Vive Le Canada

Border fence just doesn't make sense
Date: Monday, November 21 2005

Border fence just doesn't make sense
By Wayne Cornelius
For the Los Angeles Times
Published: Sunday, November 20, 2005

While President Bush was in Latin America earlier this month, cajoling governments to support a free-trade zone, some members of his party back home were pushing for a fence from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico to keep Latin Americans out of the United States.

Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, California Rep. Duncan Hunter and other Republicans have proposed building such a barrier. Hunter's version, centerpiece of the TRUE Enforcement and Border Security Act that he introduced earlier this month, would include two layers of reinforced fencing, stadium-type lighting, access roads, video surveillance systems and in-ground sensors. To monitor and maintain these new fortifications, Hunter would double the size of the Border Patrol.

Sealing the border is technologically feasible - that has never been the issue. The real question is whether the United States is willing to pay the high costs of doing so, in terms of scarce revenue and widespread disruptions to our economy and society. The cost of erecting nearly 2,000 miles of border fortifications and permanently deploying the staff to monitor and maintain the fence would run into many billions of dollars.

At least 400 to 500 migrants die each year of dehydration, drowning and other causes related to illegal entry. But that is only a tiny fraction of those who try to cross, so the odds of arriving safely in the United States are still quite good. To create a truly effective deterrent, the United States would have to make illegal entry life-threatening by authorizing the use of lethal force. A Berlin Wall without border guards with orders to shoot to kill would not have stopped East Germans. Neither would a high-tech fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

A barrier, however sturdy, also could be tunneled under. Dozens of such tunnels have been detected in recent years along segments of the border that are already fortified.

And like France's Maginot Line in 1940, a sea-to-sea fence could be outflanked. Even if successful in halting illegal entries along the land border, the fence would promote a brisk new trade by people-smugglers, running migrants in boats to the U.S. Pacific and Gulf coasts and transporting them by plane to Canada, with its 4,100-mile, largely open border.

Anyone who considers this scenario farfetched should consider what happened in southern Europe over the last four years. A crackdown by Spain on illegal migrants crossing the Strait of Gibraltar from Morocco immediately shifted the traffic to Spain's Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. When Spain extended its maritime crackdown to the Canaries, migrants began pouring over border fences in Spain's enclaves on the North African coast.


This article comes from Vive Le Canada

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