‘All in all it was just a, brick in the wall.’
— Pink Floyd, 1979.
The internet is filled with pictures of refugees amassing at the U.S-Mexico border in California. But many of them haven’t been able to enter the United States because a physical barrier prevents them from doing this. It is just another example of a barrier, a fence, a wall, a whatever, providing real border security.
Although, erection of a wall on the border was one of President Trump’s prime campaign promises. He has made very little progress toward making that happen. Trump has blown opportunities to win wall funding by refusing to exchange amnesty for recipients of President Obama’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals”, or DACA, policy.
But the President loaded his wall proposal with added on demands, and it never transpired. Even as events on the border are showing the value of a wall and the throngs are tearing down fences etc., politics in Washington is just business as usual, making it impossible to build a wall.
We must understand the problem. In California, the migrants are focusing their efforts on a part of the border where there is an actual barrier. But much of the border’s 1,954 miles remains open. According to the Border Patrol, 354 of those 1,954 miles are protected by what is called pedestrian primary fence, which is a single-layer fence. Another 37 miles are pedestrian secondary fence, that is, double-layer fencing. And 14 miles are pedestrian tertiary, or triple-layer fence.
In addition, 300 miles are covered by vehicle fencing, which will stop a truck but allow anyone to walk through with no problem. We’re talking a fence here, not a wall. That is a total of 705 miles, 405 miles of some kind of pedestrian fencing and 300 miles of vehicle fencing.
Almost no one, says one fence should cover all 1,954 miles of the border. A considerable portion of the border is guarded by terrain that is so imposing and dangerous that it would be extremely difficult for refugees to cross.
Since Republicans could not pass this wall funding when they were in charge of all of Congress and the White House, how can they do it with Pelosi in charge of the House of Representatives?
There is a Public Law 109-367, AKA the Secure Fence Act. This was passed by bipartisan majorities in 2006. It mandated that the federal government was to build a “reinforced fencing”, at least two layers thick, along about 700 miles of the border. It identified areas in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas where the fencing would be installed. Many of the weak parts of the border could now be legally secured. But in the very next year, 2007, after Democrats had won control of the House and Senate, Congress amended the Secure Fence Act. The amendment said and I quote “nothing in (the original legislation) shall require the installation of fencing if the government determines that a fence is not the most appropriate” way to secure the border.
That was the end of 700 miles of fence. Public Law 109-367 still remains on the books and it still mandates a border barrier. What Donald Trump needs is the money to do this and it has to come from Congress. Obviously, the Democrats won’t want to give it to him. But if Trump were to call for the money to build the fence, he would at least have the argument that the Democrats have already voted for it.
Hold on to your hats and batten down the hatches because I have a brilliant (even if I say so myself) yet controversial idea and I expect a lot of blow back on this one. We offer the American public, those most effected by illegal immigrants, the opportunity to purchase bricks in much the same way that charities do for a fund raiser.
We then offer those illegal immigrants that cross the border a choice. They can be deported or go to a temporary work camp supported by this brick money, plus some tax dollars. At the camp they will be assigned to all the necessary jobs like food service, laundry, sanitation and even brickmaking. Every job that needs to be done except security would be provided by the immigrants. They could also be assigned to out of camp work details where they would learn concrete work and/or brick laying by building the wall. The only thing the USA would offer is clean drinking water, food and security. During this time on the camps, they would be provided free room and board, medical care and the chance to apply for citizenship. The United States could also use this time to check the border crossers background so we could identify any possible criminals among them. Those that don’t apply for citizenship or that fail this vetting process would be deported.
It is a win/win for everybody. The immigrants would have the chance to become Americans, learn a trade so they don’t live on welfare and Trump’s wall gets built. The Chinese built a wall to keep out invaders, why can’t we?
Norb Rug resides in Lockport. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .