Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fischer
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Another brick in the wall

Wick's World

 

April 12, 2018



“The last time I crossed the Mexican-U.S. border illegally, Americans were celebrating the Bicentennial, while my wife and I were celebrating our winter employment at the Hilton Inn as 20-something snowbirds of South Texas. A “reverse crossing” would be more appropriate terminology, as the gang I hung out with would cross from the U.S. side on to Mexican soil. The only place in this border area we frequented more often than the after-hour clubs in Mexico was a remote bird sanctuary, complete with hanging moss, Green Jays, Inca Doves and noisy birds called Chachalacas.

"After several forays into the jungle-like sanctuary, deep in the thicket, we discovered a small trail that led down to a very narrow, shallow part of the Rio Grande River. As young, bold, reckless characters of that era, what were we to do other than swim the Rio just to say we did it? The swim was actually a walk; the water level was so shallow that spring that you could not have laid your body down in the murky water to swim across if you wanted to. The element of danger was nowhere to be seen, as we could have run back across the river to safe U.S. soil long before the Federales could have nabbed us.

"This leads to the observation that our Congress has again taken a costly, band aid approach to a very complex issue, that of illegal immigration. A proposed 700-mile high-tech fence along the Mexican border is penciled in at an initial $1.2 billion, with costs certain to rise when engineers invade inaccessible areas such as the bird sanctuary of my youthful days. The monetary costs are bad enough, but consider the environmental cost of running a fence through turf such as this for a project that is doomed to failure.

"A fence, no matter how high-tech, does not have the ability to stop people from coming over it. Consider this scenario. Unless the fence is armed the entire way with humans, which is not possible, it would be tantamount to the prison up on the hill allowing inmates free access to the fence with nobody standing guard. Realistically, just how long do you think it would take before humans figured out a way to overpower the purpose of the fence?

"Historically, some fences like the Great Wall of China had at least partial success in keeping out hoards of invaders. But in an economic situation as we have today, even the Great Wall would have little success in keeping out individuals seeking a better life. The Berlin Wall was another fence that achieved a modicum of success, although temporary. This was a fence built to keep people locked in, not to keep people out, although it also served that purpose.

"The United States is not standing alone in the world when it comes to the issue of fence-building. India has begun fencing off a 2500-mile border with neighboring Bangladesh to keep out 'illegal immigrants and insurgents.' Saudi Arabia will soon protect its 560-mile border with Iraq by building what it calls a security fence. Israel also has plans to build a wall on the West Bank by 2010 and move all settlers to the Israeli side.

"Success at immigration reform lies not with fencing people out but with improving Mexico’s economic situation and a U.S. crackdown on employers of illegal immigrants. A meat-packing plant that as long as 30 years ago used to hire many of us college students at the high rate of $9.00 per hour, currently sends flyers to Michoacán and other Mexican states promising high-paying jobs at $8.00 per hour, this in 2006. This is a subject for a whole other discussion, one very related to fence-building.”

I wrote this story in 2006, way back when George W. Bush was our president. Change then was modest and little changed during the Obama years. We note that circumstances are altered very slowly by the passing of the years. The only change we see today is that “border walls” are back on the front page … only this time the voice is a lot louder.

 
 

Reader Comments
(1)

Wiggy writes:

There was a time that we had no fences in the town of Chamberlain, now everyone has a fence in California. Fences only isolate.

 
 
 

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