The pros and cons of a border fence in America's Southwest

I read your March 14 editorial, "Border fence: symptom of a failed policy." I feel that this is not extreme at this point in time. I spent 12 years in the military, seven of those in the Southwest. If that fence keeps 100 people from dying in the desert, or 50 mothers from walking across the desert to have their babies - endangering themselves and the babies - it's worth it.

I spent three years in the 1980s stationed in Germany. I know what the "Iron Curtain" entailed. But we in the US are not trying keep anyone in, and we have a right to keep illegal migrants out of our sovereign territory.

If 1,000 Americans a month tried to sneak into Juarez, how long do you think it would take the Mexican government to put up a fence? And let's not kid ourselves, we can afford to upset the Mexican government a lot more than we will be able to afford another 500,000 or 1 million people to feed, house, and provide healthcare for - and that doesn't even count the jobs they'd need.

People don't like outsourcing jobs that could be done in the US, but they ought to be upset that we are "insourcing" jobs to illegal aliens every day.
Jim Cannon
Fulton, N.Y.

Your editorial about building a border fence accurately diagnoses the problems and consequences of our government's refusal over the years to adequately address illegal immigration and border security. It rightly raises the issue of our vulnerability in a post-9/11 world.

Even without the threat posed by international terrorism, the fearlessness of the criminal cartels that have taken operational control of much of our southern border ought to be motive enough for the US to take decisive action to seal off those sections of our border from unlawful entry.

While some may think "fortress America" is the wrong signal to send to the world, I think the signals we have been sending for years of lax enforcement of immigration laws directly contributed to the 9/11 attacks.

The lives and well-being of American citizens must take priority over every special interest group or foreign government. To that end, my fellow Minutemen and I support not just the construction of border fencing, but the immediate deployment of troops to secure the border until the federal government sufficiently staffs and funds the border patrol and builds a border fence.
Chris Simcox
Phoenix, Ariz. President, Minuteman Civil Defense Corps

Your March 14 editorial only addressed the human costs of a fence. But the effect on wildlife would be devastating. North-south movements by rare animals such as jaguars, ocelots, and jaguarundi would be cut off. Endangered desert bighorn sheep, desert pronghorn antelope, and other wildlife would also be harmed. The fence would cut off gene flow between populations that are already dangerously low.

To make matters worse, fences in remote areas of desert are worthless - illegal migrants can just use bulldozers or other heavy equipment to breach the fence at will.

Now imagine the situation where the forces behind illegal immigration control the border area. I have spent a lot of time along the Arizona/New Mexico border with Mexico (while bird watching), and I can say that the human/drug smuggling cartels really seem to run the area near the border.

Border fencing in remote areas of Arizona and New Mexico is expensive, ineffective, detrimental to wildlife, and harmful to US-Mexico relations.
Nathan Dias
Charleston, S.C.

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