Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

During our drive to New Mexico last week we had to stop at two US Border Patrol checkpoints, one on the White Sands Missile Range inbound to Alamogordo, the other homebound on I-10 between Las Cruces and Deming. We were racially profiled at the first one, which is to say the BP agent glanced at us and waved us through, presumably because we don’t look Hispanic; on the return trip we had to say we were American citizens before we were allowed to go, so at least the agents at that checkpoint were being even-handed.

I’m not the only one worried that over time the Border Patrol will fall victim to mission creep. Right now we only have to stop and declare our citizenship in a 100-mile band along the southern border, but how long will it be before travelers crossing the heartland on I-40 have to stop at checkpoints? How long will it be before our word isn’t enough and we have to start producing documents to prove it?

A couple of weeks back a friend posted this to Facebook:

Screen Shot 2014-08-23 at 9.55.18 AM
Not the border fence

That, I shouldn’t have to say, is not the US/Mexico border fence. It’s a sand fence alongside the portion of I-8 that runs through the Imperial Sand Dunes between Yuma, Arizona and Calexico, California. It’s purpose is to keep the shifting dunes off the roadway, like those snow drift fences you see on the high plains up north.

The US/Mexico border is a few miles to the south. Here’s the actual border fence:
The actual border fence

I suspect my friend knew this, but his desire to stir up the rubes overcame his native honesty. He hit his target: the comments section quickly filled with ignorant outrage: Obama’s fence is a joke, here come the Mexicans with their terror babies and Ebola virus, why not just hang out a “Welcome to America” sign, etc. I responded with a photo of the actual border fence, the same one you see above … and it made absolutely no difference. Everyone ignored it, almost as if they were saying “You keep your reality, I’d rather believe Fox News.” I should have known better.

The fact is, Obama’s fence is longer, and higher, than ever. Border security, along with Border Patrol manning, has increased to unprecedented levels under Obama. Under Obama, an average of 33,000 undocumented immigrants are deported every month. Under Bush, the number was 21,000. But the right intentionally “un-sees” these facts because they don’t fit the narrative. If they ever get another Republican president the complaints will stop overnight, even if that president takes Reagan’s advice and takes down the wall.

All the fencing in the world will only slow border crossers down, just as the sand fence along I-8 will only slow the drift of the dunes. I titled this post with a line from Robert Frost’s poem Mending Wall. There’s another line I could have used as well: “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.”

© 2014, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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