Saturday, June 23, 2007

Why a Wall Won't Work

There has been a lot of talk about putting up a wall or a fence along the border with Mexico in order to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the country. I don't think this will work. Essentially, the problem is that people will simply go over, under, or around the wall. Let's look at some of the more obvious problems with this:

1) The wall would have to be thousands of miles long to cover the entire border. If it's not, then people would simply walk around it and go across in places where there is no wall.

2) The wall would also have to be very high so that it is not easy to climb over it. It would probably have to be 20 feet high or so, and it would have to have barbed wire on top as well.

3) The wall would also have to be dug deep down under the ground to discourage tunnels. In fact, a tunnel was already discovered under an existing border wall in the San Diego area.

3) Many people have suggested that it would need to be double walls with a no-man's zone between them containing a myriad of high-tech sensors such as infra-red, motion-detectors, sound-detectors, smell receptors, and cameras.

4) And of course, if there is an attempt to cross this wall in some way, then the monitoring equipment has to all be monitored by border patrol. Thousands and thousands more than are there today. Some have said as many as 20,000 more guards than are there today.

5) This wall would be bigger than the Great Wall of China, which, as everybody knows, is the only man-made object that is visible from space.

6) Then, with such a massive, expensive wall running for thousands of miles along the border, that still would not keep out unwanted foreigners. They would get around the wall easily by simply getting in a boat and sailing around the wall and coming up on the coast somewhere - as Cuban refugees have been doing on the Florida coast for decades. And they have further to go.

7) So then, it would become necessary to put up a similar wall all along the California coast, blocking off the entire Pacific Ocean. And of course, that means also another wall all along the gulf coast. And then, of course, we would need another one all along the eastern coast to completely block off the Atlantic Ocean.

8) Then, of course, we have the border with Canada on the north side. Well, we can't block off access from all three sides but leave that side open, so let's just seal that off too, shall we? There's another 4,000 miles of double walls, 20 feet high and 20 feet deep. Let's not forget the coastlines of all the great lakes. Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, The St Laurence Seaway, The Niagra River, Lake Michigan, Lake Superior - seal them all off completely.

Then we would be safe, right? Wrong. What about Alaska? And Hawaii? And Guam? And Puerto Rico? These are also American states and territories. If someone were to enter these places, they could travel to any other place in the US. So - let's wall them all off and seal them all up. Yes. Walls for everyone. Every coastline. No more looking at the water. We can't have open coastline like that! - why, we might get an undocumented worker sneaking in there!

This system of walls along thousands and thousands and thousands of miles of borders and coastlines would be the biggest and most expensive project in all of human history. It would make the Great Wall of China look like a weekend project on a shoestring budget. It would take more people than we have in this country to build it. It would cost more money than this country has or could possibly earn in a thousand years, to make it. It would require more cement than the whole planet has, to build it. And how long would it take for such a massive project? 100 years? 200 years? And it would require at least half the population to staff it - diligently ever watchful for those pesky workers who want to come here and get a $5/hr job.

Remember, this massively expensive GWA (The Great Wall of America) would not be there to repel foreign invaders (as the wall in China was built to do). It would be there to prevent Mexican workers from coming here to work for us. To pick our lettuce. To mow our grass. To cook our food. To build our houses. Yes. That's the horrible fate we would be spending all that money and time and effort to avoid.

But THEN we would finally be safe right? Wrong again, sunshine!

Even an impenetrable double wall for thousands of miles would still not prevent against corruption. There will always be border guards who can be bought off to let people through. It's been in the news lately in the San Diego area where border guards routinely let through thousands of people for money or sex, or other inducements.

Then, people will still hide in the trunks of cars and the backs of trucks, and shipping containers on boats and trains, etc. So they would get in that way.

Also, there are those that come in legally, say, on holiday, but then stay and work illegally. Or then come to work legally on a work visa, but then their visa expires and they stay and keep working and don't leave.

Alright then, out of the remaining 50% of the population, we would have to have an elaborate, massive and massively expensive bureaucracy of immigration officers to constantly be patrolling every business, every house, every school, every street looking for people without their paperwork. And of course, since that is the only way they could tell the people who are here illegally from those who are here legally, then ALL Americans would need to have and carry their identification at all times. And, to avoid these ID cards from being counterfeited they would have to have biometric chips included, for fingerprints, etc. and there would have to be a massive central database system to contain this and millions of readers out there that are portable that the officers can use while patrolling the streets.

So let's add this all up:
We would be completely enclosed on all sides by double walls 20 ft high topped with barbed wire, and 20 ft deep underground. There would be armed guards everywhere. Not just on the walls all around, but also patrolling the streets looking for anyone without papers. We would all have to have our paperwork with us at all times, and we would have to endure constant searches of our homes and businesses. There would be constant monitoring of our phones, our mail, our email, or IM, and text messaging. We would all be completely numbered, classified, and certified. The database would be always up to date with all knowledge about us so the government would know all our secrets, and all our movements. They would know who we are, where we are, what we are doing, and who we are doing it with, at all times. Since they would need to monitor us, and track everyone's movements, that means we would most likely be required to seek permission from the government to move, or travel, or to change jobs. If they decided not to permit you to move or change your job, or if you displeased them in some other way - say speaking out against the government or it's leaders, then you could have your licenses revoked and be without papers. Then as soon as a roving team of ICE officers discovered you - you would be captured and deported immediately.
And for work, most of us would either be working on building the wall, or we would be in security service patrolling it or patrolling the streets.

Yep that should about do it. Finally, we would be ....

Is this what we wanted? Is this the life so many people tried so hard to come here to have, and died to protect? I guess this is what we would need to do to protect our cherished so-called "American way of life".

Ironically, in the end, this would probably actually work to keep out foreigners. But, it's not the walls that would keep people away. It's the lifestyle. After all, we would have turned the entire country into a prison, impoverishing ourselves in the process, and we would have surrendered all our rights, privileges, and freedoms.
Who the heck would want to come and live here then? In fact, I think the walls would end up having to be used for the opposite purpose - to try to keep the inmates IN...

The obvious question becomes, "So what WOULD work, then?"

Well, for a lot less money than walling-off the entire US and turning this country into a fascist prison, perhaps we could simply invest in Mexico and make THAT place an attractive enough place to live. That would keep people there, and probably would drain a lot of the people currently here illegally out of the US and compel them to go back home. After all, no one really WANTS to be a second or third-class citizen in a foreign country. They are here because this is where the work and jobs are that can keep them from starving. If we help generate those jobs back there in Mexico, then Mexico becomes the best place for them to be. They get to have jobs, have a life, AND be a legal, proper taxpaying citizen with full rights and privileges. They speak the language. They retain their culture and their dignity.

So how do we do that? We could invest in tourist attractions in Mexico.
Lewis Black, the comedian, was talking about this for a place like Mississippi. He says, "No one wants to go there, so you go there and spend a bunch of money build a Bid F--kin' thing there. Then people will come from all over to see the Big F--kin' Thing. So you put in a restaurant and a gift shop. A gas station. A couple more restaurants. A hotel. You start selling tours of the Big F--kin' Thing. Postcards. T-shirts, hats, etc. Pretty soon, you have a whole industry built up on a Big F--kin' thing you built there in the middle of nowhere.

We could do that, but on a larger, more serious scale. We invest in infrastructure there. We put Disneyworlds there, theaters, Sea Worlds, Condos. We put in casinos. We run tours of big stars through there, so they get first rate shows. We put factories of all kinds, we put schools that people want to go to. We start businesses there. Do you suppose there might be some businesses that might like to invest in a place that has less restrictive laws and has a less saturated economy with less competition? Of course there is.

How do we do all this?
Well, whenever a country is inclined to expand and take over it's neighboring country, first they have a war, conquer the army of that neighbor, then they do this kind of investment. They put people there. Settlers. Businesses. Jobs. But we are Americans, so we put in attractions. Build another Las Vegas, .....whatever. Things that attract investment and things that build jobs, and that builds a society. We give tax cuts and other incentives for people and companies to invest in Mexico, and put their businesses there, maybe even re-locate there. We would do that if we suddenly owned Mexico after a war, right?

Well, maybe we can do that WITHOUT having a war. Maybe we can cut a deal with the Mexican government. They want to keep their people from leaving and going to the states. They want to have a wealthy country, and a nice lifestyle, too. Maybe we trade our investment for a piece of the country. We could have some percentage of ownership - like buying stock in a company, only this time, we buy stock in a country. We share in the gains and losses. But we invest - and we make it work. Everybody wins.

Surely, this is less money, and more positive than building a wall around our entire country and becoming prisoners.


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