Wednesday, June 16, 2010

If nothing else, the hullabaloo that’s going on in Arizona right now sounds the death knell for that time-worn adage, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’

Not anymore. At least not when national borders are concerned.

To the horror of some of my ideological fellow-travelers, I admit I’m not a ‘fence’ person myself. I oppose Israel’s continued building of fences to protect our borders and I oppose the US’s construction of fences between the US and Mexico.

Why? They’re ridiculously expensive – in monetary terms not to mention public opinion – but worse than that, they don’t work.

If you need any further proof of that, take a look at the video I just posted on Facebook. Here’s the link:

See that? Illegal aliens freely crawling over a fence in Arizona – a very costly fence, from the look of it. And absolutely worthless.

That’s the biggest problem with fences: people who want to get past them can do so. They can climb over. Or they can dig under. Or they can go around – there’s no such thing as an endless fence. As has been proven time and time again, they’ll just find somewhere without a fence to cross over.

It’s even more pointless in Israel – build any kind of a fence any engineer can design, and our Arab cousins have no trouble shooting their rockets and missiles right over them. A fence is worthless – and totally disastrous in terms of PR. Apartheid state, indeed!

No fence is going to be effective unless you have the will – and the cash – to put soldiers with rifles all along the way, with orders to shoot (as Egypt does, at least on occasion). If you can’t – or won’t – do that, there’s not much point in building a fence. And if you’re going to put armed soldiers on the border with the authority to stop invaders by force, then you don’t need the expensive fence. Some more normalized border-marking device will do just fine.

For obvious reasons, I doubt the US – let alone poor persecuted Israel – has the moral will to actually shoot invaders, although you have to admit it wouldn’t take very long to make the point. Word travels quickly about that kind of thing. A couple of days of concentrated effort would probably do it, but as I say, I don’t think either country has the stomach for that. Not even for a few days.

What would work, then? It’s so simple: you have to take away the rewards for people who enter a country illegally. Remove the incentives that come with breaking the law. Punish those who commit this crime just as we punish people who commit other crimes. Deport them. Immediately.

I’ve compared illegal immigration to the childhood game of ‘Red Rover, Red Rover’ before. That’s precisely the game both Israel and the US are playing. We erect our barriers, then shout, ‘Red Rover, Red Rover, let anyone come over!’ – and when someone does, when someone breaks through the barrier, they get rewarded. They win!

In the US, successful illegal immigrants get citizenship for any child born on US soil – which entitles the entire extended family to welfare benefits as well. They get education, medical care and work opportunities far beyond what their home countries provide.

In Israel, taxpayers supply all manner of ‘humanitarian aid’ -- food, housing, education, counseling, and jobs. Israel is a haven compared to where they came from – and don’t think they don’t know it.

What you have to do is take away the rewards linked to entering a country illegally –any country. If an illegal immigrant would find that the moment he’s discovered, he was actually going to be shipped back where he came from, that would change things.

If no one would hire them, that would help. If their newborns didn’t automatically receive citizenship -- with all the benefits that entails – but were also shipped back, pregnant women would stop trying to have their babies in the US.

If there weren’t a host of government programs – not to mention charities -- eager to feed, clothe, house and otherwise cater to the needs of illegal immigrants, it would profoundly decrease the incentive to break the law and come.

All that said – at least in the US – both Republicans and Democrats like illegal immigrants. They erect pretend-fences to keep them out, but there’s no will to actually punish the crime of illegal entry. Democrats see a massive number of dedicated new voters who will become the next generation of welfare clients, determined to keep the Dems in office. Republicans like illegals because Big Agriculture likes cheap labor, because they’re afraid to offend what’s already a formidable voting bloc, and because it might seem racist to take a stand.

So we build fences – at enormous cost – that serve as nothing but attractive nuisances, tempting would-be freeloaders to break through. Get past the fence, and you’re not only home free, but you can pick up your $200 every time you pass go.

What a crazy system.

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