I don't have much to add to these effective and thorough discussion posts. This week, though, I heard the most ironic news release regarding fence-building between countries in order to keep out illegals. Mexico has decided to erect a wall on its southern border--to keep out unwanted people from, presumably, South America. Why? It's costing them too much to have so many people draining resources from legal citizens... and all the other problems which naturally occur. Isn't that something.
A fence, by definition, if well-constructed and patrolled, can be an effective barrier and provide us with better security in terms of the flow of people and goods across our borders. Besides allowing us to better control access to our borders, it can also more effectively prevent drug and human trafficking.
Unfortunately, we have a very long northern and southern border, and it is not really cost effective to build such a fence. Much of it would be across very remote territory and would be expensive and hard to monitor and maintain. Then we have a very long coastline as well, and some say immigrants would simply find a water route into the United States. The bottom line, to me, is that as long as there is economic opportunity on one side of the fence, and a lack of economic opportunity on the other, people will find a way over, under or through the barrier.
I think the previous thoughts were strong. The security argument here works very well. A positive implication of this would be that it would employ a great many people to build the fence, individuals who are looking for work. I think that there might be some disconnect between American History and its narrative of being a haven in a heartless world for those in need and the erection of a fence to keep people out of it. It seems that a nation that has the Statue of Liberty with Lazarus’ description in one part of the country might not be able to coexist with a fence from the theoretical point of view. At the same time and along these lines, I think that the idea of building a fence conveys the image and perception of fear in America, that the nation is not able to fully understand how to address the changing dynamics of the world setting, but only withdraw from it. When Zakaria argues that America is having a difficult time understanding its place in the world in the context of “the rise of the rest,” I think that the building of the fence might be another perception issue adding to this idea.
One thing to consider first is that those who are in favor of building a fence strongly believe it will work - but only if it actually runs across the entire border. Those in Arizona who had several miles of fence built in 2006 said that the number of immigrants crossing in their desert area was significantly reduced. They say the amount this country already spends in illegal immigrant costs (from healthcare to education to crime) far exceedes the price of building and patrolling the fence. If the fence is built - it will work (they say) and actually reduce the number of immigrants - thereby reducing the overall cost to the country.
On the flip side, many believe that a fence will not be sufficient to keep people out. They will simply come up with other methods of entry. Several Catholic priests, among others, have raised this concern - that building a fence will only encourage more dangerous methods of getting across the border, and will inevitably result in a higher loss of life.
If it is done correctly, a border fence would be more effective than having humans who patrol the border. The human beings can only cover a relatively small area of the border (since we do not have enough money to pay for enough people to patrol every part of the border all the time). That means that illegal immigrants can evade them easily.
To me, the main problem with a fence is that it, too, is very expensive. The border is a very long place and it would cost a great deal of money to build a fence that would truly be able to prevent potential illegal immigrants from crossing. In addition, you can say that a wall would make us look bad in the eyes of the world.
I think that we should concentrate on requiring employers to verify that they are hiring legal immigrants. If there were not jobs that were willing to hire illegals, they would not be likely to come.