments were regularly directed at the Chinese and Japanese, before them it was the Irish, and at the founding of our nation we were certain that Germans would bring us to ruin. All of the people who so ardently argued for the exclusion of these groups did so without any empirically verifiable reason. They were supposedly dirty, uneducated, immoral, brought diseases, papists, anarchists, communists, godless, drug addicted, and on, and on, and on. Yet we needed them and desperately wanted them to dig our canals, to build our railroads, to fight our wars, to settle our frontier, to supply our factories with cheap labor, to pick our crops, and on, and on, and on. It’s not hard to see that the current immigration debate fits perfectly within this historical rut.
    It is easy to appeal to the idea that those who oppose more immigration are only concerned about the rule of law. It is nonetheless a lie. The reason so many people are here illegally is because our laws are absurd. It was also illegal for Chinese and Japanese to come to this country for several decades spanning the entire first half of the 20th Century. They were subjected to humiliating treatment, but they came anyway. Thank God that they did. Without their contribution our nation would not be what it is today, and had we allowed them free and equal access as we offered to the waves of European immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, would we be any less today?
    The law has limits to what it can accomplish, and we must admit that the forces that compel human migration are beyond the control of governments acting unilaterally; especially governments with tens of thousands of miles of borders and hundreds of millions of our closest neighbors living in dire poverty. The longer we cling to the myth that the question is legal vs. illegal rather than reality vs. rhetoric, the worse off we will be. We need immigrants. They will continue to come. The question is how we move forward together. What will we do to maximize the productivity gains, human capital investment, ingenuity and many other tangible benefits they bring while at the same time we adhere to the noble American ideals that bring them to our shores in the first place?

  • chicagonut

    Walls do work. Why do you think that people put up walls and fences around their personal properties? Why do you think that the White House has a fence around it?

    Of course walls will never be 100% effective but they are a huge deterrant to unwanted and unlawful entry and in the case of our borders a physical barrier is a tremendous help to the Border Patrol.

    Those who cry about building a wall/fence on our southern border have a pretty transparant agenda. We all know what that is!

  • http://www.cmbeb5visa.com eb5 visa program

    My proud leftist argument is as follows. I have good friends in California who have access to their brothers and sisters through this wall and this wall alone.True, the laws on immigration separate families based on which ones are granted green card visas and which ones are not. It is unlawful to divide families with walls, but it is necessary to build these walls to ensure that more illegals do not cross over. Regarding the tragic case of separated families, it is a serious problem that has yet to be addressed.

  • Alex

    In my opinion a wall like this is the absolute worst thing we can have. We need to encourage people to go about entering this country legally. Fix the broken green card visas processes. Make it an attainable goal. The main reason people resort entering illegally is because the process is so utterly broken!

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