Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Government: The Fence

Prof. Bainbridge, a conservative law professor I usually disagree with but often read because of his intellectual rigor, has an excellent post on the fence that some conservatives are proposing we build between the United States and Mexico...
Building a 700 mile fence will just funnel migrants into more dangerous regions, with serious humantirian consequences. Building a 2000 mile fence will simply encourage building of tunnels and smuggling through ports (probably using shipping containers). Building a fence thus may be a small component of a comprehensive immigration reform package, but it is mainly a vastly expensive sop to the masses.
On this matter, the Prof. is correct. (Though I think building any fence would be a massively useless boondoggle).

The Great Wall of China took vast resources and decades of time to build. So many people died in its construction that it took on the nickname “the longest cemetery on Earth.” The net effect of the Wall was that Mongols and other nomadic tribes had to bribe Chinese guards before they walked through the gates, or simply march to a portion of the Wall that was unmanned and then gave someone climb over and open a gate. It has accomplished virtually nothing in history, other then being an amazing tourist attraction and acting as border demarcations (which are now irrelevant). Chinese military strategy followed the familiar pattern of fortifying and defending the cities themselves. For the purpose it was built, the Wall is and was useless.

Let’s not make the same mistake. America shouldn’t build the second longest cemetery on Earth. Instead of spending billions of dollars a year to build and man a fence that immigrants will cut down, sail around, fly over, tunnel under, or simply ignore by hiding in legal cross border traffic, let’s figure out a comprehensive solution of economic reform for Mexico and stricter law enforcement in America that will work. I’m not endorsing or refuting what the President has proposed. But a fence is clearly wrong. We need solutions, not monolithic symbols of division.


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