If good fences make good neighbors, what about bad fences?

If good fences make good neighbors, what about bad fences?

You could ask local officials and residents along the U.S.-Mexican border about that. They hate the monstrous wall that Bush and the Congress have decreed be erected to separate our countries. Not only is the wall a repugnant blemish on their landscape, severing the everyday crossborder flow of life, but the damned thing doesn’t work. The claim of the fence-builders is that it will keep workers from the south from crossing into the U.S. illegally. Local folks know, however, that that’s a bad joke.

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First of all, Washington’s wall covers only 700 of our 2,000-mile border, and long experience shows many migrants will simply flow through the gaps. Others are already making gaps of their own. On one completed stretch of the fence near Columbus, New Mexico, human ingenuity is winning out over bullheaded barricade builders. Border agents report that they started seeing cuts in the towering wall “almost immediately” after it was constructed. From simple hacksaws to plasma torches that can slice quickly through steel, immigrants have found their way through. Others have used ladders, trucks and other devices to scale the wall, while a least one group has bungee jumped into the country!

Also, the fence itself is creating convenient gaps, for the heavy structure is settling into the unstable ground. As it settles, the parts split – so much so that agents say determined migrants can wedge themselves through. Meanwhile, this multibillion-dollar monument to political stupidity does nothing to deter the 40-percent of immigrants who make a legal visit to the U.S. for business, vacation, or other purposes – then don’t go home.

Walling off Mexico might make some politicians feel good, but it’s not going to stop human ingenuity and determination.

“The Not-So-Great Wall of Mexico,” The New York Times, April 20, 2008

“Michael Chertoff’s Insult,” The New York Times, April 3, 2008

“Feds say border fence not tough enough,”, April 2008

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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