Monday, July 16, 2007

The Great Wall of USA: Why it Will Fail

The Great Wall of China was built, over time starting in the 221th Century BC, as a method of stopping the invading army from the north. With time, the wall had eroded or sections destroyed and rebuilt time and time again until 1644, when the Manchus managed to cross the wall. Since then, they conquered lands far beyond the reach of the Great Wall and slowly the maintenance of the wall was reduced until it was forgotten. Move forward to the 21st Century and many walls around the world had been constructed only to be forgotten because they never fully accomplished their mission; to stop others from entering. Other reasons include changes in politics, high cost of maintenance, areas conquered beyond the wall, or forgotten over time only to be remembered in the history books. Let’s look at why this wall or fence is no different from all the ones before it: cost, politics, maintenance, geography, environmental, man power, and views about what a wall means to Mexicans, to name a few.
According to the International Boundary and Water Commission, the distance between the U.S. and Mexico from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean is 1,951 miles. The Rio Grande River (Rio Bravo in Mexico), which is the dividing line between the U.S. and Mexico, extends for 1,254 miles from the Gulf of Mexico until it reaches El Paso. Like all rivers, the Rio Grande River is not a straight river but a meandering river much like a snake slithering across the ground. Just in one linear mile, a river, if extended to form a straight line, can stretch for tens of miles due to the fact that the river can zigzag much like writing in cursive. Also, there is very thick vegetation that stretches along the river banks for hundreds of miles that is a life sustaining force for all creatures that live and require the river to survive.
If a wall or fence were to be built along the Rio Grande River, just imagine the logistics of building it. Would you follow the actual river, which would mean multiplying the 1254 miles by an average of a winding river if it were to be stretched in linear form, or building the wall (from now on I will refer to the wall as both an actual wall or fence since there is no way of knowing which one will be built) some miles away to form a straight line? This would equal to about 5,000 to 10,000 miles of river! Following the actual river would require about five to ten times as much material (averaging 5 to 10 miles of stretched linear river per mile) to build a wall. If the wall were to be built some miles away from the river to form a straighter wall, that would required eminent domain to “take away” land that has belonged to people who have lived there all their lives and need and require the river to sustain their agriculture and live stock.
Like all rivers, the Rio Grande River does, on occasions, change shape do to flooding, erosion, and even human intervention. This, intern, changes the boundary between the US and Mexico. This can happen when a river changes course by winding back onto itself creating a loop and then cutting off to a new direction leaving a piece of land cut off from one country and entering into another. If, say the wall were to be built along the river banks and a hurricane came along dumping enough rain to cause substantial flooding, which, in turn, causes the river to change shape, thereby changing the international boundaries, then not only will parts of the wall be destroyed but could also end up on the Mexican side. Mexicans would only be so happy to pick at it until nothing was left. Also, the US would be forced to spend more billions of dollars to fix or rebuild the wall and any roads. Nature is a force to be reckoned with and can never be totally controlled by humans. The cost of maintaining the wall would far exceed the need to have it in the first place. Taxpayers will eventually see the downside of paying for a wall that will forever require money to be maintained. The political landscape would then change course, like a river, demanding that the wall be removed and spend that money on other useful projects like education, transportation, and such, very similar to Iraq’s situation. People’s mind shift and change as often as rivers do and media follows the latest news and trends.
The media has been a willing or unwilling force that pounds its airwaves with whatever the people want to hear and whatever makes them money. Today immigration is a threat requiring the wall but tomorrow immigration is a friend needing to “tear down that wall.” Billions would have been spent and illegal immigration would continue to flow with or without a wall.
No matter how you build that wall, the mere fact that it is being built with material that eventually erode, corrode, or breaks with time, the wall will eventually disappear and with it, the will or money to continue to maintain it. Say a fence was to be built along the entire river front. Then add smugglers and others needing to get across to the US. It would only take a manner of time to figure out a way to get through it. Smugglers would send people to cut through the fence at various points causing more time, money and man power to seal it, but eventually, people get through. There are only so many holes that you can plug up before the dam breaks.
Lastly, there is a treaty between the US and Mexico that precludes the fence from being built in the first place. This treaty is summed up as saying that neither nation can build a wall that will, in some fashion, distort the flow of the river due to any man-made object. Changing the flow and direction of the river causes the border between the two nations to change, thereby, defying the treaty. The International Boundary & Water Commission is responsible for making sure that the border between the two nations remains as is.
What would happen if the US builds a fence that will eventually lead to changing the border boundaries? Will the US defy the treaty and act in arrogance and build the wall. What message are we sending Mexico? How would Mexico react? No one knows but it is safe to say that it’s best not to find out.
The question now is, how best to resolve the issue with illegal immigration into the US via the Mexico-US border? First of all, of the 12 million illegal immigrants that entered the US, half did so by legal means, meaning that they overstayed their visas. The other half presumably entered through the southern US border while a small fraction entered by other means and location. The money that is being spent on a fence that would not due much would be better invested in the US Immigration department and Customs & Border Patrol (CBP) at all ports of entry such as airports, land ports, and sea ports. CBP is so severely underfunded and undermanned that they can not due their jobs effectively and efficiently causing low moral, frustration, and poor job performance in checking all those entering the US. These departments are one of the most important departments in the US’s efforts to combat illegal immigration yet one of the least funded. Even worse, both the US Immigration and CBP were forced to merge duties causing havoc and poor understanding of each others jobs. US Immigration is (was) responsible for issuing I-94’s (permits to enter US beyond the border region) and making sure that only qualified foreigners enters, whereas CBP was responsible for checking vehicles and visas of people coming via land ports. Both serves very different functions and now are forced to learn each others jobs and add on to stress and confusion to an already overburden system and lack of proper training in each of the different departments and procedures.
Both departments need to separate and continue doing the work they used to due and Congress and the White House need to increase funding and hire more people while adding proper training in US Immigration laws. Then, the US will be able to curb illegal immigration. Also, Border Patrol needs to add more people to the frontlines and have better equipment that will help them find and capture illegal immigration into the US.
But as long as people remain ignorant of the border geography, treaties, culture, and continue to believe the media that loves to feed on such issues while providing improper knowledge of border issues, and the White House and Congress’s unwillingness to provide the proper funding for border posts, the issue with illegal immigration will continue even with a fence or wall. The only difference is that illegal immigration will shift to a different area while the US tries to plug up the holes in the walls with their fingers. Eventually the damn will break and the story starts all over again.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

you woke up! i hope you blog more regularly now. any thoughts on the latest local elections and the various controversies that have already surfaced? is the downtown committee still active? i'll continue to check back.

patricia a.

9:09 PM  
Blogger TonyL said...

I haven't been able to write here due to busy schedule. I will try an update whenever possible but will be few this year.

To anwser your questions:

1. Can you be more specific about the type of issues you are inquiring about. It would help me to answer if I new exactly the type of issues you wish to know my opinion about.

As far as the DRAC is concerned, which is the committee you are talking about, yes, it is active but we have had several meeting cancellations this year, which I'm not to happy about. But it is active.

Thanks for your comments and hope to answer any specific question you may have.


12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i was referring to the $2 fee on the PUB bill that will be designated for the three A's: ambulances, arts, and animals. i am very frustrated with the way it was done, even though i would like to see all of these issues be addressed. I also didn't think these three distinct issues should have been lumped together. the reason i ask is because you are obviously very interested in seeing downtown be revitalized and there are others who have that kind of interest in other areas of concern. yet, 1/3 of the $2 will go to two very specific organizations, so there is no chance for anyone else to apply for funding designated as a 'cultural budget'. anyways, i was just curious about your thoughts on this. also, i hope when those drac meetings do occur, you post some unofficial minutes to update us on the happenings of the committee.

patricia a.

9:01 PM  
Blogger TonyL said...

Sorry for this late response but I've been very busy lately.

To answer your question:

The $2 fee-Stupid. Even worse, nobody knew if it had passed the 1st time it was even mention. Now it appears that it failed. What terrible leadership as a mayor if you ask me. Hopefully he improves over time. Another gipe about the fee. There was never a mention as to the breakdown of the fee (God save his dogs!) but guarantee it's more for the damn dogs. And how did he come up with the lsit of who would receive the monies and how was the fee to be enforced? A collection agency? Is the city going to hire a collection agency for $2? Nah. Well, you get the idea here. I could go on but don't have too much time on this one. It was illfully sought up and implemented. No thanks to the other commissioners who voted for it with out thinking about its implications.

Also, on the issue of the moratorium on the euthinization of dogs:

Stupid! Again. How can the animal control go about picking up strays if there's no room? How about all the animals that will now rome the streets with no one to control them? Again, the mayor did not thinnk this thru.

Man, and don't get me started on the issue when he went on record in The Herald that he would defy the ordinance instead of thrying to change it. If he defies the ordinancel whats to keep others from defying them it and other ordinances as well? Stupid, stupid. No thought process going on here. He should set the example as mayor.

Mr. Mayor, if you do read this, please don't dissapoint those who voted for you and all the citizens of B'ville! Stop acting arrogant and work in a team effort with other commissioners. I'll tell you, I've been to numerous meetings when Mr. Trevino was mayor and he kept a tight ship with order and control. If something did not add up or was not clear, he would make sure it was before the final votes.

He definately was the catpain of the ship. Aways asking important questions and letting others speak, most of the time.

Well, there you have it. Some of my thoughts on these issues.

As for the Minutes of the DRAC, I'll see but there's too many. I did post some in my website but it's from last year. I don't have the program that designs and updates websites anymore so who knows when I will update my website again.

4:32 PM  
Blogger vbradford2009 said...

I agree that the border fence will eventually fail much like the Belin Wall. It would be a sad commentary to build the wall, and then later, destroy the wall because it fail. Building a wall is like "squeezing the balloon." The problem will "pop" out somewhere else.

7:36 PM  

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