Sunday, October 29, 2006

Fence on the border

There are many parallels between Berlin and Texas.
Both were divided through war and political settlements of the border.
Families and bloodlines were divided into two separate nations.
Many of the people who fought or financed the war(s) found their families as citizens of two different nations.
Families faced dire consequences if they violated restrictions on free travel between the two countries without visa, passports, official papers, and special permissions.
I detested the Berlin Wall and all it stands for and I detest a fence at the border of Texas.

There are better solutions.

We have put men and women into space and walked on the moon.
We have helped broker peace in other continents.
We have cured some diseases.
We have managed to survive despite ourselves as a nation much longer than anyone envisioned.

Surely we can find a REASONABLE SOLUTION that doesn't involve barbed wire and prevent grandchildren from easily traveling to grandpa's house across the border.
Surely we can identify decent human beings who have settled in the USA, worked here for years, abided by all our laws except for having come here.

We used to be able to travel easily between the USA and Canada. It wasn't unusual for a US Citizen to go to Canada and work for a summer while in college. Travel was relaxed and free. Border security focused on CRIMINALS and folks who were REAL DANGERS. Then the Viet Nam War dragged on for decades. It was unpopular. Our government requested that Canada tighten their immigration and guest worker laws to make it very difficult for US Citizens to go to Canada and live and work. The border wasn't tightened to keep American safe. It was tightened to keep Americans in.

Fences work two ways. This one on the Southern border says more about predjuice and discrimination than it says about national security. It will not solve the immigration potholes. It will not identify real terrorists. It will not stop the cayotes from smuggling folks across the border. It may change the routes somewhat but it merely makes it more lucrative and rips off the vulnerable more.

To us 164 years seems like a long time; However, that is not all that long when you look at the history of people on this continent. Most politicians look at the peoples of Mexico and of the United States as two peoples -- but we really aren't. To my knowledge, I have no Latino or Hispanic bloodlines in my family. We came to Virigina from England and Ireland between 1630 and 1720 and most of my parents grandparents came to Texas between 1838 and 1870. We have benefited from the sacrifices of Navarro, Juan Seguin and others who helped forge this state and nation. It offends me when I hear folks assume that Texans with hispanic surnames migrated here from south of the Rio Grande. Many of them had families living in Texas long before my family arrived. Most of them also have relatives living in Mexico.

How different is a wall in Berlin from a wall at the border of Texas? Do we condemn communist governments who separate families who resided on different sides of the Berlin wall while urging US immigration and politicans to "tighten" the Texas /Mexico border? Should those who escape the poverty of Mexico and live underground working in the USA, raising their families and contributing to the US economy, risk incarceration and total loss of everything they have worked for during years of peaceful "illegal" residence by simply crossing the border to attend a parent's funeral or attend a family reunion? Is it truly moral to criminalize peaceful economic refugees while ignoring corporations who violate anti-trust rules and politicians who pass rules to legalize schemes that benefit corporations who fund their political campaign?

What difference is there between Germans who were restricted from visiting kin folks residing on different sides of the Berlin wall and families who are separated by the Rio Grande? Should it really be a crime to migrate back and forth across the border, to visit, shop and even work from time to time without extensive red tape and large outlays of money?

Somehow, I see a much stronger parallel than many seem to acknowledge.

Yes, I think we need to know who is crossing.
Yes, I think the cayotes need to be stopped.
Yes, I think we need to inspect cargo coming in and going out.
Yes, I think we need better guest worker programs.
Yes, I think that this nation has a right to vote and decide on citizenship and green card and guest worker immigration policy.

Stringing barbed wire and manning it with Soviet era style guard towers with soldiers armed with machine guns doesn't mesh with my view of America. To me, this is letting the terrorists of 9/11 win.

Surely we have better solutions than this.

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