17 January 2019

Here's an interesting aspect of a border wall with Mexico


I was flipping past TV channels the other day and heard a new observation about "the wall."  I don't know whether it was part of a pro-wall or anti-wall comment, and I don't know who was speaking, but the gist was something I had not heard before.

If a wall is built along the length of the U.S./Mexico border, the easternmost part will have to contend with the presence of the Rio Grande river.  For practical reasons, the wall cannot be built in the river - it has to be on the shore, and on the American side.

This means that if anyone crosses the river (easy to do - you can wade across at certain places in certain seasons) they would be standing on United States soil and could ask for asylum.  They wouldn't need to cross the wall.

An interesting observation.  I'll leave the Comments section open for a while, as long as discussion remains civil.

Addendum:  The basic principles mentioned above have now been fully elaborated, with photos, in this Washington Post article.

Addendum #2:  A Los Angeles Times article elucidates Five Misconceptions About The Border Wall.


BTW and unrelated: "In the 1640's the Dutch inhabitants of New Amsterdam built a 12' wall to keep the bad hombres out. In 1664 the British ignored the wall and took New Amsterdam by sea. It's now called New York."

Image annotated from the original here.

28 comments:

  1. We took a drive along the border from Presidio to Lajitas just before Thanksgiving this year. It's beautiful and, politics aside, will be ruined by a wall. See it while you can.

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  2. I am not a proponent of a wall, rather ambivalent about the whole thing, to be honest. However, I am also not a proponent of the idea that the solution to every problem (real or perceived) must be 100% perfectly foolproof or we dare not try it. As I come to the end of a long career in public education, I have encountered this argument far too many times. The usual result is that nothing is done, because no solution works all of the time, every time, forever.

    Just my 2 cents worth...

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  3. Seriously, how hard is it to protect a 1'900 miles border? The Berlin Wall was 69.5 miles. take it 27x over and done. Wall of China (20k miles) was up to ten times as large. This is a symbolic non issue, even if there isn't a clear right or wrong.
    Israeli West Bank barrier is about a one-forth of that, largely built and about 440 mi long. A river is a natural barrier, that doesn't need walling off, like a moat. It's not that easy to cross even using pool noodles.

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    1. My father used to live in a Rio Grande border town. I can assure you that the river is easy to cross, especially when rainfall has been low in the region. In I think 2001 the river even stopped short of the Gulf of Mexico - completely dried up. Search Google for "shallow Rio Grande" and you can find pix like these -

      https://riogrande.texastribune.org/blog/2014/12/9/

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    2. See also the photos at this New York Times article showing areas where a child can wade across the river -

      https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/05/24/climate/dry-rio-grande.html

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  4. PART 1. While I can understand an infant having automatic citizenship based on being born to American parents, I can think of no good reason to extend citizenship based on some unlimited policy of just happening to be born on American soil. Yes, if someone happens to be vacationing in America and has a child, that's one thing. But for someone to ILLEGALLY cross into the United States just to have their baby on American soil, thereby gaining the advantages of citizenship illegally, that seems like something we very much need to rethink.

    I know, Minnesotastan, that you are not a fan of Trump (to put it mildly--ha!), but I would like to point out that the matter is not about being anti-immigrant. Not at all--and anyone who says otherwise, it playing games. No, the matter is about being anti-ILLEGAL immigrant. There is a world of difference!

    It seems to me that it may very well be the case that the reason illegals do not try to come into the country legally is because they know that there is some part of the vetting process, etc., that would disqualify them. Maybe they have a criminal record? Maybe they are wanted in some Mexican or Central American city? Maybe they didn't pay their taxes, etc. Who know? But it may be that they are aware that if they try to go through the legal process, their name or face will be pinged...and so they avoid the legal route.

    We all understand and respect that there are people who want to come to America for no better reason (which is actually and incredibly good reason!) than to make a better life for them and their families. No one can fault that, especially when our ancestors came for the same reason (this is presumably true of Native Americans, as well, whose ancestors came across Beringia to seek something better than where they had been (if not, then why go?).

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    1. But for someone to ILLEGALLY cross into the United States just to have their baby on American soil, thereby gaining the advantages of citizenship illegally, that seems like something we very much need to rethink.

      You do not understand your constitution. The amendment and following jurisprudence are quite clear that it does not matter what the immigration status of the parents is. Part of the purpose of the amendment was to create clarity on the citizenship of the children of people difficult immigration status. Remember that the US has a long history of very racist immigration policies. Birth-right citizenship is a solution to the problem of children of parents of difficult immigration status. You can look up the Congressional records on it. [Or you find the podcast "What Trump can teach us about ConLaw and find the relevant episode]

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  5. Part 2. Alas, though, while we are a wealthy country, and while our agricultural needs are greatly improved via the use of migrant workers (most of whom are not native-born Americans--or perhaps not Americans at all), it is the sad truth that, using the lifeboat analogy, the first one's on the lifeboat may have to eventually tell someone in the water that, although they and other were able to get aboard, they can take no more passengers on. Thus, to say to Americans, "Hey, your ancestors got to come to America--why can't we?" is to fall into the fallacy of thinking that there is no such thing as diminishing returns or having too many people in a lifeboat.

    Now, the BEST answer to such issues would be to ensure that our south-of-the-board brothers and sisters live in countries that have great opportunities, a solid civil rights record, and the such. But that is something that not only may never happen, but, barring a miracle, will take GENERATIONS to accomplish. (Consider that Haiti, "free" since the early 1800s, remains the poorest--or nearly the poorest--country in the western hemisphere--despite millions in aid, etc. I can't explain it, but the results let us know that it takes more than money.)

    Consider that if we had neighbors knock on our door, needing a place to stay, most of us would likely help. But if they come in illegally, and if they come to stay with no end in sight, that's a different matter.

    NOW, ABOUT THAT WALL....

    We know that if prisons can be escaped, then walls can be breached, tunneled under, floated across, etc. But the key is that a wall will dissuade many people from even trying. I work in a prison. I know that if I were a prisoner, just trying to escape could not only get my 5-year sentence turned into a death penalty (by being shot as I tried to escape), but could lengthen my sentence, could wind up, at best, getting injured, and, even if I escaped, I would have to live and sleep with one eye looking behind me (one elderly man in the prison escaped many years ago...after 26 years of living clean, he was recaptured...and is in prison today). The point is, as another person pointed out, a deterrent doesn't have to be perfect to deter people. Some people will not be deterred...others will easily be deterred.

    If we place a wall in certain key areas, as well as boost the technological monitoring of more remote areas, we can likely deter enough people to make a difference. Take away the whole "born on American soil" thing, and it works even bigger. Make it so that an immigrant cannot vote until they have been a citizen for 18 years (which our children have to do), and you probably take away any political incentives to NOT have a wall.

    There are likely not good answers--not until Jesus gets back, anyway. But it seems that removing the whole "born of soil" matter, along with building the wall in the right places (making it too onerous for many to attempt any other entry), and, while we might not stop everyone, we just might stop the wrong ones--or at least enough to matter.

    I know you see it differently, my friends. I hope we can always talk about such matter in good spirits and good faith. God bless.

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    1. Thank you, Aaron, for your thoughtful comments. You are quite correct that I am "not a fan" of Trump. Regarding the wall, I hope I have made it clear in previous posts or comments that I am not opposed to limiting immigration; what I am opposed to is the expenditure of $5,000,000,000 taxpayer dollars on the building of a wall along the border.

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    2. You can't explain why Haiti is such a poor country- well, here's a "brief history" as to... exactly why:

      https://www.theroot.com/as-haiti-burns-never-forget-white-people-did-that-1827454590

      Go to practically any country south of the border, research the involvement of the US government/military throughout their history (including monopolies and corporations) and you'll discover how the US has repeatedly sucked dry their natural resources while indebting them for perpetuity. Read Confessions of An Economic Hit Man by John Perkins, and if all that is way too "radical Lib" for ya, at least read what US Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler had to say on the matter...

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  6. There are places around Brownsville where a wall exists and it has caused problems for Americans. It is well within the US (due to the river and other engineering concerns), and some Texans have to go through a port of entry to go home! There's even an American golf course south of the wall (but north of the border).

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  7. Given that the border wall is a political football opposed by politicos who once supported it and now don't because they don't like our current POTUS, check this out:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Territorial_waters

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  8. There is a fundamental contradiction (or rather a political incongruity) between opposing the injustice of national debt, which necessitates GDP growth to afford paying interest and pro-immigration which allows for the state debt spiral to continue by increasing GDP.

    Many stagnating western countries look to bolster their economy through immigration, possibly because they answer to the bosses of industry rather than the people. Right-wing Socialism (breaks this contradiction under different names) and has returned to European democracies in double digit percentages, even if it is decried and denigrated for obvious historical reasons.

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  9. "...they answer to the bosses of industry rather than the people." You don't specify, but it would seem to me the U.S. fits in this category. ??

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    1. Socialism does not imply being left, unless you want to extend solidarity across national borders.

      In the US neither party serves the 90%, which is why US political issues are symbolic and elections are about personalities rather than politics. Corporate interests don't always line up either (i.e. long term growth vs. short term profit).

      Regardless of how they you vote in a two party system, people vote against their interest in some way, ALWAYS. It's not just the evangelicals, who vote against theirs.

      A two party system isn't inherently worse. But it doesn't need/ shouldn't have ideological alignment (like socialism), because it can't possibly credibly represent a majority, both parties need flexible and pragmatic solutions to actual issues rather than ideological ones. This is a good thing because all ideology is BS!

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  10. Waiting on a post here about impact of the wall on butterflies.

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    1. https://archpaper.com/2018/12/national-butterfly-center-fight-border-wall-construction/

      https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/trump-border-wall-mexico-national-butterfly-centre-rio-grande-conservation-extinction-rare-species-a8676326.html

      https://www.expressnews.com/news/local/article/Bulldozers-to-soon-plow-through-National-13447399.php

      https://www.nationalbutterflycenter.org/about-nbc/maps-directions/9-national-butterfly-center/258-border-wall-information

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  11. Immigration should be controlled far more aggressively at the employment end. When it becomes a serious crime (jail time) to employ workers who are not legally allowed to work in the US, the motive for illegal immigrating will be largely removed. Also, our immigration policy is now encouraging skilled people and professionals to come the US. This is backwards; we should be allowing the most desperate people, especially people from nations we've violated (through draconian foreign interventions), to immigrate. How many? This number should be determined on the basis of social welfare measurements of our own population. With masses of people suffering due to gross wealth inequality and the consequent deprivation (especially in the inner city and the poorest parts of rural America), it makes no sense to allow immigration of surplus workers, driving down the value of labor. We need to get our house in order. Half of our two million prisoners should be out of prison and looking for jobs. Unemployment rates in the inner city are astronomical. Half of America's rural population is living in poverty (here defined as having no assets). We need to address these problems first, while allowing only the LEGAL immigration of asylum seekers--and I'll leave the definition of "asylum" for another time.

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  12. PS: The wall idea is damn dumb.

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  13. On the subject of Nieuw Amsterdam becoming New York, that had not much to do with the Wall (on Wall St) - even though the Brits did take Nieuw Amsterdam.

    In the end, it was the treaty of (my hometown) Breda that made Nieuw Amsterdam New York. The treaty was signed years after a cease fire was called between the colonial parties stopping all the snatching of all the (is)land between each other. In the end, the conclusion was not a complicated geopolitical deal that one might imagine. It was much more: "Well, let's just leave things as they are now, this cease-fire is working pretty well for everyone".

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Breda_(1667)

    On the wall on the border: I am surprised that no one on the US press is not noticing that the sea that is the border between Europe and Africa is not able to stop tens if not hundreds of thousands of migrants. So the belief that a tiny little wall could stop people while a sea can not is a direct result of the narrow-minded lack of foreign news that most Americans have.

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    1. "I am surprised that no one on the US press is not noticing"

      This statement doesn't not make my brain hurt...

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  14. I am late to the party but...

    I can stop illegal immigration easily. No wall necessary. We need a law where there is mandatory jail time for employing illegal aliens. Jail time for CEOs, board members and the people doing the actual hiring (HR?), farmers, roofers, concrete workers, etc. You can bet things will change in a hurry if we start locking up the people who are actually creating the problem because make no mistake, the reason people come here for jobs is because the jobs are here. There will be a legal path for immigrants to work in the US in no time if we start locking up the right people.

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    1. Jail time for CEOs, board members, HR people? I would posit that the vast majority of illegal immigrants who are employed in this country are hired by small businesses, roofing companies, construction companies, renovation companies, restaurants, smallish farms, etc. Companies w/o a union. Go ahead and put these people in jail. Thousands of legal immigrants and actual citizens will be out of work along with the illegals you want to get rid of.

      There are issues with our our immigration system. Always have been. I am a citizen here because my grandfather managed to get out of Europe 6 months after WW I ended. He got in because a friend of his family in Switzerland certified him as a skilled machinist. At that time. he did not know the difference between a micrometer and a microscope. In other words, he was an illegal immigrant. My grandfather raised 3 children, 2 of them served in WW II, one died in Korea. His daughter, my mother, had 3 children. 1 served in SE Asia (me), 1 developed the computer system that keeps the PA Turnpike running.

      Too many people in this country start life on second base, and they thing they hit a double. Fate allowed you to be a citizen here.

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  15. The 14th Amendment, granting birthright citizenship, was passed in 1868 to assure that freed slaves would be American Citizens. It should have been sunset circa 1975.

    The real (American) victims of illegal immigration are poor unskilled workers. The idea that illegal immigrants are coming here for jobs Americans won't do should be rephrased as Illegal immigrants are coming here to do jobs that the middle class wants done (wash dishes, clean toilets, slaughter cows, pick strawberries) but which the middle class doesn't want to pay poor Americans $50 an hour to do - because, after all, then they wouldn't be poor and we'd have to clean our own damn toilets. As Voltaire said, "The comforts of the rich are dependent on a ready supply of the poor."

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  16. I have no clue why if a wall is immoral as Nancy Pelosi claims, why she and the Democrat party aren't advocating removing the wall? Where is the Democratic House bill that removes this immoral structure on our borders?

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  17. I heard that Mexico still isn't willing to pay for the wall, but they are thinking about throwing is some money for doors.

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  18. the "wall" is a living testament to the choas that is the countries south of us... like it or not if the countries south of us were of any value the people would not leave

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