Posted by: bklunk | February 22, 2007

It’s Hydraulics, Really

One could argue that this is similar to many situations where there are unequal conditions on two sides of a border, whether that border is a membrane, a set of campaign finance regulations, or a really expensive fence.  Things will flow from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure, and if one conduit is closed down the flow will find another place to go.  As long as economic conditions are quite different on the two sides of the border, the flow of immigrants will look for some place to go.  So assuming we don’t want to bring the US economy to a state similar to Mexico’s . . .

Will “tougher tactics” solve the problem?

A recent article in the NY Times, “Tougher Tactics Deter Migrants at US Border“, reports that it is becoming more difficult for immigrants to cross the border into the United States because of new barriers and more border patrol. 

“The new measures range from simply putting more officers out on patrol to erecting stadium lights, secondary fences and barriers of thick steel poles to stop smugglers from racing across the desert in all-wheel-drive trucks. The Border Patrol has deployed hundreds of new guards to watch rivers, monitor surveillance cameras and guard fences.”  

Homeland Security officials say that the percent of illegal immigrants caught has dropped 27 percent since last year.  Officials are not sure if it is because of increased border patrol or other factors.  They say that tighter border patrol usually just means people find other routes.  But the Border Patrol say it is definitely due to tighter control of the border.  “The slackening flow, they argue, belies the conventional wisdom that it is impossible to stem illegal migration. Many veteran officers in the force are now beginning to believe it can be controlled with enough resources”.  It seems that this kind of enforcement is going to take alot of man power and alot of money to keep all the above technology and barriers effective.  The Border Patrol believe illegals can be stopped simply by using more resources.  This may be true to a certain extent, but how long can they keep up this kind of enforcement?  Obviously the short term goal is to reduce the amount of illegal migrants crossing the border, but maybe they should start thinking about the long term goals.    

For the first time, migrants caught crossing the border are being sentenced to time in jail, whereas before they were just taken back across the border and let go. 

“Though it seems cruel to many migrants, the zero-tolerance policy appears to be working, Border Patrol commanders say. Along the river the Del Rio sector patrols, arrests are a third of what they were a year ago, only about 35 a day. In the meantime, drug seizures have doubled, as more agents have been freed up to patrol.”

Now jail is becoming a deterrent from crossing the border at this particular point.  Stadium lights, fences, steel poles, surveillance cameras, more guards, and jail?  How far will this issue go before people realize that we need to find a REAL solution to this immigration problem.  Mexico’s goal, which has been pursued for many years, is to achieve some sort of migration reform.  Their means of pursuing this goal is to “aggressively” lobby to the United States.    

“Mexican consulates in the United States will talk with state and federal lawmakers, business chambers, civic organizations and “all actors of U.S. society” who support comprehensive immigration reform, Arturo Sarukhan said.  The ambassador said Mexico has a brief window to convince Washington to approve immigration reforms before campaigning begins for the 2008 U.S. presidential election.” (MSN News)

Although President Bush does support giving Mexicans temporary work visas, he cannot get support from Congress.  Vicente Fox lobbied for immigration reform during his six-year presidency without success.  This is not a good sign for the future.  It seems that Mexico’s goal for immigration reform is going to a be a long process that will not be solved in the near future.  Instead, we are using more resources to tighten the security on the border in hopes of deterring the immigrants, a ”solution” that cannot last forever or ever really solve the problem.   


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  1. I completely agree. Your fantastic analogy of low pressure to high pressure movement takes its roots from biological sciences but can be effortlessly ascribed to Political sciences as well! I tend to agree that throwing money and resources toward border defenses is only a temporary solution and though it may be working in the short term, chewing gum can only plug a leak for so long… my favorite part of this post is the discussion of the situation on both sides of the border and how, in order to staunch the constant flow of people out of Mexico, the conditions must stabilize on both sides. Maybe instead of lining border patrol’s pockets in gold, the U.S. could use the money to improve conditions in poor areas of Mexico along the border. Or perhaps, if border control spending is non-negotiable, maybe it could be coupled with a strong effort to help Mexico expand trade and continue to industrialize and improve conditions for itself. As it stands now, it sounds like we are just trying to make the fence bigger-which is solving our immediate problem of illegal immigration but is also completely ignoring the underlying issue. But I guess that’s what today’s tax payers demand….quick and visible results…even if they’re not actual solutions. Go figure…

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