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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Fence a ridiculous ‘solution’

    Pink Floyd’s album The Wall is most famous for the song “”Another Brick in the Wall”” with its repetitive chorus “”we don’t need no education.”” Our representatives at the national level have just decided to one-up the band, creating their own wall – and proving that they need neither education nor common sense.

    President Bush signed a bill last week allocating $1.2 billion to increase security through physical barriers at our border with Mexico, the most prominent aspect of which is a much-ballyhooed 700-mile fence along the border. Bush had been pushing for a dual-pronged plan, in which new guest worker program would be developed along with a the construction of a border fence. However, amid party bickering and sex scandals, all our representatives could muster was the most simplistic solution – so, a fence it is.

    The problem of illegal immigration in the United States requires a comprehensive solution responding to the presence of those already here, the economic disparities motivating decisions to immigrate illegally and the economic needs of the U.S. for workers. What we got instead was a hasty, ill-conceived Band-Aid that’s likely to do little more than damage our relations with Mexico, cause more crossers to use dangerous routes leading to an increase in the number of deaths each year, and cost U.S. taxpayers a great deal of money. Terrific.

    Perhaps the idea that there isn’t currently a fence along most of the border with Mexico is shocking to Americans from, say, New Jersey or Kansas, who haven’t seen the type of terrain with which border-crossers must grapple. But those of us from Arizona should know that an immense physical barrier already exists: the dangerous desert terrain. The men, women and children who cross the border outside of checkpoints are already taking their lives into their hands. The idea that these individuals won’t find a way over, under or around the wall is laughable.

    When enforcement at the border was increased in 1993 with Operation Hold the Line in Texas and in 1994 with California’s Operation Gatekeeper, no long-term decrease in illegal immigration was sustained. However, the operations did succeed in forcing border crossers to use the most dangerous places for transit and to rely more on the service of coyotes.

    The construction of the fence will amplify this trend, likely forcing immigrants to cross into the few areas that will not be fenced: namely, areas of geographic impediments, like mountain ranges and the land of the Tohono O’odham Nation abutting the Mexican border, where tribal leaders are uncomfortable with all a wall represents.

    The Tohono O’odham reservation is approximately the size of Connecticut, encompassing 75 miles of border. Already, the highest number of border crossers in Arizona are caught on the tribe’s land. And already, the highest number of deaths of border crossers occur in this reservation’s desert. When the tribal land becomes a major gap in the fence, crossings on this land will increase – and so will death rates of crossers, and the necessity of and profits for coyotes.

    What’s more, of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants currently residing in the U.S., approximately half have entered with legitimate short-term visas that they have overstayed or through other legal means, according to a recent study released by Pew Hispanic Center. A hundred thousand miles of fencing won’t fix this problem.

    This fence represents pathetic vote-pandering at its worst. Hopefully the men and women we elect in November can work toward actual solutions for this country’s illegal immigration problems. Until then, our senators and representatives should quit the congratulatory back-pats and face the embarrassment of this absurd attempt at an immigration quick fix.

    Opinions Board

    Opinions are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members.

    They are Nina Conrad, Lori Foley, Ryan Johnson, Ari Lerner, Nicole Santa Cruz and Matt Stone.

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