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On Immigration: Understanding border walls

If border walls actually do not work, then what about...

So goes the argument that will be made against the previous post in this series on immigration myths, fallacies, and misconceptions. Are there not examples of border barriers that are actually effective in keeping out certain people or problems?

Not Mere Border Walls
In the U.S.-Mexico context, proponents of more border walls argue that they would indeed work. They point in particular to the Israeli-Palestinian border wall. The Israeli prime minister himself has offered it to the U.S. president as a model of what could be done with the country's southern neighbor. The actual name of that wall, however, is instructive. It is the “Israeli West Bank Barrier.” It is not a border wall; it is a heavily fortified and militarized obstruction over a relatively short distance that Israel controls with an iron fist. Parts of it have been ruled illegal according to international law. So proponents are right when they say that border walls …
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Immigration Myth #1: Border walls work.

As opposed to the previous two posts that focused on a fallacy about immigrants, we now take on an actual myth. It is not just a fallacy. It is a myth that border walls work. They are a categorically bad geopolitical idea. It may be possible to find some example in history where a border wall actually achieved its purpose, but as a geopolitical construct, border walls simply do not work. (There is one very obvious objection to this assertion, to which I will respond in an addendum post.)
Why do border walls not work? Presumably a wall is to keep out the unwanted (drugs, crime, undocumented immigrants). Borders walls and fences, however, have almost without exception failed spectacularly at doing so. (This is true even where the border obstruction is not a literal wall but rather a body of water or some other obstacle.) The reason is simple. As long as the motivation to go through, around, over, or under a wall is strong enough, people will do so. Newer walls, designed by brilliant engin…

Immigration Fallacy #1: Immigrants are dangerous. (Part 2)

Following on the previous post in this series on immigration myths, fallacies, and misconceptions, this brief essay continues to explain why immigrants should not be portrayed as dangerous. Consider three specific areas of threat or danger:

Immigrants do not generally present a physical danger.
Clearly many people who advocate stricter immigration controls do not harbor xenophobia. Some of them just cannot see past the threat of terrorism or gang violence. This is a very real concern and should be treated seriously. But as the previous post explains, this fear is unfounded in regard to immigrants. If it is a fear that you experience, I understand. I have family members that live under the constant threat and danger of the most barbaric cartel violence you can imagine. But if you have been led to believe that tighter immigration restrictions, more deportations, or higher border walls will make you safe, then you have been misled. That violence spreads regardless of those apparent solutio…

Immigration Fallacy #1: Immigrants are dangerous (Part 1)

Immigrants are not dangerous, in any general sense.

An argument for stricter immigration policy invariably depends on the explicit statement that the immigrants in question are dangerous. They may be depicted as criminals, terrorists, invaders, or simply uncouth. And the statement is simply wrong. It is not that immigrants are categorically un-dangerous, because any human could be dangerous. But generally speaking, immigrants do not present any significant danger or threat, just like most random people you pass on the road or sidewalk are not dangerous.

One objection, of course, is that some immigrants actually are dangerous. Terrorists, drug traffickers, gang members, felons, and human traffickers present a threat wherever they are. But it is illegitimate to argue for stricter immigration controls based on those highly specific categories. It is illegitimate, first, because those groups already exist everywhere, whether they come as immigrants or not. (By way of example, the vast major…

(Fairly Universal) Myths About Immigration and Immigrants

Myths, Fallacies, Misconceptions
Whichever term one prefers for its nuances (or lack thereof), myths, fallacies and misconceptions plague discussion of any major policy issue, particularly personal ones. Immigration is an especially personal and therefore emotional topic because it deals directly with human bodies and lives. Even other hotly debated topics such as privacy, health care, and policing are not as immediately personal as immigration because they do not necessarily have an immediate impact on the entirety of a person’s life. Immigration relates directly to who one is, where one is from, what one does, and even what language(s) one speaks.

The difficulty in addressing immigration rights can be observed around the world. The misconceptions that I want to address come up regularly and provoke heated debate in and between the following regions and countries, to name a few of the most prominent. I have tried to indicate in which direction immigration primarily occurs by putting th…

Today in Language: Jean de la Fontaine

The world fabulist of French origins Jean de la Fontaine died on April 13, 1695. His childrens fables have been translated or at least recast in most major cultural and linguistic traditions, which is not to say they did not already come to some extent from a variety of cultural and linguistic traditions.

La Fontaine is known today for his children’s fables, but in his own day he was known for his racier and morally transgressive “adult” fables. La Fontaine was a powerful storyteller, well worthy of his appointment to the Académie Française.

His tomb can be visited in the Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris.


The Game of Life: DACA Edition - SNL