They Say Fences and Walls Don’t Work?


By: Warner Todd Huston

Anyone paying even scant attention to the debates about border fences or security walls has seen the constant nay saying of their efficacy by opponents. It seems that most in the media maintain that border fences or walls do not work. It is also a favorite rallying cry from the anti-security and pro-illegal alien forces on the American left not to mention those who have a penchant for attacking anything the Israelis do.

Fences don’t work. We hear it with just about every story.

A few weeks ago the San Francisco Chronicle went so far as to say that the current border fence in California has increased illegal immigrants there. “Even more unexpectedly, the border fence increased the numbers of illegal immigrants in the United States. That’s because in the past immigrants from Mexico and Central America could easily return to their home countries, either permanently or to visit family members. The new barriers on the border meant that once they arrived in the United States they were more likely to stay here permanently — and bring their family members to live with them.”

The Arizona Daily Star claims that a wall won’t work to keep illegal Mexicans out, saying that “As long as jobs here are plentiful and lucrative, even a solid wall won’t keep illegal entrants from crossing over.”

Doug MacEachern of the Arizona Republic is sure a wall on the US/Mexico border hurts us worse than it hurts them.

“But the essential question isn’t its impact on potential illegal immigrants, inconsequential as I suspect that impact would be. It’s about the effect of a wall on those of us already here. And I cannot imagine that effect as anything other than crushing. It will become The Symbol of every foolish isolationist’s dream. There will be no more discussion about the value of legal immigration or the importance of doing the truly hard work of securing the border. It will be all about the Wall, whether it serves its intended purpose or not.”

Similarly, in Israel The Council On Foreign Relations is sure the wall between Israel and the Palestinian areas won’t work because, “…fences are better at stopping trade than terror.”

Ariel Natan Pasko, a writer for several websites on matter Jewish is also sure that the wall won’t work in Israel. “Disengagement is a suicide plan”, he said a few years ago. “Sharon should have learned from the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the debacle called the ‘Bar-Lev Line,’ that passive defense with walls, fences, sensors, lasers, won’t work.”

Even former Secretary of State Colin Powell got into the act claiming that the wall in Israel won’t work. Powell said, “The Berlin Wall did not work perfectly and the wall that the Israelis are putting up is not going to work perfectly. So, a wall alone is not the answer.”

Naturally, I could give thousands of examples of this assumption that fences don’t work. And, ridiculously enough and using Powell as an example, every argument against a fence is posited as if those for the fence were claiming that a fence will be 100% foolproof and will “work perfectly” — a claim I have never once seen a pro-fence advocate make.

But, it is interesting where we see the anti-fence argument being made and from whom. Anti-Jewish or anti-Republican attackers seem to be the only ones who claim fences don’t work. It seems that the anti-fence argument is used solely as a weapon against the Israelis and the Republicans.

The AP recently had an interesting little story about the fence Saudi Arabia is going to build on their border with Iraq. And this fence seems the perfect mirror of what Congressional Republicans are proposing for our own, southern border.

The Middle East Economic Digest, a regional news magazine, reported this month that it would contain a double-lined fence with 135 electronically controlled gates, fence-mounted ultraviolet intruder detection sensors, buried radio detection sensors and concertina razor wire along the entire, mostly desert frontier.

The story I linked is from a CNN website and it contains not a word from any anti-fence complainers. Not a discussion from any Arab dissenters on how such a fence “won’t work”, not a peep from American leftists or “human rights” groups protesting its planning.

In fact, the only link on the CNN website away from this story to another story that might be connected somehow to it isn’t a story that discusses the Saudi intentions at all but a video link to one about the supposed “failures” of the American efforts in Iraq.

Not only does this story discuss the Saudis thoughts on how a fence will help keep out Iraqi dissidents and terrorists, but this gem is also snugly inserted into the story:

The United Arab Emirates is building a similar wall along its border with Oman — mainly to keep out illegal migrants.

So, both the Saudis and the UAE have or are building fences for their security, both for safety and to keep out illegals!

And not a word from the anti-fence crowd crowing about how a fence “won’t work”.

Interesting is it not? Interesting in that it might appear that the anti-fence crowd really is not against a fence per se, but merely against anything their opponents propose. And simply being “against” is not sufficient enough reason to oppose a fence, is it?

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