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Showing posts from May, 2018

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 …

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…