Angel Boligan, El Universal, Mexico City

And the walls came tumbling down.

Congress is running headlong into a wall, and it will probably break its neck. When will our representatives learn from history that walls do not prevent people from going to and fro? History has recorded that over 50 walls have been constructed by man to keep its enemies out and its inhabitants in. They are found on every continent. Walls have been constructed with dirt, clay, straw, stone, brick, iron, steel, and human bones. Each has outlived its usefulness or dissolved into dust. Oceans, lakes, and rivers serve as barriers, but they have been sailed or forded to allow for the free flow of human traffic.

The Great Wall of China, constructed in 200 BCE, employed border patrols to control immigration and impose taxes.

Hadrian’s Wall was constructed in 100 CE as a military outpost and to collect taxes. The Atlantic Wall was constructed in 1942 by the Nazis as a fortification to keep the Allies from the beaches of Normandy. It stretched from Denmark to southern France.

Sixty-five years ago, the Soviet Union erected the Berlin Wall to keep the West out and the East in so as to prevent a “brain drain” of scientists and scholars to the West. President Truman resolved that problem with the Berlin Airlift. In 1963 President Kennedy proclaimed his affinity to the German people by declaring “Ich bin ein Berliner” at the Brandenburg Gates. A generation later, President Reagan affirmed President Kennedy when he demanded, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” The Germans, with hammer and chisel, tore down that wall.

Recently, Congress resolved that another wall be erected on our southern border to keep the Mexicans and other Latin American nationals from entering the United States. The costs of this monstrosity is beyond human comprehension. The Congressional Research Service, a direct arm of Congress, has estimated the cost to be $48 billion for its 25-year life span. That amounts to $3 billion to $9 billion per mile, and that’s not figuring in the cost of private land acquisitions and labor. There are 1,952 miles of border from San Diego to El Paso. There would be an armed guard every 1,000 yards. the Economist reports that the fence would be “… more harm than good.” It further reports that 1,952 miles of fencing would prove to be ineffective.

So, why is Congress appropriating such huge sums of taxpayers’ dollars for this albatross? Where do Americans find the money? Isn’t war enough? Let’s feed, clothe, and maintain our sick, needy, and aged. To these issues, Congress appears to turn its deaf ear. Perhaps it’s fear mongering as evidenced by our enslavement of African Americans, creation of reservations for the American Indian, and the internment of Japanese Americans. I hope not.

We would be smart to take a lesson from Jericho before the next fence goes up.

Ken Pettit. cheerfully retired from many decades of service to the county as clerk-recorder-assessor and registrar of voters, has written his autobiography, Wiley Hall, and dedicates his time to reading books and playing with his dog, Barney.


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