May 14, 2005

Security vs. Culture

The INS appears to have responded to the Minuteman business by intentionally keeping apprehensions in the Minuteman parts of the borders low, thus making it look like the Project was unsuccessful. This sort of thing is not that surprising, since it would mean the INS was doing a bad job and needed help from a bunch of untrained goobers with binoculars, but it ought to result in a string of terminations.

Unfortunately, this only exacerbates the tension among a certain section of the country for whom The Border! represents some mythical Holy Grail which has been lost and must be the number one priority for all segments of society to reclaim. Of course, I've never heard anyone argue with evidence that any of the Islamist terrorists that have attacked this country in 1993 or 2001 came through the Mexican border. It was easy enough to just fly in through an airport.

For those people who like to conflate the importance of filtering out Islamists and no-goodniks with the cultural and economic effects of Hispanic migration, The Border! betrays their priorities. Sure, there's a good chance that an Islamist might try to sneak through the Mexican desert and get up into the US that way. But if you were an Islamist, with access to lots of Saudi cash, wouldn't you rather try and sneak through from Canada?

After all, the Canadian border is also horribly porous around lakes and forests. The US border with Canada is far less protected and monitored, far longer, and together that makes the world's longest 'unprotected' border, so-called. So let's see, I could try and sneak through the dry, arid, dangerous, gangster-filled Mexican desert and risk getting picked up by Mexican kidnappers or the US border patrol helicopters, or I could fly into Canada, spend a few nights in a hotel in Winnipeg or Thunder Bay, and take a bus down to a lake and just rent, buy or steal a little boat and motor on over, with the only risk that the occasional boater or errant Coast Guard guy might find me.

If a terrorist were caught in Mexico, he'd probably die of disease in prison and have little chance at getting off on trial. If a terrorist were caught in Canada, he'd have an attorney and all the protections of the Canadian trial system that are superior to Mexico.

The fact is, when the The Border! people refer to problems with The Border! they mean the Mexican boundary 99.99% of the time - even though there's probably more of a risk of it coming through Canada. The Border! has almost nothing to do with security and terrorism and almost everything to do with culture and economics. It's easier for people to feel unsecured against the Southern border because so many Mexicans are coming through every day illegally, but there are huge gaps in border security with Canada as well.

Does anyone honestly think that Montana alone, the US state with the largest Canadian-shared boundary, has cameras, satellites, helicopters, patrol boats, SUVs or men covering even half that border? Of course not. You could buy an ATV and joyride right across the border if you wanted, and it's a lot safer than the searing heat of the Mexican desert.

The reason that border security gets tied in with Mexico is not that there's less security at that border than the Canadian one. They've been falsely associated by the small The Border! element because it pre-existed widespread terrorism concerns. The Border! alarmists were scared of problems with mexican immigration - losing various jobs, people who can't speak English, people practicing their foreign customs, and even religious tensions. They didn't like Mexicans coming across The Border! but they didn't really have any objection to Canadians who continue to come into America at a substantial pace. This appears at first blush to be racist but I suspect a great deal of it has to do with culture and economics and race/racism being ancillary or subsequent concerns (if at all).

It's important that we retain the dichotomy of border concerns. There's security, on the one hand, and culture, on the other. Security is not only consistent with Mexican immigration but improved by it. Allowing more Mexicans to come here legally means that the border agents will be better equipped to deal with the few people trying to sneak through the cracks. Culture, however, demands that the strange people from the land to the South be forced to stay in their socialist, corrupt, authoritarian land because they were born there.

The cultural view has nothing to do with the needs of security, whatever claims made by The Border! cult to the contrary.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who knew what a big government liberal Bush was in 04? Since his infamous surrender speech (vigilantes - my as-!) the terrorists got a new life; attacks are up and hundreds have died. I voted for a liberal in 04!At least Arnold still wants to win the War on Terror even if my liberal Pres wants to let the terrorist win.
The ID law is a sham! Bush really thinks we are dumb! But I voted for the liberal so may be he is right?
Pat Kelly

May 14, 2005 4:53 PM  

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