The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

69° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Immigration problem needs more than a wall

By 1901, Australia’s agricultural pest population had grown exponentially. The acres upon acres of pasture that were destroyed as a result had brought the country’s farming community to its knees. In response, the Australian government commissioned the construction of the State Vermin Fence, now called the State Barrier Fence of Western Australia. The 2,021 mile-long barrier prevented rabbits, dingoes, emus and other critters from entering Australia’s western pastoral areas. Today, a similar fence is being built along the U.S.-Mexican border, but not for the purpose of protecting farmland from crop-destroying pests. Rather, this fence will serve to prevent the passage of people.

Arizona officials have begun soliciting online donations for the construction of more immigrant-proof fencing along the state’s shared border with Mexico. Republican state Sen. Steve Smith, the sponsor of the fence legislation, and Senate President Russell Pearce will celebrate in Casa Grande after the donation website goes live. Those who donate will be awarded a certificate declaring that they “”helped build the Arizona wall.””

This latest immigration scheme offers a rudimentary solution to an infinitely complex problem. It perfectly demonstrates the utter incompetence of our politicians in Phoenix.

Contrary to what Smith would have you believe, illegal immigrants are not animals that can be corralled and fenced off. He and others who insist on more border fence are overlooking, or simply ignoring, the fact that illegal immigration is a uniquely human problem, one that cannot be solved with steel and barbed wire.

While it is true that the existing 646 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexican border have helped deter illegal crossings, the legislators who have commissioned the construction of these fences have failed to address the reasons why people risk their lives to cross the border illegally in the first place. Until the underlying causes of illegal immigration are identified, a heavily fortified fence isn’t going accomplish much of anything. Walls aren’t impenetrable.

Of course, immigration hardliners who believe we need to “”complete the dang fence”” will argue that federal inaction is the reason why the state has taken such drastic measures to secure the border. They will also assert that those who are opposed to border fences are advocating an open border policy, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Inaction on Capitol Hill, though unfortunate, shouldn’t be used as an excuse for ill-conceived immigration policy at the state level. Moreover, those who voice their opposition to border fences aren’t advocating an open border policy, but believe that our government should be channeling its efforts into crafting thoughtful and comprehensive immigration legislation, rather than soliciting online donations for a giant wall to keep the “”vermin”” out.

Illegal immigration is a complicated problem that Arizona will have to grapple with for years to come. A simple border fence won’t be the solution. Perhaps state politicians should be examining a bevy of prevention tactics, instead of putting up a wall every time they have a problem.

 

Nyles Kendall is a political science senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

More to Discover
Activate Search