Trump promised to build an “impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful, southern border wall” along the US-Mexico border (and ‘Mexico will pay for the wall!’).
A rather intriguing and timely piece in the Los Angeles Times (January 31, 2017) by Ann M. Simmons:
[….] “Barriers for military defense are anomalies now, said Elisabeth Vallet, an adjunct professor of geography at the University of Quebec at Montreal and an expert on international border barriers. ‘Most of them are between countries at peace. It’s fencing ourselves in rather than keeping an enemy state out.’ [….]
There were very few barriers between nations at the end of World War II and just 15 in 1990, said Reece Jones, an associate professor of geography at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and author of Violent Borders: Refugees and the Right to Move, which explores how borders are formed and policed. But in the last five years, 25 new walls and fences have gone up between nations, he said.
Barriers also are being used to send a message, not only to outsiders but to a national audience, border experts said. During his election campaign, Trump said the U.S.-Mexico wall would be built to keep out Mexicans he described as ‘criminals, drug dealers, rapists.’ ‘What politicians want is to communicate to the electorate that something is being done,’ Madsen said. ‘It’s not about stopping people; it’s about communicating.’ [….]
‘It’s the fear of the other,’ Vallet said. ‘The other being somebody you don’t know, somebody you fear … the fence being the solution.’
But do barriers actually work? ‘What scholars have found is that walls and barriers seem to have very little impact,’ Jones said. Countries are ‘investing a lot of money on something you can go over, under or around,’ Vallet said. [emphasis added]
Migrants are often forced to find alternative means of crossing a border, and the new routes are often more dangerous, even deadly, Jones said. [emphasis added] For example, in the 2000s, more than 2,000 migrants a year died trying to cross into the U.S. from Mexico, Jones said. In other parts of the world, thousands of migrants have perished trekking through deserts or on shoddy boats trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.” The full article is here.
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