Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Desperation & criticism at the border

Only a week after Congress passed its only piece of immigration legislation, desperation is surging at the border. Criticism and scepticism about the border fence plan is also on the rise.

On Monday, five people were trapped in a mad-made tunnel trying to enter the United States near San Diego when one of the group became wedged in a an opening. San Diego Fire and Rescue Department personnel worked to free the wold-be immigrants. The San Diego Tribune spoke to Immigration and Customs Enforcement who said in recent months, several undocumented immigrants have been found using the sewer system to illegally enter the U.S. Could this be what we can expect to see more of in the future if the fence is indeed built?

Mexico's foreign secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez said Monday the country may make a formal complaint to the United Nations about the border fence. "What should be constructed is a bridge in relations between the two countries," Derbez said noting that the new law was for short-term political gain in the lead-up to midterm elections in the U.S. in November.

The Washington Post spoke to several experts who cite many potential unintended consequences of fence-building. Since in some regions along the border, the nearest main road can be 80 miles away, roads must be created to build the barrier. That could end up facilitating movement into the United States rather than blocking it. Professor Wayne Cornelius, an expert on immigration issues at the University of California at San Diego called the border fence law "the feel-good approach to immigration control. The only pain is experienced by the migrants themselves. It doesn't hurt U.S. consumers; it doesn't hurt U.S. businesses. It only hurts taxpayers if they pay attention to spending on border enforcement."

A bed and breakfast owner in Texas Jay Johnson-Castro is planning a 200-mile protest walk along the U.S.-Mexico border. "I'd like for the United States to get out of denial," he said. "Our country would collapse without Latin American labor. We complain about these folks, but they're here to work. The Mexican people are maintaining our country."

Professor Bill Hing of the University of California at Davis calls the border fence as "death trap" and asserts that "The problem is that the fence idea has been tried; it won’t work, and the result will be countless more unnecessary deaths." Hing says that a real solution would be "to address push-pull factors and the economic needs of both countries."