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Wednesday, May 21, 2008 07:16 am

Gaps in the fence

Walling off Mexico won’t stop human ingenuity and determination

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Untitled Document If good fences make good neighbors, what about bad fences? You could ask local officials and residents along the U.S.-Mexico border about that. They hate the monstrous wall that Bush and the Congress have decreed be erected to separate our countries. Not only is the wall a repugnant blemish on their landscape, severing the everyday cross-border flow of life, but the darned thing doesn’t work. The claim of the fence builders is that it will keep workers from the south from crossing into the United States illegally. Local folks know, however, that that’s a bad joke. First of all, Washington’s wall covers only 700 of our 2,000-mile border, and long experience shows that many migrants will simply flow through the gaps. Others are already making gaps of their own. On one completed stretch of the fence near Columbus, N.M., human ingenuity is winning out over bullheaded barricade builders. Border agents report that they started seeing cuts in the towering wall “almost immediately” after it was constructed. Using everything from simple hacksaws to plasma torches that can slice quickly through steel, immigrants have found their way through. At least one group has bungee-jumped into the country! Also, the fence itself is creating convenient gaps, for the heavy structure is settling into the unstable ground. As it settles, the parts split — so much so that agents say determined migrants can push themselves through. Meanwhile, this multibillion-dollar monument to political stupidity does nothing to deter the 40 percent of immigrants who make a legal visit to the United States for business, vacation, or other purposes, then don’t go home. Walling off Mexico might make some politicians feel good, but it’s not going to stop human ingenuity and determination.

Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, columnist, and author.
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