Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Bad Fences, Bad Neighbors

Well this one ought to get your all stirred up – how about building hundreds of miles of fences on the border to keep out the Mexicans? Today the US Senate approved a measure to authorize 370 miles of fencing and the House has already approved 700 miles. Naturally, nobody knows where the money – appropriations – is going to come from. It is sure to cost billions by any estimates, not including patrolling and maintaining the suckers.

I already know why folks want such a fence, since it makes the (you fill in the blank here) feel good. “Good fences are good neighbors.”

OK, but at what cost? Sure, border apprehensions in the Tijuana District went from 100,000 a year to a few thousand today, but the coyotes and folks are just moving their routes to Arizona … and coming in bigger numbers and having more deaths in the desert. So, do I get this right, we will build a few hundred miles of fence to make MORE people cross the border and cause more people to die?

May I also remind the humble reader that 700 miles of fencing, as dictated under the House plan, would stretch from Atlanta to Chicago. Wow, that’s a big ole DMZ (demilitarized zone, but extremely militarized). See, plans are for three fences, each behind each other. One is a favorite for the frontline is to use old aircraft landing pads made of steel, which is no longer any good, to make vertical panels. This is so the drug dealers and coyotes can’t crash their vehicles through the fence. The picture shows the welded landing panels at the Pacific side south of San Diego. You can just imagine it at the Gulf where the Rio Grande comes out – you know, the border.

Then, there’s a 12-15 foot fence made of barbed wire, called “Sandia wire” for the inventors at Sandia Labs. Nice touch. The final coup-de-grace is a regular cyclone fence with curved compound wire on top. The entire triple fence system is over 150 feet wide, allowing border patrols and the military to conduct their operations, patrols, and raids. Of course, the fence system is just bristling with motion, light, heat, pressure, and other remote sensing devices, which requires a lot of teckies and geeks. Heck that’s a lot of resources we’re talking here, when you talk about mountains, deserts, streams, cables, computers, and so forth.

My point is not that anything is good or bad – sorry for sounding sarcastic – but that it costs a lot to construct, operate, and then figure out if it did any good for the investment. As a businessman I face these questions every day. For example, over the last week I was going to purchase some data software for $11,000 … that would make me exactly $11,000 in cash, thereby with absolutely no profit. I apologize in advance if I feel that way about this subject too.


nancy said...

Sounds like "The Iron Curtain". Do you remember those ads when you were little for Radio Free Europe. Maybe they should just build a "Great Wall" then it would at least be a tourist attraction.

I wonder what affect it will have on migratory land creatures?

Definitely tacky --take it a little further: They could interweave red, white and blue venetian blind slats through the fence ....

Ex-Manissean said...

No wall needed, just have the same immigration laws that are in the Mexican Constitution, for example:
Any foreignor who wants a permit to work in Mexico must first demonstrate they have a skill or Job that cannot be done by a Mexican Citizen.
Legal immigrants are not allowed to protest Mexican Laws or demonstrate in Marches, this is a felony.
American Citizens Retirees who wish to live in Mexico must provide proof of a minimun of $1500 a month income.
So all we need to do is enforce the same laws our freinds do and there will be no problem.

Sam said...

I sure remember Radio Free Europe amd all that, Nancy, although I was a kid. And Ex-Manissean, I hadn't thought about reciprocity - what an idea!

One thing I learned is that technically, a US citizen cannot own land in Mexico. Nope, you have to lease it ... well last I checked it was that way. To attract US retirement bucks, some developers have 50 or 100 year leases, which works great for them. Anyone have any updates on this kind of thing?

Interesting ...

papabeare said...

One difference as far as " The Iron Curtain", East Germany/Russia were trying to keep their people in....even if they had to build a wall and have armed gaurds, mine fields etc. Mexico gives their citizens maps of the US border and helps them leave!! Its not "just" the immigrants, what about the drugs that flow through in a flood?? Seems to me like you need either multiple fences the entire length of BOTH borders, or the Army posted or Both.

BTW, anyone notice that you dont just cross the border to go into China, Japan, Germany, France, Russia, India, Norway, or just about any other country you care to name ?? But its somehow wrong for the US to want secure borders? Yes, you can walk into Mexico...but if you get caught, their law is Very Harsh!

Also? If we let 12 million Mexicans stay, how long do you think before some sharp lawyer demands that millions of people from India, China, Ireland, Phillipines, etc. etc. etc. also be allowed in. Can we have an exception made for one group and not another?

I understand , life in Mexico sucks....but instead of 1 million protesters in LA, and 100,000 in Dallas, Houston, etc, how about having the same people protest in Mexico City etc since its the Mexican Govt thats so screwed up?


Sam said...

God points, all, and I'm not so sure about the "amnesty" topic regarding workers from Mexico - other than those from other countries have quotas.

Interesting factoid - since 2001 there have been restrictions of temporary summer workers from many countries, but the US Virgin Islands stocks a whole bunch of them ... because it is a US territory, not a foreign country. They're showing up in the hot vacation spots on the East Coast like Nantucket (that's Nancy-Tucket, right?).

According to my peeps on Block Island, a little island near Nancy-Tucket, they can't hire local college kids because they (1) want too much money and (2) they party like wild animals and (3) they usually leave in two weeks. Bartenders and managers are the few exceptions to the rule ... and the locals snap up those jobs pretty darn fast.

Interesting times, no?

Lucinda said...

I think it is time to think outside the fence...
I understand that Kinky is proposing some sort of plan where we would use the fence-building money to pay off the Mexican honchos to police their own borders -- every illegal that sneaks through would cost them real money.

I know there are logistical issues here, but why not pursue solutions that make use of carrots instead of whips?