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  • Fences and Neighbors

    When the grass really is greener on the other side, it’s natural for people to want to cross the border. This is the crux of the illegal immigration debate raging in the United States. Mexican nationals desiring greater prosperity go to tremendous lengths to cross the border into a country that promises more opportunity. The Index of Economic Freedom confirms that the U.S., with a score of 78, is economically freer than Mexico, which scores 68.8. The grass is definitely greener in the United States.

    Many have suggested building a fence on the Mexican-American border to keep illegal immigrants out. Yet other countries have built fences on their borders to keep their people in. Under the control of the Soviet Union, East Germany built the Berlin Wall to prevent its citizens from escaping to the more prosperous West Germany. Still, East Germans desperately tried to escape, even using homemade flying machines to cross the border. Had The Heritage Foundation measured economic freedom in 1988, West Germany would undoubtedly have had a much higher score than their neighbor to the east.

    Today, North and South Korea share both a name and a peninsula, but no one can argue that North Koreans are better off than their southern counterparts. North Korea has a pitiful economic freedom score of 1.0 while South Korea scores 69.9 on the Index. It’s no wonder that the Demilitarized Zone exists. Good fences may make good neighbors, but to those living in a repressed society, the main goal of border fences seem to be to keep citizens from seeing what’s on the other side.

    Renee Pirrong is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to Fences and Neighbors

    1. Ace Sez Bishop, Cali says:

      Chinese labor (maybe slaves?) built a 3,000 mile long wall to keep out the invading hordes from the north centuries ago—and our gov't sez we can't build a fence between the USA and Mexico–can't physically be done?

      We could build a Great Wall like China's with our mondern machinery and tecnology–if we'd just stop payin' blackmail (Foreign Aid) to countries all arould the world that hate us and wish us evil.

      Something else to consider when voting in the Nov 2010 election

    2. Jacee, Utah, USA says:

      "…but no one can argue that North Koreans are better off than their southern counterparts."

      Don't you mean it the other way around: "South Koreans are better off than their northern counterparts", especially since your next statement ranks North Korea as way below South Korea in their economic freedom score?

    3. Stev, NC says:

      Fences Work

      Fences work, they just have to be engineered and properly constructed. Consider the 14-mile double-layer fence between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico. Its benefits in stopping illegal entry into the U.S. were immediate and long lasting. Prior to the fence, illegals poured through the border here and in one 24-hour period the border patrol reported apprehending 2,000 illegal aliens. According to a 2005 Congressional Research Service report illegal alien apprehensions along the fence region dropped from 202,000 in 1992 to 9,000 in 2004, a reduction greater than 95%. Additionally, there was a 53% drop in San Diego’s crime rate, as reported by Congressman Duncan Hunter. The open borders lobby ignores these facts when they say fences will not work.

      So, fences won’t work? Let’s take an around the world tour and see if anything else with fences is going on.

      North Korea/South Korea: Called "the scariest place on earth" by President Bill Clinton, this 155-mile-long, 2.5 mile wide demilitarized zone has separated the two Koreas since 1953 and is the most heavily fortified border in the world.

      North Korea/China: It was confirmed in 2006 that China was in the midst of fence construction on its border with North Korea. Long amicable allies, China had become concerned with the large illegal influx of North Koreans into its territory over the previously lightly guarded border. The project is spearheaded by China’s military in order to establish security.

      Belfast, Northern Ireland: Nicknamed the "Peace Line," this series of brick, iron, and steel barriers was first erected in the 1970s to curb escalating violence between Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods. The barriers have more than doubled in number over the past decade, and currently stretch over thirteen miles of Northern Ireland.

      Cyprus: A 112-mile-long construction of concrete, barbed wire, watchtowers, minefields, and ditches has separated the island's Turks from its Greeks since 1974. The Turkish Cypriot government reduced restrictions on cross-border travel in April of 2003.

      Morocco/Western Sahara: Known as "The Wall of Shame," these ten-foot-high sand and stone barriers, some mined, run for at least 1,500 miles through the Western Sahara. Built in six stages from 1980 to 1987, they are intended to keep West Saharan guerrilla fighters out of Morocco.

      Israel/Palestine: The Israeli government, observing how effective the security fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip has been at keeping out suicide bombers, decided in 2003 to start fencing off the West Bank as well because after scores of suicide bombings and daily terrorist attacks against its civilians that had killed more than 850 people and wounded thousands more since September 2000. The 490-mile anti-terrorist barrier has proven a huge success even before it was finished as statistics two years into the project indicated attacks had declined by as much as 90 percent and the number of Israelis murdered and wounded has decreased by more than 70% and 85%, respectively.

      The fence should be fully completed by 2010. Note: Hamas militants in Jan. 2008 blew up a 200 meter portion of the Gaza strip fence which enabled thousands of Palestinians to pour into Egypt before order was restored.

      India/Bangladesh: India started construction in 2000 of a 2500 mile fence based on the design of the Israeli West Bank barrier. Its purpose is to stop smuggling, terrorist infiltrations and illegal immigration from Bangladesh. To date, approximately 1550 miles have been built. Wikipedia reports the U.S. has pumped $1.2 billion into the project.

      India/Pakistan: In 1989 India began erecting a fence to stem the flow of arms from Pakistan. So far it has installed more than 700 miles of fencing, much of which is electrified and stands in the disputed Kashmir region. The anti-terrorist barriers will eventually run the entire 1,800-mile border with Pakistan.

      India/ Myanmar (Burma): A separation barrier that India started constructing in 2003 to seal off its 975-mile border with Myanmar. The stated purpose is to curtail cross border crime, smuggling, drug trafficking, insurgency and illegal immigration.

      Pakistan/Afghanistan: Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, citing India’s success with its fence on the Pakistan border announced in Sept. 2005, his intention to build a 1,500 mile fence and mine the border with Afghanistan. This is thought to be more likely political posturing and without a massive influx of U.S. dollars will never come to fruition. The political and tribal hurdles would likely doom any serious intention.

      Kuwait/Iraq: The 120-mile demilitarized zone along this border has been manned by UN soldiers and observers since the Gulf War ended, in 1991. Made of electric fencing and wire, and supplemented by fifteen-foot-wide trenches, the barrier extends from Saudi Arabia to the Persian Gulf. Kuwait has since install an additional 135-mile iron partition.

      United Arab Emirates/Oman: Starting in 2005, the UAE has been erecting a barrier fence along its border with Oman to prevent the flow of drugs, terrorists and illegal immigrants.

      Russia/ Chechnya: Noting Israel’s success with it’s West Bank barrier Russia has declared it’s intention to seriously consider constructing a fence on its Chechnya border in order to combat Muslim terrorism.

      Uzbek/Afghanistan: A barrier coursing the entire 130 mile border consisting of two fences, one barbed wire and the second a taller 380-volt electrified fence with land mines and patrolled by armed Uzbek soldiers.

      Malaysia/Thailand: In 2001, the two countries jointly agreed to construct a fence along their 400 mile border to reduce smuggling and stop the infiltration of Malaysian Muslim extremist groups that led to the South Thailand Insurgency, a separatist campaign in Thailand’s three southernmost provinces. The actual progress on this fence is unknown at this time.

      Brunei/Malaysia: In 2005, Brunei built a security fence along its 20-kilometer border with Limbang, Malaysia in order to control illegal immigration and smuggling.

      United States/Mexico: In the mid-1990s President Clinton initiated two programs; Operation Gatekeeper and Operation Hold the Line, to crack down on illegal immigration from Mexico. They produced a system of high-tech barriers, including a fourteen-mile fence separating San Diego from Tijuana. By 2005, security barriers stretched along at least seventy miles of the border. Recognizing the success of the San Diego corridor barrier, Congress passed the Secure Fence Act of 2006 mandating the construction of 700 miles of border fence along the Mexico border including “two layers of reinforced fencing” and listed five specific sections of border where it should be installed. Just before Christmas 2007, Congress passed an Omnibus spending bill that removed the two-tier requirement and the list of locations specified. Also, an additional kicker was slipped into the bill, the Hutchinson Amendment which allowed the secretary of DHS to not build the fence anywhere he deemed it “not appropriate”. So how this all shakes out for the border fence construction that is plodding along on our southern border and it’s ultimate success remains to be seen.

      Botswana/Zimbabwe: The government of Botswana claims to have started building a ten-foot-high electric fence along its border with Zimbabwe to control the spread of foot-and-mouth disease. However, most Zimbabweans believe that the fence — begun in 2003 and intended to stretch up to 300 miles — really aims to stanch the immigration flow from troubled Zimbabwe into calmer Botswana.

      Saudi Arabia/Yemen: In 2003 Saudi Arabia began building a ten-foot-high barrier along its border with Yemen to prevent terrorist infiltration. Heeding Yemeni protests that the fence violated a border treaty, the Saudi government vowed to complete the project in cooperation with Yemen. A February 2007 report in the Arab Times indicates the Saudi’s remain committed to fully fencing its border with Yemen.

      Saudi Arabia/Iraq: In 2006, the Saudi’s put out calls for bid on a 900 kilometer fence running the distance of its border with Iraq. It is reported this is part of a larger package of fence building to secure all of Saudi Arabia's 6,500 kilometers of border.

      Ceruta/Morroco and Melilla/Morocco : A border fence built by Spain with EU funding between Morocco and the Spanish city’s of Ceruta and Melilla on the north Moroccan coast to stop illegal immigration and smuggling.

      Egypt/Gaza: The United States announced in March 2008 that it is giving Egypt $23 million and technical assistance to help Egypt build a border fence along the Gaza-Egypt border to eliminate smuggling and entry of Palestinian militants. The dichotomy here is obvious as the U.S. is set to help Egypt secure its border yet sabotages and drags it feet in securing our own border with Mexico.

      All of the fences detailed that have been built are successful, some to more degrees than others, but successful nonetheless. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that fences won’t work because they do. If fences didn’t work, governments all over the world would not be investing in them. Critics of the U.S. border fence like to portray it as an evil Berlin Wall type barrier, which could not be further from the truth. Our border fence does not keep people in and reduce their freedom, it keeps illegal immigrants and terrorists out thereby securing freedom and security on both sides of the border. It also separates people of two distinct nations unlike the Berlin Wall, which separated two of the same people, Germans from Germans. If there were not the propensity of Mexican nationals and OTM’s (Other Than Mexicans) to illegally cross our border at will and help themselves to whatever they found to their liking in our country while encouraged and abetted by the Mexican and other foreign governments, the border fence would be unnecessary. Since the mass illegal crossings won’t cease anytime soon, perhaps never, the fence becomes a necessity.

      If you don’t wish to overload the naysayers negative mindset and illogical open borders philosophers with all the facts above, then just give them this quote from poet Robert Frost (and supported by a study co-authored in 2007 by the New England Complex Systems Institute and Brandeis University)…”Good fences make good neighbors”. Or, if you’d just like to be a bit snarky ask them this, “If fences don’t work why is there one around the White House?”

      Note: information on some of the fences was gleaned from an article by Abigail Cutler that appeared in Atlantic Monthly in 2005.

    4. Jimmy L. Konogeris, says:

      We can study indexes until we're blue in the face. Quite frankly they don't shed any light on any unknown facts. World history is a documentation of illegal immgration and its results. Further substaniation can be found by studying the "Twelve Tribes of Israel".

      The illegal Mexican, Salvadorian, Guatemalan and Honduran generally DO NOT want US citizenship. Americans are very vain when assuming everyone wants to be a US citizen. The Mexicans and other nationalities want to remain citizens of their home countries while obtaining the benefits offered by the United States such as employment, medical care, instate tuition, government susidized housing and free educatin for their offspring. Their loyalty usually remains at home. They want benefits earned and subsidized by middle class Americans. But, having said this, they are not our enemy, the Mexican government is and has been since the departure of the last Spanish Viceroy. Since 1848 Mexico, has recented the United States. During World War I Mexico allowed German Spies to operate freely in Mexico to spy on the US. During World War II allowed the Axis powers to spy upon the US from Mexico. During the Cold War Mexico allowed spies hostile to the United States to operate freely. The attack on the Twin Towers in 2001 was cheered and applauded all across Mexico. Today Mexican text books teach that the US stole California, Arizona, New Mexico and texas.

    5. Drew Page, IL says:

      When parking your car in a "bad" neighborhood, where would you choose to park, in a fenced in lot, or one that had no fence, all other things being equal?

    6. Anne, Long Island, N says:

      A double-layer fence should be constructed on both the north and south border of the US. This would eliminate terrorists entering from Canada and/or Mexico. This should end the cries of racism. Also, there MUST be an end to dual citizenship. A person can be loyal to ONLY one country.

    7. Carol,AZ says:

      FENCE?…..please electrify it..

      …also utilize claymore mines …Albeit, here in AZ we will be very politically correct.

      Warning in the language of all 128 countries how reported entering az's broken borders, saying DANGER..

      THE cartels have taken over portions of our state and Homeland Security has told us to place signs stating:


      Do you really think in your lile time YOU will just hear press # 2 for spanish ?

      Think again. Also, think again when you vote in November.

      Regardless of what you think you might know there, you must understand that a fence is just a small part of what we need here.

      We need BOOTS on the gorund a year ago, at least 3000,.

      D.C is punishing AZ for enforcing the law.

      THank about that where you are. Also ask,

      " what would you do?,"

      If you had a full blown NARCO War of terror in your backyard ?

      I forgot to also mention that POTUS cancelled the fence fund here to further teach us a lesson for enforcing the laws…

      He's planning on allowing illegals living here to vote in NOVember, you can bet the ranch on that!

    8. bob says:

      we should hire israeli companies, tell them hamas is south of us, let them build 30 foot tall 2 feet thick concrete border wall (like in isreal and the west bank) then pay THEM to guard it. you would never see anyone attempting to sneek in the us ever again.

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