By Tommy Hough
It was General Patton who said, "Fixed fortifications are monuments to the stupidity of man," but that's not stopping the federal government from spending untold amounts of your money to finish building 670 miles of new and "improved" border fortifications by the end of this year along our border with Mexico.
In doing so, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is announcing it will waive itself from federal environmental laws in order to finish the Great Wall of America – not the first time the Bush administration has excused itself from abiding by the law of the land to pursue an incredibly simplistic, ineffective approach to an otherwise complex problem.
According to the Los Angeles Times, as the wall is built piecemeal across California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, the "waivers will allow Homeland Security" to "slash" through a wide array of environmental and cultural laws in one the most expansive examples of a federal agency ignoring laws you and I are obligated to abide by.
Naturally, the waivers are are already controversial with environmentalists and border communities and border communities that have little political power, which see the advancing wall as a federal imposition that will decimate the environment and disrupt age-old wildlife corridors. Meanwhile, the fence plans are being praised by the usual conservatives who championed the 2006 Secure Fence Act, despite the initial reluctance of President Bush, who has said a broader approach is needed to deal with illegal immigration – one of the very, very few instances I actually agree with the man.
The chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus in the House is, regrettably, San Diego's own Congressman Brian Bilbray, who told the L.A. Times, "It's great. This is the priority area where most of the illegal activity is going on and where most of the deaths are occurring. The quicker we can get the physical fence up, the sooner we'll avoid situations like the deaths of agents. And it's still a national security issue. You just have to stop this kind of open traffic along the border."
I'd like to ask the congressman to tell me when he plans on having a fence built along the 1,969 miles of border between the U.S. and Canada. If national security is truly an issue, sir, we must lock ourselves in on both sides of the continent, and only come out to get the paper, go to the bathroom, and sign for all the stuff we're importing from China in big, unchecked, freight containers. Or we only reacting to racist concerns when it comes to our national security?
Surely you realize, Mr. Bilbray, that other than the Communist Bloc, the last major nation to undergo a wall-building campaign was France. It was called the Maginot Line, and as the French will be happy to tell you, it was a miserable failure. General Patton warned as much 65 years ago. Walls say more about you than what you're trying to keep out. They are not particularly reflective of the spirit of America, sir, and in 1,000 years pieces of this wall will still stand where it is being built now, with the intended purpose of its construction long discredited and deservedly mocked.
I'm opposed to illegal immigration, and I have no problem with the enforcement of our nation's laws. Illegal immigration is, like the term says, illegal. So instead, why don't we spend the money on increased human-to-human border security, and fund additional enforcement by fining those who knowingly hire and exploit illegal immigrants.
This isn't rocket science, its political hysteria, and the answer the administration has come up with is a racist child's solution. We have a long way to go towards growing up, and we need real border and immigration policy reform now.
A San Diego County planning commissioner and former radio host and media personality, Tommy Hough works as an environmental consultant and communications professional, and is a California Democratic Party delegate and the co-founder and former president of San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action.