Just east of Spooner’s Mesa, along the U.S.-Mexico border, members of National Guard units are busily building the new triple border fence. The concrete monstrosity that is about 12-15 feet high sits to the north of the existing metal fence that sits on top of the actual boundary line.

The new fence, according to Duncan Hunter, is designed to stop members of al-Qaida from crossing the border with nuclear weapons and blowing up the Point Loma nuclear sub base. It will also stop people from crossing the border illegally to travel to their job sites in North County.

But as one veteran Border Patrol agent I recently talked to (way off the record) told me, “Mexico and the U.S. don’t want to stop immigration. This is just a big show.”

What I love most about Mexico is the resourcefulness of its citizens to develop simple technological solutions to solve everyday problems. In the world of a lo Mexicano, milk cartons become engine gaskets, used tires become hillside stabilization tools, and rebar is transformed into a border fence grappling hook and ladder. The current tool designed to stymie the Border Patrol is a 12-foot long piece of rebar with foot pegs welded on it with a large hook at one end. What maquiladora is pumping those out?

The grappling hook is then attached to the border fence. When lookouts give the okay sign, the migrant swiftly climbs the makeshift ladder his or her way up and over the fence — and then splat! jumps down to El Norte. If they are lucky, they make it. If they don’t, “We get broken legs, broken ankles and dislocated shoulders,” the Border Patrol agent told me. “Thecoyotes don’t care what happens to them once they get up and over that fence.”

I once had a graduate seminar at the University of Texas with Mexican scholar Luis Javier Garrido, one of Mexico’s experts on the former ruling party (PRI) and electoral fraud. He argued that some of Mexico’s best minds were not involved in building the economy, but in figuring out how to commit electoral fraud. Along the border there is an entire economic sector devoted to devising new ways of getting people and products across the increasingly expensive and useless walls we are committed to building. These border consultants work in a pure free market system — social entrepreneurs with a big profit motive and the willingness to use violence if necessary. Their adversaries are federal civil servants. Who do you think is going to win?


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