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Last week on my way to Ensenada, I drove by the newest symbol of the Bush administration’s quest for freedom and democracy—a triple border barrier on Spooner’s Mesa just across from southwestern Tijuana that is reminiscent of the Berlin Wall. The newest anti-democracy fortification, built by National Guard units with no regard for federal or state environmental laws and basic engineering principles, will not improve our homeland security. It only weakens it.
This new wall that tramples the U.S. Constitution, the rule of law and the very foundation of our democracy, represents the worst of the national security state that President Bush and his handlers have imposed on our great nation. With no due process and no public participation, they have allowed incompetent government planners to implement policies based on 1950s era national security hysteria. Meanwhile these political appointees ignore the root causes of terrorism, leaving our security vulnerable through a weakened economy, unnecessary war and the establishment of an incompetent, ideologically driven, contractor-based bureaucracy.
So while Michael Chertoff makes plans to obliterate protected parkland and private property along the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas and disappear Border Field State Park at the southwestern corner of San Diego County, the United States does nothing to stop the flow of polluted air and water across the international border that imperils the health of hundreds of thousands of people who live on both sides of the newest Berlin Wall and border patrol agents tasked with defending our security.
National Guard units build Chertoff’s illegal wall without any consideration of even the most basic erosion control practices (a key feature of authoritarian government planning is faulty engineering), while their supervisors in Washington D.C. ignore the fact that the wall will actually exacerbate the pollution problems that make so many border patrol agents ill. Ideology trumps democracy along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The biggest defender of Chertoff’s Wall, Congressman Brian Bilbray, fled his U.S.-Mexico border hometown of Imperial Beach for the safety of the country club enclaves of North San Diego County. Luckily for the residents of Rancho Santa Fe, threatened by terrorist moles disguised as gardeners, construction workers and maids, Bilbray believes that the Chertoff Wall will improve the domestic security of his constituents despite the inconveniences of dirty dishes and un-manicured lawns. Such is the price of war.
For those of us who are residents of the U.S.-Mexico border, our families, friendships and communities and nations are made stronger by connecting us through a trans-boundary culture of democracy. I can only hope that our next president, despite his or her party affiliation, will recognize that we can only protect our homeland security through respect for the rule of law rather than by erecting a 2,000-mile gulag of fear.