Posted by: bklunk | March 8, 2007

As I was Saying to King Canute

The lines on maps suggest a reality to borders that may not square with the facts.

Breaking the Barrier « International Studies

In an article in the New York Times, “Cities Mesh Across Blurry Border, Despite Physical Barrier, ” the reporter explains how Mexican authorities recently complained that U.S. construction workers building the barrier between the two countries had crossed thirty three feet into Mexico. According to the author, this incident shows how the border, whether it is marked by a metal wall or not, is not clearly defined. No matter what is constructed to mark the separation between Mexico and the United States, the cross-border connections make the actual border line blurry. On one side is Tiujana and on the other side is San Diego. These two cities are connected economically, environmentally, and culturally. People who live in San Diego cross the border to work in Tiujana or vis-a-versa. Environmental pollution travels by air and water between these two cities. There may be a metal wall and border patrol, but that does now stop the flow of people and pollution. It seems from the interconnectedness of Tiujana and San Diego that the border means very little. It still stops many Mexicans from entering the United States, but interaction is still present and people still figure out ways to break the barrier.

If this example were applied to the state level, we would also see that the border means very little for trade and commerce between the United States and Mexico. Trade goods, technology, and communication pass easily from one country to another with little regard to the metal barrier and the border patrol’s guns. Foreign policy in both the United States and Mexico embraces the idea of free trade which was initiated by the creation of NAFTA. Both know they will be better off with trade, it is a good thing. But when it comes to the movement of people between the two countries, things are not as easy. The United States considers the movement of Mexicans across the border to be a bad thing, but unlike the movement of goods and money, they will not come up with an agreement with Mexico. A metal wall may exist between Tijuana and San Diego, but it will not keep the people of the cities from interacting with eachother. It seems that wall or no wall, both cultures will come into contact no matter what.

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Responses

  1. The recently elected President of Mexico, Felipe Calderón, has advocated laissez faire policies. In an interview with TIME in the fall of 2006, Calderón also expressed his desire to “create more competitive market conditions. In globalizing the Mexican economy, Calderón has ignited mass immigration, propelling U.S. policy makers to enact repressive policies seeking to regulate immigration. It may be best serve both the U.S. to recognize Mexico’s efforts to globalize the economy by proving temporary worker visas.
    Douglass Massey, a professor at Princeton University wrote in Great Decisions 2007 “…Places that are linked to one another by flows of goods, capital, commodity and information are also linked by flows of people in a process called ‘globalization.’” He also states that globalization in developing regions “disrupt existing social and economic arrangements and displaces people from customary livelihoods.” Massey’s theories regarding globalization seem to hold true for relations between the U.S. and Mexico.
    For 60 years, the two countries have held uninterrupted migration. However, globalization in Mexico has contributed to the increase in the number of immigrants seeking to improve their economic situation in the midst of tumultuous economic changes. Rather than trying to repress the inevitable effects of globalization on international relations, it is best for the U.S. to negotiate with Mexico through legislation such as the temporary work visa, which has many positive benefits for the U.S. and Mexico.
    Globalization encompasses trends such as the expansion of international trade, telecommunication, technical and scientific cooperation, cultural exchanges, and leads to interconnections to poor and rich countries. It is necessary to recognize both the advantages and disadvantages of these aspects, and in the case of U.S. and Mexico, compromise in order to resolve the problems and multiply the gains of immigration between the two countries.

  2. I understanding the point being made here, but I see a different side to this situation as well. While I do agree that work visas are a great idea and should be a part of dealing with the immigration issue between the U.S. and Mexico, I can see the practicality behind the wall construction that is underway at the border. Commerce may continue to still flow between the two cities, but the point of the wall is not to stop the commerce, it is to stop the illegal immigration. I understand the fact that a wall cannot stop pollution overhead, or business and economic transactions between the cities, however, a strictly defined border, does make sense. If there was a wall, then the only open passage between the two countries would be through policed sections of highway, and that could systematically stop hundreds of immigrants from passing through un-policed borders. Given, they still may find ways to enter into the U.S., this would still create a major roadblock for them.

  3. I am empathetic and understanding to the fact that Mexico and the United States are culturally, economically, and politically linked, especially in cities such as San Diego and Tijuana. However, I do not think that that is the true point behind the wall, to stop a cultural and economic flow between the United States and Mexico; the wall is there to deter illegal immigration. Obviously, the United States is aware of the fact that Mexicans and other illegal immigrants will continue to cross the border, however the wall is more symbolic than anything, symbolic of our strength and determination to secure our nations borders. It would be a mistake for the United States to just allow free passage into the United States. The United States finally implements something to deter and discourage immigration, and this is better than nothing. We criticize countries like Iraq and Syria for not securing their border, when in reality we need to confront and solve that issue at home. Sure the majority of people crossing into the United States via Mexico are hard-working, good people but maybe every one in a thousand is a drug trafficker or maybe even a terrorist. Thus, it is necessary to secure our borders, and if a wall helps than so be it.

  4. Looking at this issue from a more social perspective only complicates the issue more, but it is at least worth a mention… There are many people who live in border cities that could easily tell you that the line is not exact. The Mexican authorities could argue about a measly 30 feet of lost territory but the blurry line extends to the citizens as well. I have read a few good writings from some mexican authors discussing the kind of identity crisis all this border building creates. One woman explained in her poem that she feels that she is from both the U.S. and Mexico. She, like many people we’ve mentioned, lives on one side and works on the other. She feels a sense of patriotism to both parts of her life but ultimately, the border is what is creating the problem. Everyday she must deal with the steel and stone that separate her identity and split her in two. We make people choose by building our wall…afterall you cant belong to, identify with, or have love for two countries at the same time GASP! Now I’m a rational person, and also one who can see this issue from the political perspective, so i’m not suggesting we tear down the border to make people like this poet happy. I know why the wall is there. But sometimes we lose sight of how much human behavior effects the way we do things. This writer’s sentiments are shared by many. The world has shrunk due to increases in communication, information, and travel technology and it is not uncommon to meet someone who is a blend of two backgrounds. A friend of mine is from Ecuador but his mother is fullblooded italian and he lives here in the U.S. You can’t tell him he can’t belong to, identify with, and love all three countries.

    But that’s what happens when legalities and politics get the last word-sometimes the people go unheard.

  5. I agree that the wall between the United States and Mexico has caused a disruption for many people who identify with both countries. Knowing many of these people personally, I can see how difficult it is to feel part of this country as well as part of Mexico and not be able to cross the border easily. I do agree that there has to be immigration laws in order to keep just anyone from entering (ie: truck traffickers) but there is also the question of when politics and security get in the way of people’s cultural identities. Identifying deeply with two societies and not being able to travel between the two countries can be a very frustrating experience. Like Shelby mentioned in the above response, people have to decide which place is more important to them. Is it right to control peoples’ identities?


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