Building a fence between properties establishes the boundaries and limitation of social relations. Between neighboring countries a fence may be declared as the boundaries of sovereignty and rule that the United States insist as its reason for building one to ward off the entry of illegal aliens into American soil. Securing the external boundaries of the US is actually the main aim on building a more extensive fence. It would positively prevent illegal entry, detecting, interdicting and apprehending undocumented entrants, smugglers, contraband and violation of other laws (Nevins, 2002: 3). Restoring integrity and safety to the busiest border would naturally control the flow of unauthorized people coming in from Mexico. While some believe that border operations is a worthwhile and serious effort of the United States that has been long overdue in order to stem the influx of Mexicans and other nationalities into the US, some express disgust over a fencing procedure that would cost more than $3billion (Lustik, 2006:100).
Why the US should not fence?
Lack of Mexican approval
The US cannot set-up an impenetrable barrier or fence along the southern border because this procedure would ignore Mexico and leave a large hole in the US security perimeter when the US needs Mexico’s cooperation as part of its security measures (Tapen and Condon, 2003: xvi). The US cannot function alone in its strict border regulations without tapping Mexico’s help. Mexican President Vicente Fox had already envisioned a border where Mexicans can freely cross and work in the United States and denounced that a fence is “disgraceful and shameful” which it cannot simply permit (Schulzinger, 2006: 397). Most Americans know little about the extent to which the United States has depended on cheap Mexican labor particularly in construction for which they have been depending on for more than 100 years. Mexicans had been used in the linchpin of its economic integration and that the status of Mexican labor stands out at the very center relations (Ferrante, 2005:32). At least 7Million farmers within Mexico export $5Billion in agricultural products and 90% of Mexico’s exports go to the US each year. Cost Concerns
A 2,000 mile state-of-the-art border fence has been estimated to cost between four and eight billion dollars for a wall that would run the entire length of the border with 10-foot prison chain link fence topped by razor wire and securely electrified (Schulzinger, 2006: 397).A border built on a difficult terrain would cost a lot not to mention the cost for its maintenance. In essence, the US could build its thick wall to ward off illegal aliens from entering and waive any and all legal requirements necessary to build such fences, not only in San Diego, but anywhere else along the 2,000 mile border. However it should study the costs for its construction and maintenance against the negative effects and wastage it can bring to taxpayer’s money before engaging in such a costly act.
Corruption and other controversial concerns
A fencing project apart from its sky-high cost could cause monumental logistic problems, including right-of-way issues and potential eminent domain proceedings that will soon allow the government to confiscate land in its favor and under the guise of sovereignty. Landowners could do nothing while land is expropriated for government use for which ownership would never be reversed even after it has duly served its purpose. Borders will likely permit clever people to play on one side against the other that was already employed when tunnels were dug where one led to a vacant warehouse in California and apparently used for smuggling or illegal aliens and marijuana (Young, 2004:313); (Nevins, 2002:4).
Environmental and Peace Concerns
As of 2005, just over 80 miles of federally enforced barriers and fencing were at strategic points on the border, mainly in Texas and California with chain-link fences stretching and running along a road with a secondary fence. The California Coastal Commission voted in February 2004 to deny the project because of erosion concerns (Schulzinger, 2006:402). The US in its struggle to insist on sovereignty amidst environmental issues has forgotten that a barrier will likely disrupt US marine and wildlife migration from jaguars, deers to hawks and humming birds along a wildlife corridor linking northern Mexico and the US southwest known as the “Sky Islands” (Morgenthaler, 2004:231). An impenetrable barrier with a double enforced wall would have a devastating effect species as supported by claims from environmental non-profit groups. Likewise, fencing could cut through as many as nine protected areas covering more than 1 million acres of world-class national landscape according to Arizona townspeople.
Likewise in an area in Douglas Arizona, a five mile steel fence which has already been built has faced numerous complaints from its citizens. The building of its present steel fence according to its mayor and officials has increased border patrol agents and the stepped-up reinforcements has made their town a militarized zone in 1999 (Andreas, 2000:91).
Many of the cited concerns may have been ignored but are potent factors to withdraw any plans for the building of a ridiculous and costly fence. The US’ war against terror cannot justify building a fence that would stretch for miles along the common border which both countries have shared. For several years, the United States has enjoyed cheap labor and imports from Mexico and amidst plans for a guest worker visa; the US has added stringent border control measures. Fencing the border is considered an all-out war against illegal immigration but at what cost is the United States willing to shoulder in its insistence for integrity and sovereignty?
Andreas, Peter. (2000). Border Games: Policing the US-Mexico Divide. Cornell University.
Ferrante, Joan. (2005). Sociology: A Global Perspective. Thomson Wadsworth.
Lustick, Ian S.(2006).Trapped in the War on Terror. Pennsylvania Press.
Nevins, Joseph. (2002). Operation Gatekeeper:The Rise of the Illegal Alien and the making of the US-Mexico Boundary. Routledge.
Schulzinger, Robert D. (2006). A Companion to American Foreign Relations. Blackwell Publishing.
Tapen, Sinha and Condon, Bradly. (2003).Drawing Lives in Sand and Snow: Border Security and Economic Integration. ME Sharpe.
Young, Elliott. (2004).Catarino Garza’s Revolution on the Texas-Mexico Border. Duke University Press.