- The American Conservative - https://www.theamericanconservative.com -

The Wall And Ecology

Readers, don’t forget that I’m traveling today, headed to Spain. A lot of the posts you will see over the day will have been written in advance, and scheduled to post. Please be patient about my approving comments. I’ll get to them as I can, between flights.

Here’s an interesting email from a conservative reader:

I agree with you (and Trump, and Cesar Chavez) about the need to reduce immigration and control the border. But the wall is an asinine idea. One of the things that ought to concern us most is its impact on the migration of wildlife.

Desert ecology is fragile to begin with, and man has enormously screwed up that country already, mostly through carelessness and ignorance. But we are getting better and better at understanding it an fixing the problems we created, but the wall will be a big barrier (pun intended) to those efforts (I moonlight as a professional ecologist and have helped with restoration projects for bighorn sheep and pronghorn antelope in the transpecos — a wall would screw up both populations and many others). And I’m convinced it will have a negligible impact on smugglers willing to invest in a robust saw or a plasma torch.

The wall is just a dog whistle meant to rile up the base. The immigration solution has to do with better policy and more personnel / enforcement.

Advertisement
76 Comments (Open | Close)

76 Comments To "The Wall And Ecology"

#1 Comment By Eric Blair On January 12, 2019 @ 12:07 pm

Normally, Rod’s comment sections are full of insight and critical thinking. But, to compare the desert along the US/Mexico border with the Negev? Do people here seriously think all deserts are the same? i guess they all just have big boulders, one coyote, one road runner, and access to the Acme mail-order catalog.

#2 Comment By kijunshi On January 12, 2019 @ 1:34 pm

Ugh. The wall seems to have made people lose their minds. I include the left in this, however…

“The Wall is a rallying symbol.”

Clearly, because that’s the only way it makes any sense.

“Only gullible city slickers would fall for the argument that a wall… is going to restrict wildlife movement.”

Uh… if wildlife can get through… so… can… people…???? ? ?

“The Big Bend area is sufficiently remote and the geography is forbidding to make it a lower priority.”

Smugglers will find a way.

“The wall doesn’t do all the work by itself. It has to be manned with armed personnel and maintained by professionals over time.”

And this will cost taxpayers HOW much??!? Also, do you realize you just proposed another gov’t bureaucracy?

“Obviously this has be balanced against the damage done by the illicit border traffic.”

This equation would compare “damage” with “extinction”. Oh, and how much DAMAGE are all those minimum-wage guards going to do, driving and tramping up and down around the wall?!

“My own opinion is the wall will be started and abandoned, like all those roads to nowhere and unfinished hospital in Iraq.”

Truth.

“Having said, do we have any more realistic solutions to border enforcement/security that don’t involve wholesale amnesty and providing more Democrat voters and cheap labor to Big Biz?”

YES. You can do, y’know, IMMIGRATION REFORM. Starting with asylum reform, since that’s what people seem to be frothing about the most (and because it encourages putting children in danger) and go from there. If it’s going to be done right it has to be done carefully, slowly, and within the existing system. Think about it – what’s going to happen if our existing system fractures, from whatever cause (like maybe gov’t employees not getting a paycheck HMMM JUST AN EXAMPLE)? Is it going to be harder for smugglers to exploit gaps to get their people through… or easier? Use your minds. If it isn’t an organized and, yes, bureaucratic method used, the economic benefits of coming across the border will bring the masses over. Refer to “The Drug War” for an example of how it’s gonna go. 75,000 dead from heroin overdose in 2017… are we winning yet?!

The real elephant in the room which this stupid discussion hasn’t even touched is that Americans actually LOVE illegal immigrants. Not their presence, of course, but all those sweet services we can get for cheap, cheap, cheap! All that lawn maintenance, elder care, hotel maintenance, farmhand work and more… for less than minimum wage, wa-hoo! More money to spend on mortgages and Alexa!

This argument isn’t even about the immigrants, though of course they are the ones forced to suffer the most. It’s about what responsibilities Americans have to each other, and especially to our own local poor. This wall, even if it gets completed (it won’t), won’t stop illegal immigration, won’t stop economic devastation and stratification, won’t stop communities changing in the face of economic devastation and stratification, and won’t bring about a single thing its proponents are praying for.

Buckle up, though – recession is coming.

#3 Comment By Steve On January 12, 2019 @ 6:08 pm

I’ve lived some of my life along the border, and have visited essentially all of it. The topography will cause constant maintenance problems. As has been reported for the National Butterfly Center near McAllen, the US will essentially have to cede many square miles of US property to Mexico. The ecological loss will be priceless. Many business will be hurt.

And, I recently read that drones with the ability to carry a person are only a few years away. What then?

The ecological loss of a wall would be priceless.

#4 Comment By Dale McNamee On January 12, 2019 @ 7:05 pm

I wonder if those who are so concerned about the “desert ecosystem” ever saw the pictures of the trash and filth left by the illegal aliens who pass through it ?

It’s quite disgusting !

John Gruskos is absolutely correct regarding the Israeli wall and the fact that it, along with the actions of Israel and Egypt actually saves the ecosystem.

#5 Comment By Moe On January 12, 2019 @ 9:06 pm

“The immigration solution has to do with better policy and more personnel / enforcement.”

Riiiiight. And now that one of our major parties is pretty much committed to the “borders are racist” position, you can be certain that they’ll be keeping those policies in place when in office. They’d never think of quietly defunding ICE or telling the border patrol to stand down.

The whole point of a permanent physical barrier is that it permanently changes the facts on the ground. The elites of both parties want the border more or less open, with a free flow of low-skill workers to exploit. The only politically feasible chance of a long-term restriction on illegal immigration is to put something in place that cannot easily be taken down.

Policy doesn’t cut it. More agents don’t cut it. (as useful as it would be to have those things as well). A permanent wall/fence is the only thing that would survive the next Dem administration.

#6 Comment By Tom S. On January 12, 2019 @ 9:53 pm

The Israeli border fence isn’t in the Negev or Sinai.

#7 Comment By midtown On January 13, 2019 @ 7:05 am

I expect the wall will crash deer and antelope populations and cut off a lot of income these ranchers might get in hunting fees.

Well, that is certainly more important than the thousands of Americans killed by illegal immigration through drunk driving deaths and outright murders. Good lord — have some empathy, as the libs say.

As for most illegals being visa overstays, why is it that, when a case like the recent drunk driving illegal who wiped out a family appears, the illegal has been deported 15 times? Are you saying he overstayed 15 visas?!!

#8 Comment By JonF On January 13, 2019 @ 12:30 pm

Re: Americans actually LOVE illegal immigrants. Not their presence, of course, but all those sweet services we can get for cheap, cheap, cheap!

How many Americans employ illegal immigrants and pay them crap wages? I suspect that number is a fairly tiny percent of the total population, and concentrated at the upper end of the income spectrum.

#9 Comment By Fran Macadam On January 13, 2019 @ 1:10 pm

“Fran, we are not adding people from some alternate universe. Those people already exist and they already h as ve an effect on the world’s environment. It’s not like Mexico is inhabited by hunter-gatherers.”

If you’re a no-borders kind of guy preserving what we had is of no importance. How are the environmental regulations in the Third World?

The person who claims to love far away mankind, often fails to love the neighbor right next to him as he should, in practical ways.

“I love mankind, it’s my deplorable neighbors I can’t stand.”

#10 Comment By John Gruskos On January 13, 2019 @ 1:55 pm

[1]

The healthy ecology on the Israeli side of the fence can be seen from orbit.

#11 Comment By Tom D On January 13, 2019 @ 3:48 pm

midtown: “Well, that is certainly more important than the thousands of Americans killed by illegal immigration through drunk driving deaths and outright murders.”

That might be relevant, were it actually true. In truth, illegal immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than citizens — and by quite a margin, too.

So the issue, apparently, is that liberals fail to show sufficient sympathy for a hallucinated, non-existent crisis. Got it.

#12 Comment By Harve On January 13, 2019 @ 4:50 pm

midtown says:

“Well, that is certainly more important than the thousands of Americans killed by illegal immigration through drunk driving deaths and outright murders. Good lord — have some empathy, as the libs say.”

That idea seems to have come from the racist, nativist Steve King:

[2]

Moe says:

“Riiiiight. And now that one of our major parties is pretty much committed to the “borders are racist” position.”

Name one person who has said borders are racist.

When one is talking about land it’s often useful to go on Google Earth and actually compare and contrast. The Negev is a postage stamp compared to area along the Rio Grand:

[3]

#13 Comment By anon On January 13, 2019 @ 7:26 pm

Pius X:

“I never saw or heard of any environmentalists making a case that Mexico should take responsibility and clean up that River. Seems like ecologist are only interested in the environmental sins of the USA.”
This from a wuick web search…there’s more but why pile on?

In 2006, through another binational project, Mexicali finished building a second wastewater treatment facility to treat the 10 to 20 million US gallons (38,000 to 76,000 m3) per day of raw and partially treated sewage that was being discharged into the river. In May 2005, the New River was designated as one of two environmental justice water quality pilot projects for the State of California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) to try to address the various pollution sources collaboratively between the various stakeholders.[14]

#14 Comment By anon On January 13, 2019 @ 7:36 pm

“And now that one of our major parties is pretty much committed to the “borders are racist” position…”

Please. Under Obama immigration laws were more stringently enforced than under W. Bush, and Democrats consistently vote for border security measures and E-Verify.

Republicans cannot agree within their own party on an immigration policy, and while they’re attempting to blame Democrats for their own disarray we should not forget that funding a wall is a budgetary issue, and thus could have been funded with the rest of the budget. It was not even requested in the budget because Republicans are not in agreement about it.

#15 Comment By TG On January 13, 2019 @ 7:49 pm

Agreed that the wall by itself hardly means anything. What’s the point of a wall when anyone coming up to it can be granted ‘asylum’ and let through no questions asked? And legal immigration and ‘guest’ workers continue to set records?

But your concern about the environment is rubbish. Post-1970 cheap-labor immigration policy has already increased the population of the United States by about 100 million more than it would have been with the pre-1970 policy. Important: it is not the number of foreign born that matters, it is the total net increase in population due to specific immigration policies. You have to count the descendants as well.

So since 1970 the per-capita energy use of the United States has fallen by 15%. But, immigration has more than offset this! This environmental cost of this alone makes the issues of a border wall moot.

And as far as immigration not increasing global population but only moving it around, this is first and foremost irrelevant as regards the impact of massive forced population increases on the United States. It is also false, as every person we let in from the overpopulated third world just reduces the pressure in their home countries and allows them to continue breeding in massive numbers.

So at current rates, a person born today could easily see the population of the United States forced up to a billion or more. What would be the environmental impact of that, do you think?

#16 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On January 13, 2019 @ 8:19 pm

The Israeli border fence isn’t in the Negev or Sinai.

More precisely, in areas of dense population where there is some pattern of violence and hostility, a fence can be a useful means of keeping hostile populations apart, or keeping the hostile fraction of each population from infiltrating each other. So fencing between Tijuana and San Diego could make sense, as one tool, but thousands of miles are not cost effective, or effective at all.

#17 Comment By Connecticut Farmer On January 14, 2019 @ 10:38 am

@kijunshi

“The real elephant in the room which this stupid discussion hasn’t even touched is that Americans actually LOVE illegal immigrants. Not their presence, of course, but all those sweet services we can get for cheap, cheap, cheap! All that lawn maintenance, elder care, hotel maintenance, farmhand work and more… for less than minimum wage, wa-hoo! More money to spend on mortgages and Alexa!”

Who’s “we”? Surely not the consumer of these “sweet services”? I don’t see any prices dropping. On the other hand, SOMEBODY, is pocketing the difference. Guess who?

#18 Comment By Connecticut Farmer On January 14, 2019 @ 10:49 am

@Fran Macadam

“An oversupply of cheap undocumented labor is reducing living standards for legal immigrants and citizens.”

Let’s call this an “inconvenient truth”. That the progs choose to ignore one of the basic lessons of Economics 101 says far more about them than it does about people like you or me.

#19 Comment By TR On January 14, 2019 @ 12:41 pm

I don’t think you do the environment any good when you use ecological arguments for political purposes.

#20 Comment By One Guy On January 14, 2019 @ 3:08 pm

It’s funny to me how many Trump supporters it takes to explain what he really meant. “He didn’t mean Mexico would write a check.” “He didn’t mean the wall would cover the whole border.” “He didn’t mean there wouldn’t be people on the wall everywhere.” “He didn’t really mean thousands of terrorists were stopped at the border.” “He didn’t really mean he’d lock her up.”

Apparently, people who have never talked to Trump know exactly what he is trying to say.

#21 Comment By Harve On January 14, 2019 @ 4:46 pm

John Gruskos says:

[1]

“The healthy ecology on the Israeli side of the fence can be seen from orbit.”

Gaza is not the Negev. Those are crop circles on the Israeli side made possible from wells. Follow the satellite view on google earth from Rafah to Taba to get a better view. If you click on the Nitzanei Sinai settlement you can get a a couple of photos of the fence separating Egypt and Israel.

The only way to build that sort of structure from the Gulf to the Pacific would be to in effect cede many square miles of U.S. territory. We fought a war to make the Rio Grand a national boundary and now conservatives want to abandon it.

Fencing in a few areas is necessary but most of that has been built. I was raised to see fear and emotion as weaknesses to be overcome not given into. Anyone seeing the present situation as a crisis that requires us to seize private land, destroy public land, and militarize the border needs to get a grip.

#22 Comment By jay kalend On January 14, 2019 @ 7:00 pm

What tosh, Rod! You might suggest draining Lake Powell to bring back Glen Canyon, a natural wonder that is drying out and losing water anyway.

Or you might look at the money LBJ spent on a far less meritorious project: diverting the Rio Grande,

[4]

#23 Comment By Noah172 On January 14, 2019 @ 8:49 pm

Harve wrote:

The Negev is a postage stamp compared to area along the Rio Grand

And the US has ~40x Israel’s population and >50x Israel’s GDP. We can handle the larger scale.

How about Saudi Arabia fencing its border with Iraq? Turkey walling its Syrian border? Pakistan fencing its Afghan border?

#24 Comment By Harve On January 14, 2019 @ 9:38 pm

TR says:

“I don’t think you do the environment any good when you use ecological arguments for political purposes.”

Care to point out where Rod’s correspondent and others pointing out that the wall would be an environmental disaster are wrong?

#25 Comment By John Gruskos On January 15, 2019 @ 12:06 pm

“The only way to build that sort of structure from the Gulf to the Pacific would be to in effect cede many square miles of U.S. territory.”

Ceding a few border districts is a small price to pay to prevent Mexico from demographically reconquering the entire Southwest.

Indeed, we Americans are faced with the imminent demographic loss of not only the Southwest, but also the original American homeland north and east of the Adams-Onis line.

A treaty ceding untenable areas to Mexico in return for $30 billion could be the mechanism by which we make Mexico pay for the border wall.

#26 Comment By Harve On January 15, 2019 @ 5:17 pm

Noah172 says:

Harve wrote:

“The Negev is a postage stamp compared to area along the Rio Grand”

“And the US has ~40x Israel’s population and >50x Israel’s GDP. We can handle the larger scale.”

Which observation misses what I assumed was an obvious point and why I suggested a trip via the google earth.

Population and GDP are irrelevant as most of the U.S. population is far away from the southern border and the issue isn’t cost per se as much as the effectiveness relative to other means of border control and the externalities (seizing private land and environmental damage).

“How about Saudi Arabia fencing its border with Iraq? Turkey walling its Syrian border? Pakistan fencing its Afghan border?”

I guess I’m getting old but there was a time when conservatives in the United States didn’t aspire to our nation blindly aping autocrats, dictators, and failed states.

Hey! We could mine the border too! Would that ease your all important fears? Anyway, there is no comparison between the situation on our borders and the referenced ones. Terrorists crossing the border turned out to be a lie. Drugs go through ports of entry for the most part and that is where funding should go. Learn to play which of these is not like the others.

As I pointed out before, surrendering to fear is a character defect. There is a problem at the border. So what? There has been a problem at the border since Polk decided that the Rio Grande and not the Nueces was the border and that fighting a war to expand slavery was a good idea. There is less of a problem now then there was a few years ago and Pancho Villa is long dead.

[5]

We spent decades in the 20th century destabilizing Central America because folks like you were hysterical about communism. Now you’re hysterical about the immigrants that policy has produced and we’re supposed to throw away billions, tear up the landscape and seize private property because you’re scared due to the easily foreseeable results of your prior failed policies?