Thursday, February 02, 2017

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!’).

“ … Trump’s wall is part of a growing trend of nations fencing off their neighbors even those they call friends.” 

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.
Typically, the goal is to prevent people from poorer nations of the global South from entering the more wealthy and industrialized nations of the North, experts said. [emphasis added] ‘What would be unusual would be to have a wall between countries that are equivalent economically,’ said Kenneth D. Madsen, associate professor in geography at Ohio State University at Newark. ‘Today, the walls are really between countries that have economic discrepancies.’ 

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. 

Recommended Reading:

    • Barry, Brian and Robert E. Goodin, eds. Free Movement: Ethical issues in the transnational migration of people and of money. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1992. 
    • Benhabib, Seyla. The Rights of Others: Aliens, Residents, and Citizens. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.  
    • Betts, Alexander. Protection by Persuasion: International Cooperation in the Refugee Regime. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2009. 
    • Bradley, Megan. Refugee Repatriation: Justice, Responsibility and Redress. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014. 
    • Calavita, Kitty. Inside the State: The Bracero Program, Immigration, and the I.N.S. New Orleans, LA: Quid Pro Books, 2010 ed. (Routledge, 1992). 
    • Carens, Joseph H. The Ethics of Immigration. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. 
    • Chimni, B.S., ed. International Refugee Law. New Delhi: Sage, 2000. 
    • Cholewinski, Ryszard, Richard Perruchoud and Euan MacDonald, eds. International Migration Law: Developing Paradigms and Key Challenges. The Hague: T.M.C. Asser Press, 2007. 
    • De León, Jason. The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2015.  
    • Dow, Mark. American Gulag: Inside U.S. Immigration Prisons. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2005. 
    • Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, Elena, Gil Loescher, Katy Long, and Nando Sigona, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2014. 
    • Gallagher, Anne T. and Fiona David. The International Law of Migrant Smuggling. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014. 
    • García, María Cristina. Seeking Refuge: Central American Migration to Mexico, the United States, and Canada. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2006.  
    • Gauci, Jean-Pierre, Mariagiulia Giuffré, and Evangelia (Lilian) Tsourdi, eds. Exploring the Boundaries of Refugee Law: Current Protection Challenges. Leiden: Brill/Nijhoff, 2015. 
    • Gonzales, Roberto G. Lives in Limbo: Undocumented and Coming of Age in America. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2016. 
    • Guchteneire, Paul de, Antoine Pecoud, and Ryszard Cholewinski, eds. Migration and Human Rights: The United Nations Convention on Migrant Workers’ Rights. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009. 
    • Hathaway, James C. The Rights of Refugees Under International Law. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005. 
    • Islam, Rafiqul and Jahid Hossain Bhuiyan, eds. An Introduction to International Refugee Law. Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2013. 
    • Jacques, Armed. Conflict and Displacement: The Protection of Refugees and Displaced Persons under International Humanitarian Law. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012. 
    • Jones, Reece. Violent Borders: Refugees and the Right to Move. London: Verso, 2017. 
    • Kapuy, Klaus. The Social Security Position of Irregular Migrant Workers: New Insights from National Social Security Law and International Law. Cambridge, UK: Intersentia, 2011. 
    • Lewis, Corinne. UNHCR and International Refugee Law: From Treaties to Innovation. New York: Routledge, 2012. 
    • McAdam, Jane. Climate Change, Forced Migration, and International Law. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2012. 
    • Molina, Natalia. How Race Is Made in America: Immigration, Citizenship, and the Historical Power of Racial Scripts. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2014. 
    • Moorhead, Caroline. Human Cargo: A Journey among Refugees. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 2005.  
    • Orchard, Phil. A Right to Flee: Refugees, States, and the Construction of International Cooperation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014. 
    • Simeon, James C., ed. Critical Issues in International Refugee Law: Strategies Toward Interpretative Harmony. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.  
    • Simeon, James C., ed. The UNHCR and the Supervision of International Refugee Law. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2013. 
    • Slingenberg, Lieneke. The Reception of Asylum Seekers under International Law: Between Sovereignty and Equality. Portland, OR: Hart Publishing, 2014. 
    • Vriezen, Vera. Amnesty Justified? The need for a case by case approach in the interests of human rights. Cambridge, UK: Intersentia, 2012. 
    • Weissbrodt, David. The Human Rights of Non-Citizens. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2008. 
    • Wojnowska-Radzińska, Julia. The Right of an Alien to be Protected against Arbitrary Expulsion in International Law. Leiden: Brill/Nijhoff, 2015.
    Update: Here is evidence for the argument that “[g]iving sanctuary to undocumented immigrants doesn’t threaten public safety—it increases it,” Los Angeles Times, February 2, 2017.


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