Berlin Wall in Our Backyard

The Senate has matched the failures of the House. Yesterday, just in time for campaign-time recess, the Senate approved -- by a count of 80 to 19 -- a bill to construct 700 miles of double-layered fencing along our southern border. Our Senators, who passed a more comprehensive and bi-partisan immigration bill in May that the House never considered, made no changes to the House's most recent vote ploy, and "[t]he president has indicated that he will sign [the bill]," according to The Washington Post. This from the one party that wore flip flops to its national convention in 2004 to mock Sen. John Kerry's alleged waffling on issues and the other party that tries to convince us it's just as strong as its opponents.

We, as a young and uninformed nation, used to have the excuse that we did not know about our politicians' overarching self-interest that far outweighed reason, integrity, and the well-being of our nation and, indeed, the world. Information did not break and spread so efficiently. Now it does. We have watched it all play out before us. We have shrugged, sighed, and shaken our heads. We have had no effect.

We watch as our lawmakers blatantly mock their duties to us to pander to extremists and the uninformed in preparation for an election almost upon us. They transparently use taxpayer money to fund partisan campaign stops, masquerading as open hearings, and we roll our eyes. They have taken the easiest route of no debate, of over-simplistic treatment of a complicated and important issue to ensure that they, both as individuals and as political parties, hold or gain seats at the polls.

This would be shameful enough were the effects of such behavior merely political. They are not. Our ignorantly drawn border long ago split at least one nation -- the Tohono O'odham -- that existed before ours. Our enforcement of inappropriate and insufficient immigration laws has disrupted the natural migrant cycles and increased the undocumented population of this country that it purported to eliminate. And instead of recognizing this, thinking, and changing tactics, we will continue to exacerbate the situation. We will dig the hole deeper at the expense of taxpayer dollars and human lives.

This new fencing -- if it can be built through the harsh desert landscape of ravines and rivers and jagged mountain peaks that stretch along the border -- will leave 1,300 miles of our southern border uncovered. That's 1,300 miles of borderlands in which people will attempt to cross and continue to perish in the wilderness -- and 1,300 miles of borderlands through which our undocumented population should continue to grow. And that's if this particular show of commitment to "security" lasts beyond election day: Congress has approved only $1.2 billion of the $6 billion it's estimated the fence will cost, according to The Post.

The argument that this wall will help secure us from terrorism also fails. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), who until this past week stood for more comprehensive immigration reform, claims this wall will help fight terrorism: "'Fortifying our borders is an integral component of national security,' Frist said. 'We can't afford to wait.'" (WP)

But not even in the Tucson sector of the border, which has seen the highest migrant flows, has Border Patrol encountered even a hint of terrorist activity, according to Sam Lucio, a Supervising Agent for that sector. We have, however, heard of terrorist action on airplanes and even an alleged terror cell in Detroit. Perhaps we should ground all planes and wall up the Motor City. It worked so well for Berlin.

With the passage of this bill -- and the possible re-elections of the pandering politicians who seek to enact it -- hostilities, xenophobia, and ambient fear will continue to grow among us, as will our undocumented population and the death tolls of migrants. Everyone stands for disappointment except the politicians looking to keep their jobs -- and the already booming human-smuggling business that will surely boom even harder with this new measure. These men and women on Capitol Hill are our public servants, yet we are serving them. With this bill, the American people lose.

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