Should pro-immigration forces favor a fence?

by on October 11, 2006 at 4:19 am in Law | Permalink

I am beginning to wonder:

Legislation passed by Congress mandating the fencing of 700 miles of
the U.S. border with Mexico has sparked opposition from an array of
land managers, businesspeople, law enforcement officials,
environmentalists and U.S. Border Patrol agents as a one-size-fits-all
policy response to the nettlesome task of securing the nation’s borders.

said the fence does not take into account the extraordinarily varied
geography of the 2,000-mile-long border, which cuts through Mexican and
U.S. cities separated by a sidewalk, vast scrubland and deserts,
rivers, irrigation canals and miles of mountainous terrain.  They also
say it seems to ignore advances in border security that don’t involve
construction of a 15-foot-high double fence and to play down what are
expected to be significant costs to maintain the new barrier.

And, they say, the estimated $2 billion price tag and the mandate that
it be completed by 2008 overlook 10 years of legal and logistical
difficulties the federal government has faced to finish a comparatively
tiny fence of 14 miles dividing San Diego and Tijuana.

"This is the feel-good approach to immigration control," said Wayne
Cornelius, an expert on immigration issues at the University of
California at San Diego.

Construction of a fence, of course, would defuse many other pressures.  Here is the full story.

1 Peter Schaeffer October 11, 2006 at 9:43 am

Is this a joke or what? 2000 years ago the Romans and Chinese built walls over rough terrain that included “scrubland and deserts, rivers, irrigation canals and miles of mountainous terrain†, but somehow modern day America can’t. Somehow Israel, faced with rather similar geography, hasn’t had too many problems, but the United States just isn’t capable. Never mind that where we have built fences they have been highly effective. Never mind that much of the border is totally flat and can be easily fenced. Never mind that the easy parts are (currently) the key routes for illegal immigration.

As for the “advances in border security that don’t involve construction of a 15-foot-high double fence†, they can be summarized “lets do things that we know won’t work, so that we can implement our real agenda of Open Borders by claiming that the border can’t be controlled†. The bottom line is that when Israel finally decided that stopping suicide bombers was more important than fantasies about “Greater Israel†, they built a fence (not a wall contrary to what most people think). The bottom line is that when the US decides that real border control is more important than cheap labor for the plutocracy, we will build a fence.

The debate about the details of building a fence is a thin veil for the real issues. The Open Borders/Cheal Labor lobby wants an endless stream of illegals to keep wages down and will use any argument to get its way. For them the problem isn’t that a fence won’t work, but that it will.

However, it is absolutely true that a fence won’t stop illegal immigration. 50-60% of the illegals entered the United States legally as tourists, students, etc. The reality is that we must have “comprehensive† immigration enforcement inside the United States, not just at the border. That includes using local police and harsh employer sanctions. The current reality is that the US is a 3 million square mile sanctuary for illegals with near zero enforcement. A quote from Wayne Cornelius “we probably as a nation make a a less of an effort to enforce immigration laws in the work place than any other major industrial country in the world† ( .

2 Peter Schaeffer October 11, 2006 at 10:02 am

This is from another Financial Times article based on the same (Putnam) research. A few more quotes:

“His research shows that the more diverse a community is, the less likely its inhabitants are to trust anyone – from their next-door neighbour to the mayor.”

It’s hard to believe, but the motto of Harvard is “Veritas”…

“Professor Putnam told the Financial Times he had delayed publishing his research until he could develop proposals to compensate for the negative effects of diversity”

Once again, Los Angeles as the low point of America, and a warning about our future…

Prof Putnam found trust was lowest in Los Angeles, “the most diverse human habitation in human history†,

Not that Putnam has anything useful to say about assimilation…

“What we shouldn’t do is to say that they [immigrants] should be more like us. We should construct a new us.†

See for the Financial Times article.

3 Chris October 11, 2006 at 10:25 am

RE: Putnam’s study – Another paper shows that once you control for corruption and some other factors the trust-homogeneity correlation goes away.

Tyler – I made a similar argument – maybe with a fence people will realize the benefits of immigrants and relax the quotas.

4 Peter Schaeffer October 11, 2006 at 12:26 pm

RE: “Another paper shows that once you control for corruption and some other factors the trust-homogeneity correlation goes away†.

This is funny, if you control for flooding, wind damage, property destruction and mass deaths, hurricanes are really OK. Sure they are.

The Sam Quinones, Los Angeles Times article (see,0,931508.story?coll=la-home-headlines) contains numerous statements about how Open Borders has turned LA into a hell on earth (illegals are fleeing too Kentucky).

If poor unsophisticated illegal immigrants can see the horrors of uncontrolled, low-skill immigration, how is that supposedly smart intellectuals can not? Mindless greed? Class interest? Political correctness? Ideological blinkers? I guess it took a long term for intellectuals to reject communism†¦ Some still haven’t

5 Barbar October 11, 2006 at 1:00 pm

I wonder where we can find some cheap labor to build this gigantic wall.

6 Dave Meleney October 11, 2006 at 2:35 pm


You who are so eager to pull up the draw bridge, now that you and your family have reached the promised land…seem a little harsh sometimes…but you say in your own defense:
1) These immigrants are breaking the law, and
2) These immigrants are ruining life in America….

And of course, those same charges were made against your family when they first arrived here. Even against those who came before we started restricting immigration very much. They were constantly accused of all sorts of immoralities and law breaking, quite often just because some of those already here were jealous &/or afraid of the hard working newcomers and their “low class” lifestyles. And quite often because laws were crafted specifically to make these newcomers illegal. Which is just what you want more of ! !

Just a wild guess based on your very, very long series of comments…. you may not always obey various laws and norms yourself. Any chance you consistently obey speed limits, get to work when you said you would, pay your taxes to the precise letter of the law? Do you actually know any accountant who would have you take less depreciation than typically accepted because… well… because you know just how much it’s value actually depreciated?

As to them ruining our lifestyle (and safety) most Americans live in houses that are twice as big and twice as nice (and several times as safe, if you define safety broadly) as 50 years ago and it’s not some remarkable coincidence that lots of creative, hard-working immigrants have poured in from every point of the compass during that period of amazing progress.

Possibly read a little of Julian Simon…possibly find yourself with a kinder view of your fellow man and his potential for good…. possibly find your relationships with friends and family growing much, much richer?

7 TGGP October 11, 2006 at 3:20 pm

Eisenhower dealt with illegal immigration effectively without passing any laws with “Operation Wetback”. The fence won’t go all the way there, but it will be a good start, and I think it will be more difficult for future leaders to sneak something with similar results to the 65 act while there is a large physical barrier to be dealt with.

I always laugh my head off when someone points out that my ancestors were immigrants and were likely resented by nativists. Well the first nativists were native americans, and being as inhospitable as possible to the Vikings was the best move they ever made. Letting Europeans move in was the worst thing that ever happened to them. So should the natives of today let ourselves get screwed over just because other people made such a boneheaded mistake in the past or should we ensure our own quality of life? Do I want to live in a United States with a system of property rights and restricted government inherited from the English tradition that other people like enough to seek, or a country with a dysfunctional political system and an economy that causes a huge portion of its citizens to flee (as is the case in latin america and to a much lesser extent has become so in states with high immigration)? Such a tough decision.

8 Dave Meleney October 11, 2006 at 3:58 pm


Yes, these people have fled countries with worse politics and worse economies…. and you were born here and probably educated in public schools here. And we are to assume you’ll help protect our freedoms and institutions better than those who worked so hard and risked so much to get here?

By your own language: “So should the natives of today let ourselves get screwed over just because other people made such a boneheaded mistake in the past or should we ensure our own quality of life?” you seem to see the world substantially as a place where somebody or other is destined to get “screwed over.” Hardly the worldview that made America great.

9 Scott Korfmann October 11, 2006 at 5:42 pm

Since congress has passed legislation for a 700 mile fence to keep out smugglers and illegal immigrants. One can only assume they are determined to sabotage our economy and waste money. Trying to keep problems out will never make them go away. As long as there is a demand for drugs and illegal workers, there will be a supply. The only thing this wall will do is increase the cost of drugs and illegal workers. With these price increases there will be negative social impacts. If the costs of drugs rise, people wont stop buying them, they might start stealing or doing other illegal activities to finance their addiction. And if there is diminish in the migrant labor pool, crops will go unpicked and our resources wasted.

Why congress cant learn from past mistakes is quite the riddle. If they could spend this “fence money” on reducing the demand for drugs and illegal workers, maybe then some problems might start to be alleviated. On the ironic note, one might wonder how many illegal workers will be used to build this wall?

10 Mark October 11, 2006 at 6:14 pm

For those who missed it, there is a fascinating series on a college student-turned-sex worker from South Korea in the SF Chronicle. The most interesting part details how she came to the U.S. illegally. She first went to Mexico and there Korean people-smugglers made a fake U.S. visa for her and she was driven to the legal border crossing between Tijuana and San Diego. There, the car she was in was pulled aside for intensive inspection by customs agents. Panicked, the driver looked around, saw that no customs officials were watching her car while it was idling in the inspection line and simply pulled out of line and drove right across the border without being stopped.

The moral of the story is that expensive technology and fences are no substitute for better border agents and better security at all checkpoints.

11 Steve Sailer October 11, 2006 at 10:53 pm

There’s little funnier than listening to people who have paid a lot extra to live in a gated community explain why fences can’t possibly work.

12 Douglas Knight October 11, 2006 at 11:30 pm

What should pro-transparency forces favor?

13 Chris October 12, 2006 at 10:18 am

Steve – Gated communities don’t stop crime, they stop loitering and soliciting. There is also a signifigant difference in the incentives to clime over the fence to a gated community that offers nothing but crime and a nation that offers signifigant opportunity.

14 Barkley Rosser October 12, 2006 at 1:14 pm

Peter Schaeffer,

LA is “hell on earth”? Give me a break. If it so
hellish, why is the population of the metro area
continuing to soar? Maybe it is hellish in the East LA
slums where the illegals hang out (and Watts is still
not the greatest urban neighborhood around), but most
of LA is pretty nice.

I am also wondering why you are making snide remarks
about Bob Putnam and the “veritas” of Harvard. I saw
nothing either wrong, illogical, stupid, or hypocritical
in anything you report him saying in the FT article.
Are you off the wall about him because he is described
as a “liberal” or wants to mitigate the possible negative
effects of diversity?

15 JohnDewey October 13, 2006 at 6:08 am

Peter Schaeffer,

Arrests in San Diego went down for two reasons:

– border crossers simply moved east to unsecured areas;
– 1,000 INS agents were relocated further east to where the crossings had shifted.

With or without a fence, at least 60,000 INS agents stationed along the border will be needed to stop crossings. A fence does nothing except slow down the immigrants and encourage them to seek other means to cross. They’ll build ladders and tunnels, sneak in by sea, enter as tourists.

I don’t know why I’m bothering arguing this. You’re not going to get your silly fence. All you’re going to do is split apart the Republican Party.

16 TGGP October 13, 2006 at 9:20 am

Barkley Rosser: If L.A sucks so much why does it keep growing? Because as bad as it is, it’s better than other countries. It’s not so swell for Americans. That’s why in terms of interstate migration the net flow is from blue states to red ones.

17 Jay Donohue October 27, 2006 at 4:36 pm

hi. I am Jay donohue. I like to kill puppies, and I wan’t illegals to take all your jobs. your mom. you can threaten me at:

by the way, you are adopted and your parents never loved you. even your friends only used you for your cash, and when it ran out, they beat you in your sleep. well, see you later.

18 Anonymous October 14, 2008 at 2:16 am

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