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Indeed, Michael, as I noted in my reply to Ann, the border fence is only one small part of the CBP’s official three-pronged approach to border enforcement. And so, if we spend ALL of our money on just one aspect of this, are we really doing an adequate job of enforcement? And of course, you raise broader questions about framing. Since 9/11, the Bush Administration has reframed the entire issue of immigration in terms of national security, narrowing the scope of debate and turning every border crosser into a potential criminal. In fact, labor migration is common worldwide, and even I, as a university professor, have many opportunities to leave the United States and make far more money elsewhere in the world where universities don’t suffer from lack of funding and dwindling public confidence. Can we blame people for seeking a better life for themselves and their children, as our own ancestors did?
Serge, you make a great point here about lack of good media coverage. I think I saw a program once on PBS about strip mining and mountaintop removal in Appalachia. But who thinks of that happening here in sunny southern California? We definitely associate these practices with poor areas or developing countries, and perhaps this is why it is so hard to take it seriously in San Diego County. But yes, the construction sites are shocking and the devastation is irrevocable at this point.
Wow, I hadn’t heard about the southbound inspections. That does sound very Cold War to me. And you’re right—should the US be using its resources to do a job that legally ought to be a function of the Mexican state? To what extent does the US guarantee that it is respecting the interests and legal rights of Mexico? Not to mention the violation of the rights of travelers, who, ostensibly, have the right to leave the U.S.
Absolutely. That’s what really bothers me most about the exorbitant funding that the feds are putting into this border wall. In fact, the wall is not working. According to a study by Wayne Cornelius, director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at The University of California, San Diego, 92 percent of Mexican migrants trying to enter the U.S. illegally eventually succeed. People do keep trying, and the border patrol knows that all too well. I was down at the border fence one day interviewing some migrants who were waiting to cross back into the U.S. One of them had worked for eight years as a roofer in Seattle, and was suddenly deported this past year (hmmm … maybe the downturn in the housing market had something to do with that sudden enforcement of the law?) Anyway, he told me that he was deported all the way out to Nogales, and he had made his way back to Tijuana, and had been waiting there four months to cross back. His wife and kids are back in Seattle, and after eight years, his life is there.
See Jill Holslin’s blog here.
— JILL HOLSLIN