New DHS Head Understands Security

This quote impresses me:

Gov. Janet Napolitano, D-Ariz., is smashing the idea of a border wall, stating it would be too expensive, take too long to construct, and be ineffective once completed.

“You show me a 50-foot wall and I’ll show you a 51-foot ladder at the border. That’s the way the border works,” Napolitano told the Associated Press.

Instead of a wall, she said funds would be better utilized on beefing up Border Patrol manpower, technology sensors and unmanned aerial vehicles.

I am cautiously optimistic.

Posted on November 26, 2008 at 12:43 PM81 Comments


Mailman November 26, 2008 1:06 PM

In that case, a federal bill should be passed to ban all ladders higher than 49 feet! Security is easy!

Savik November 26, 2008 1:15 PM

None of the approaches will work unless there is a shoot to kill directive. And no it wouldn’t mean that we would be killing millions of people. It would only mean that few illegal aliens are shot, the message would soon get back – and all of the sudden the benefit to coming to the U.S. illegally would be all too high.

It would actually save lives because less would die by the hands of smugglers than would get shot by border patrol. Additionally, drug prices would increase due since it would be more difficult to get them across as well…thus lowering illegal drug consumption.

It is amazing what a little properly applied lethal force can accomplish.

Esurnir November 26, 2008 1:16 PM

@Mailman: And we should embargo every country selling ladders higher than 49 feet and submit every company wanting to sell ladders higher than 40 (for security margin) to export controls.

Jurjen November 26, 2008 1:17 PM

Yes, 49 foot is just the thing. I like the fact that it is actually easy to climb a 50-foot wall with a 49-foot ladder: that makes the measure so much more realisitic!

Nomen Publicus November 26, 2008 1:27 PM

@Savik, East Germany tried that policy with the Berlin Wall. It didn’t stop attempts and attracted lots of journalists with film cameras.

Do you really want the US to lower itself to the same moral level as East Germany?

If Mexicans can afford to pay to be smuggled in, why not just put a turnstile on the border and charge for entry?

Frank Ch. Eigler November 26, 2008 1:35 PM


Do you really want the US to lower itself to the same moral level as East Germany?

People comparing the US-Mexico border to East-West Germany’s are pathetic and illiterate. The former is there to keep people out, the latter was there to keep people in. The preposition (and its implications) make all the difference.

Esurnir November 26, 2008 1:41 PM

@Frank Ch. Eiger: Your still shooting to death people who’s only crime is wanting to live in the us, and who’s legal situation make them far less likely to become criminals.

RH November 26, 2008 1:42 PM

@Frank E: While I agree the prepositions are different, if you look at it a bit simpler…. both were borders which they believe separate them from happiness.

While the use of lethal force is always debatable, it is a well recognized truth that the only way to make people do what you want is to make them want to do what you want. Whether you do so by force or coercion or deception… does not matter. You solve the illegal alien problem by making them prefer to stay in Mexico.

The problem is how difficult it is to coerce someone who feels they have nothing to lose, especially in a country where rights are given out free as water (or free as water rights, if you prefer).

Esurnir November 26, 2008 1:42 PM

@Frank Ch. Eiger: which also seems to have been the motivation of East German, a better life only attainable beyound a wall who shame america more than anything else.

George November 26, 2008 1:46 PM

I wonder if she’ll do away with Tom Ridge’s Terror Alert color codes that tell us how afraid we’re supposed to feel. I suspect that she at least can understand that it invites inevitable questions about why, if the administration’s Global War on Terror is as effective as Bush and Cheney claim, the Terror Alert hasn’t dropped below yellow since the day it was created.

JimFive November 26, 2008 1:47 PM

While I agree that the border fence is a bad idea, it should be noted that the utility of such a fence isn’t only to keep people on the (officially) appropriate side. It also slows down the people crossing it. Without a fence it takes a fraction of a second to get a group of people to go 10 feet. With the fence it can take over a minute to go those same 10 feet, and multiply that by the number of people crossing.

If fences were useless they wouldn’t be used to secure any site. The big problem with a border fence is that it’s huge and therefore difficult(impossible?) to monitor.


Savik November 26, 2008 1:50 PM


It is not a crime to want to live in the U.S. We do have legal means of coming here. The crime is coming here in an illegal manner. I like you you couch it in innocuous terms, “legal situation””. Look, the fact is they ARE criminals because they broke our laws.

@Chief Angry Cloud

The key, as I said, is “properly applied” lethal force. Most criminals that have committed capitol crimes are not punished in a capitol manner, or are not punished swift enough. So if you take swift and universal punishment out of the equation the deterrent is blunted.

Bottom line is that lethal force will not stop it completely, I will give you that. But it will slow it to an insignificant trickle.

JimFive November 26, 2008 1:50 PM


A much better way to stop illegal immigration is to take away the demand. That is, punish the employers. If you do that then you are left with chasing down the small group of people coming in for other purposes (family or smuggling). You then have a much smaller problem to tackle.


KJN November 26, 2008 2:05 PM


So, how do you choose who to shoot? Is simply being brown and taking a walk in the desert near the border sufficient cause to get you killed? Nice. Just the kind of country I want to live in.

Michael Peters November 26, 2008 2:19 PM


Yes, lethal force would stop a lot of people from crossing our border illegally. Yes it is criminal what they are doing. But it’s a misdemeanor! If police could shoot at any car that’s speeding it would probably make everyone obey our traffic laws too, but does that mean a reduction in a minor crime is worth purposely taking lives? I severely hope you don’t really believe that.

Nick Lancaster November 26, 2008 2:19 PM

Savik’s suggestion that the right amount of force will provide the deterrent overlooks that the deterrent factor means the chance of ‘dead’ vs. ‘across the border’ outweighs the perceived gain of being in America.

You have to go back to the questions of objective, cost, and attendant drawbacks. “Easy! More guns! Dead people!” isn’t a workable answer.

James Baldwin November 26, 2008 2:20 PM

I am unimpressed with her ideas. I am not “cautiously optimistic”.

In both cases we’re talking about edge security issues but not about correcting the inherent problems which are the ultimate cause of concern.Its all reactionary and doesn’t stop anyone from attempting to cross the border.

The primary and single most effective way to reduce the number of undocumented workers is worksite enforcement. Until you make the economics of hiring undocumented workers infeasible, companies will continue to hire them and they will continue to find ways across the border.

Lethal force, in this case, is silly. Its a deterrent completely outside the realm of a reasonable response to the crime.

I think, with regards to this discussion, both here and in the public, it is very important to divorce the two problems being address: border security and undocumented workers. Addressing the problem of foreign nationals entering the country in order to prevent violent acts is a completely different problem to address than undocumented workers and requires different responses (and levels of response) even in the cases where similar methods overlap. A border fence can only be part of an omnibus measure to address national security concerns, alongside port and shore security, etc. To argue that undocumented workers present a national security risk and order lethal force to prevent it is abominable.

Fred P November 26, 2008 2:21 PM

@Savik – most undocumented aliens are not criminals. Immigration law is part of the civil code, not the criminal code, and many undocumented aliens enter the U.S.A. legally – they just then stay beyond the limits of their visa.

This is also why walls can’t work in eliminating undocumented aliens (nor can other aggressive border-control measures). Anyone with a small amount of money from one of a large group of other countries (or a little more money from virtually any country) who wants to enter the U.S.A. can enter on a vacation, then simply never leave.

Fred P November 26, 2008 2:28 PM

@James Baldwin-

I’m unconvinced that enforcing laws on employers (such as farmers) will work well – one of the reasons that the federal government can get away with what they presently do with immigrants (documented or not) is because they can’t vote. Lots of employers together can make a huge stink, and often get laws changed in their favor.

If the objective is to reduce immigration from Mexico and South America, I’d suggest funding public works projects in some of those countries.

Dubious poster November 26, 2008 2:31 PM

@Nomen Publicus
Do you really see much difference between the current state of affair in the US and former East Germany ?

Rich Wilson November 26, 2008 2:46 PM


A random sample of all drivers today will die in car accidents. Just how many people are you thinking we’d need to shoot?

mcb November 26, 2008 2:49 PM

Let’s cut Savik a little slack; he’s just trying to help. If we let him make illegal immigration a capital crime all sorts of intractable problems become…well…tractable. How about we package all our spent nuclear reactor fuel and other radioactive wastes into cleverly configured stainless steel containers and simply line them up along the border? We get non-lingual border markers, an award-winning art installation, an end to the Yucca Mountain debate, the long-term spent fuel storage problem is solved, green nuclear power is re-valorized, a sufficient budget for border surveillance & response assured, and any economic refugees from points south still get the death penalty instead of inconveniencing law-breaking U.S. employers.

Davi Ottenheimer November 26, 2008 2:49 PM

You just have to love comments like this one:

“People comparing the US-Mexico border to East-West Germany’s are pathetic and illiterate”

Of course, the next sentence in the comment is a comparison of the US-Mexico border to East-West Germany. Ha ha.

Too funny! You can’t make this material up.

It reminds me of certain Texans who say they don’t wait around for others to help solve their border security (e.g. giving the finger to anyone who disagrees with them), while they at the same time request tens of millions of dollars in federal hand-outs to start the program.

christopher November 26, 2008 2:52 PM

@FredP: illegal, not undocumented. You can buy into the redefinition, but it’s illegal.

@Savik and respondents: crime is not stemmed by the punishment but the perceived risk of getting caught, period. DoJ even confirms that the penalty is irrelevant, only the perception real or imagined that a perpetrator can get away clean.

You still have to secure borders, but walls and the like are probably not going to be effective.

As for attacking demand, well, let’s look at the war on drugs for our lessons there, shall we?


Kadin November 26, 2008 2:58 PM

I’m with James Baldwin; while some physical border-security measures are necessary, the key to the illegal-worker problem is the demand for them here in the U.S.

A rigorous enforcement regime that punished employers, to the point where the risk/benefit no longer worked out in favor of illegal workers, would make America an unattractive place to go. Practically overnight I suspect you’d see a decline in human smuggling.

Also, unlike erecting a fence, worksite enforcement wouldn’t leave us with the problem of millions of illegal workers still here, and still working; when the supply of jobs dried up, it would force (or at least encourage) workers to migrate back to countries where they can work legally. There have been stories of this happening already, simply due to the economic situation. (And many migrant farm workers migrate seasonally between Mexico and the U.S. as it is; if they were no longer employable in the U.S., they would probably just stop coming back.)

The key, as Fred P alludes to, is overcoming the political opposition that stringent opposition would face from farmers, meatpackers, and other industries that benefit from the cheaper-than-slave-labor that illegal workers provide. I suspect that won’t happen until the economy gets so bad, and the labor surplus so huge and damaging, that the public’s anger at illegal workers can no longer be ignored by politicians, even in exchange for campaign dollars.

I would expect to see the industries that benefit from illegal workers supporting red-herring programs (like the border fence) because they know it distracts from worksite enforcement that will actually hit them where it hurts.

Kadin November 26, 2008 3:01 PM

Typo correction to the above comment (at 2:58 PM) … the fourth paragraph should read:

The key, as Fred P alludes to, is overcoming the political opposition that stringent enforcement would face from farmers, meatpackers, and other industries that benefit from the cheaper-than-slave-labor that illegal workers provide. I suspect that won’t happen until the economy gets so bad, and the labor surplus so huge and damaging, that the public’s anger at illegal workers can no longer be ignored by politicians, even in exchange for campaign dollars.

NM November 26, 2008 3:05 PM

@Frank: “People comparing the US-Mexico border to East-West Germany’s are pathetic and illiterate. ”

Oh yeah they’re illiterate all right. The comparison with present day authoritarianism in the US works much better with the régime that preceded “East-West Germany”.

Not Anonymous November 26, 2008 3:14 PM

@NM: “The comparison with present day authoritarianism in the US works much better with the régime that preceded “East-West Germany”. ”

Oh sure, and where are all the millions of people killed? And I’m not talking about wars here.

Fred P November 26, 2008 3:27 PM


Perhaps we’re talking around each other. If you are referring to a class of aliens that have violated criminal code, then the legal term is Criminal Aliens – defined in the first reference below (not “Illegal Aliens”). The term “Illegal Aliens” is sometimes use to describe legal term “Undocumented Alien”, but perhaps you are not attempting to use it in this manner.

On the other hand, if you believe that being undocumented in the U.S.A. is a criminal, please point to any point of the criminal code that refers to immigration status in and of itself as a crime. I will even assist you by pointing out the most relevant section of the Immigration and Nationality Act:|SLB&s_fieldSearch=foliodestination|ACT236&s_type=all&hash=0-0-0-241

Note that the main obstacle you’ll encounter is that the Immigration and Nationality Act is part of the Civil Code (not the Criminal Code). “Undocumented Alien” is the legal term for people who are in the U.S.A. that have no green card, no valid VISA, and no citizenship in the U.S.A. Most of them entered without violating criminal law, therefore they are not criminals. As yet another example, overstaying a student VISA makes one an undocumented alien, not a criminal alien.

If you read the above, and the reference on criminal activity below, you’ll note that even aliens who are criminals cannot be denied VISAs under certain (fairly narrow) exceptions.|SLB&s_fieldSearch=foliodestination|act212a2&s_type=all&hash=0-0-0-1197

Savik November 26, 2008 3:28 PM

Well for those that can’t stomach real solutions such as military enforcement, the only other option we have here is to have a program that brings them here for work and sends them home when the work is done. Texas had a program like this at one time and it worked well; but a certain group felt they were taking “their” work away (which wasn’t true) and got some laws passed to eliminate the program.

averros November 26, 2008 3:33 PM

@Frank Ch. Eigler:

People comparing the US-Mexico border to
East-West Germany’s are pathetic and illiterate.
The former is there to keep people out, the
latter was there to keep people in. The
preposition (and its implications) make all the

What you naive Americans fail to understand is that a border (and its wall) good enough to keep people out will work just as well to keep people in. Just the way it worked in the USSR, comrades.

Rafe November 26, 2008 3:34 PM

What impresses me about the quote is that it’s from 2005, before it was politically obvious that the fence project is an utter failure. (The idiocy of the fence was obvious rationally from the beginning.)

If you want to stem the tide of people crossing the border to work, you need to address the 1000% pay discrepancy that exists between the two sides.

JimFive November 26, 2008 3:38 PM

“As for attacking demand, well, let’s look at the war on drugs for our lessons there, shall we?”

The problem of drug control is not very analagous with the problem of illegal immigration. First, the demand for labor has a legal pool of workers to draw from, while the demand for drugs does not. This puts a ceiling on the cost for illegal labor that is much lower than the ceiling on the cost of drugs. Which is to say that you don’t have to make hiring illegal workers much more expensive before it becomes cheaper to hire legal workers.

Secondly, drugs are imported by a small group of suppliers and distributed to a large disparate set of consumers. Illegal labor is imported by a large disparate set of suppliers (the individual workers) and distributed to a smaller, more homogenous set of consumers (low skill employers)

Targeting the supply side of the equation forces the costs of avoiding the authorities onto the suppliers, while targeting the demand side forces those on to the consumer. In the war on drugs, demand side enforcement spreads the cost out while for illegal immigration that enforcement centralizes the costs. Supply side enforcement is just the opposite. Inn our current immigration enforcement model (supply side) the cost of avoiding the authorities is born almost solely by the worker. If the employers had to bear a large portion of that cost it would become cheaper for them to just hire legal workers.


Garrett November 26, 2008 3:53 PM

Allow me to be contrarian here: what’s the benefit of raising the bar on the difficulty to come into this country illegally from our southern border? Economic? Moral? Security? Economically: immigrants (including the illegal kind) have been an aggregate benefit to this country (say economists). Morally: I hardly see it as “compassionate” to deny a better life to people who are starving for it (literally). Security-wise: this might be the best argument, but still lacking. If we’re concerned about terrorist infiltration, then locking our northern border would make a lot more sense.

Junk Science Skeptic November 26, 2008 4:07 PM

Forget fences, ladders, border patrol agents, sensors and UAV’s.

With the exception of the Himalayan mountain range, can anybody name one land (non-water) border that has been successfully defended for an historically significant period of time (without Soviet-style commitment of the nation’s entire GNP to the military budget)?

This isn’t a case of breaking the law, it’s a case of a law that itself is broken.

As long as there is a demand for people to do hard work for low pay, foreigners will come to fill that demand. If the law forces these people to spend $10K and three years to get permission to come here to work for eleven months to earn $8-9K, then people will break the law.

Come up with a guest worker program that has even a faint grasp on reality, and 99% of the illegal immigration problem goes away overnight. At that point, you begin to reach a situation where the remaining 1% can be managed.

Josh O November 26, 2008 4:19 PM

I don’t understand why anyone is surprised by this statement. For the most part all Democrat politicians are against a wall. Mostly they just don’t want to stop illegal immigration either though. We’ll have to see what the new Secretary will want. I don’t seriously think for a minute that changing parties will improve things.

Skorj November 26, 2008 4:47 PM

Make it easier to come to the US and get a job legally than to do so illegally. Simple as that.

There’s no benefit to reducing the number of immigrants – the US needs the workers, and needs the population in general, as birth rate is lower than death rate.

There’s a huge benefit to keeping the immigrants “on the books” – paid at least minimium wage, subject to the simplest background checks (at least stop those who have, say, escaped from prison), etc.

Trying to keep people out of the US is solving the wrong problem entirely. As other commentors have said: jobsite enforcement is the key. Added to that, IMO, should be a very easy way to get both a temporary work permit and to get on the path to citizenship.

Immigration is a good thing: let’s focus on incenting people t stay within the system, not on keeping peopl eout of the country.

Esurnir November 26, 2008 5:53 PM

@suit: Israel’s border can be watched because you got mens to watch the wall, with all due respect I don’t think we’ll have enough men to watch over thousands of kilometer of desert lands if we build a wall, we’ll have the immigrant going to the wall, escalade it then cross it like it didn’t even exist, since no one will be able to see them the presence of a wall would be inexistant. Don’t worry about immigrants, right now the news is that they are packing because the us economy is in the shitter. Who knew, we should dump into a recession more often to fight illegal immigration.

As long as the us is spiraling down it’ll remain unattractive, as long as the us is booming, it’ll attract unskilled and skilled worker alike who put their energy to make your life possible. There is a demand for them I don’t see why save to satisfy some xenophobic instinct you would deny them to come here. Of course there are legals ways to come here, but that’s a lottery which can last years, not everyone like to live in a slum, see their bestfriend killed by being a bystander in a gang killing.

The US got work to provide, and they don’t steal the works of american no matter what your favorite conservative mentor says, fact resist the fiercest ideology.

Petter E Retep November 26, 2008 6:29 PM

Backtracking the previous coverage of the stories, I come across the rather remarkable question “Do we need a fence to protect US security?”, sponsored by a group in IOWA called We-Need-A-Fence.

Some of the most productive and valuable bottomland in the US would be expropriated as useless by the fence, and it would require revocation of some treaties with First Nations.

The question that ought to have been asked, “Can a fence protect US security?” goes unasked, and unanswered.

Perhaps, as a compromise, we can just build such a fence around IOWA?

Chronos November 26, 2008 9:16 PM

In a way, it’s too bad that being in this country without permission is a civil code violation instead of a criminal code violation. If it were a criminal violation, then everyone would have the protection of “beyond a reasonable doubt” (i.e. “everyone is an American citizen until and unless the INS can prove otherwise”) instead of just the weaker “preponderance of the evidence” standard that civil courts use. If it were true, it might actually cut against a lot of the post-9/11 “paper identification equals security” stupidity, because then American citizens wouldn’t be so used to the idea that anyone who fails to present two forms of ID and a birth certificate upon demand is automatically up to naughty things.

Anonymous #2 November 26, 2008 10:07 PM

If we use all that money from the border-wall budget and spend it making out economy suck, nobody would want to come here. Problem solved!

Chris S November 26, 2008 11:14 PM

@James Baldwin – I am unimpressed with her ideas. I am not “cautiously optimistic”.

And yet I can quote from my Canadian daily newspaper … “As a border governor, Napolitano has fought to curb illegal immigration but has chosen to target employers who hire illegals rather than building walls at the Mexican border.”

Isn’t this precisely what you think should be done?

Frances November 26, 2008 11:28 PM

WorldNetDaily is the source given for Gov. Napolitano’s comments. Very
interesting site – paranoia writ large. If you believed everything said there, the
U.S. would be overrun by terrorists.

And a fence would cut off all Americans from the Rio Grande valley and
expropriate the property of people who don’t want to give it up.

Munoz November 27, 2008 2:11 AM

Any shoot-to-kill policy would best be directed against those who cannot easily be deported: the employers of the illegals, and their customers for example.

If you were in fear of your life when using certain local businesses, the overall problem would soon be resolved.

Gun use for a better planet: you know it makes sense.

lars November 27, 2008 2:43 AM

Concerning “Berlin Wall”-Comparisons: it is not the wall that makes something former “East Germany”-alike. What makes it similar is the intention to jail in whole populations. We may argue on whether “keeping them out” is, in a topological way, the same as “keeping them in”, but neither Europe nor the USA have bragging rights for their humane behavior at their borders.

Concerning 49-foot ladders: Agree, static security measures will be met easily by adaption. And for anybody trying to outlaw certain ladders, remember that the one thing that is characteristic for a border is, that you only have jurisdiction on one side. That makes it still absolutely lawful to even lean a 60-foot ladder against the wall, at least from the other side.

Probably it is simply impossible to stay humane and live off the 3rd-world’s labor – which might be the reason why such strange security measures are thought at all.

Clive Robinson November 27, 2008 3:07 AM

With regards to walls, fences and the like they have a cost not just in money but in manpower and peoples mental outlook.

Appart from the fact that they are just an ineffective extension of Bruce’s Fifty Foot Stake in the Ground Security, historicaly they have been shown not to work once they are beyond a certain size in relation to how quickly support can be deployed (if it takes 10mins to get across your support forces need to be less than 5mins away…).

And in more recent times the monetary cost of such measures has brought down the national economy of those countries that have deployed them (it will be interesting to see if Israel wakes up to this fact or comes cap in hand to the US/IMF for a handout).

In the past the only effective boarders used were natural georgraphical features such as oceans, seas, rivers, cliffs and mountin ranges. But as 9/11 proved even oceans are ineffective as boarders these days.

Then there is the mental cost, if you develop a “fortress mentality” in your people this will reflect badly on their ability to function in a modern world.

The only people who appear to be for such measures either have not thought the idea through or have seen a short term economic or political advantage for themselves in it.

So all the new bod has done is pull their head out of the proverbial and “stated the bleeding obvious”.

Although not a bad sign it neither a good sign for the future as modern security depends on deploying less than obvious and sometimes quite subtle solutions considerably in advance of a news worthy developing situation, only time will tell if they are good or lucky or neither.

The Imp November 27, 2008 3:11 AM

If you want to know if some such proposal is a good idea or not, all you have to do is extrapolate hat would happen if you applied it in every equivalent case. It’s called “taking it to the logical extreme”.

In this case, the logical extreme is killing anyone who breaks a law. Also, by extension, anyone who ever has broken any law (demonstrating that if they might once, they might again). And also, anyone who could break a law in the future (if the law alone had the power to prevent that, it would have, hence, the law itself is not a device capable of enforcing itself). There is no question that it would solve the problem we are discussing (and a few others, if equally applied), and yet the principal is clearly not workable.

Clive Robinson November 27, 2008 3:42 AM

On re-reading my above I noticed that,

“But as 9/11 proved even oceans are ineffective as boarders these days.”

Did not convay the thought that inspired it.

It needs,

s/boarders/people restricting borders/

Clive Robinson November 27, 2008 6:27 AM

One other thing to think about,

What purpose does the wall/fence/border server?

That is what is the USA trying to protect?

I suspect your answer will depend on where you are in the world.

As often gets pointed out there is the 90/10 rule, that is (supposadly) 90% of the worlds wealth is owned by 10% of the worlds population…

On hearing that statistic can you blaim the other 90% of the worlds population for thinking that the “streets are paved with gold” and to get some of the wealth all they have to do is go and work for it, afterall it’s what the “American dream” promises…

The silly thing is as has been pointed out by other posters it’s not as though the US (or other parts of the 10%ers world) are overflowing with available labour, and there are two very very worrying statistics,

1, The birth rate in all these countries is noticably smaller than the death rate.

2, The avarage life expectancy in all these countries is rising significantly.

Which means not only is the available workforce decreasing from the bottom so less is being put into the system (taxation, pensions healthcare etc) but the length of time people are taking out of the system is increasing.

There are four broad “home” solutions to this issue,

A, Allow new citizens in the door.

B, Increase the age of retirment by 10-15 years, and likewise cut other (eg healthcare, pensions etc) provision dramaticaly.

C, Start a (forced selective) breeding program where the majority of the older population is forced to do childcare and other necassary (mundane) tasks, to ensure the efficient utilisation of the more able.

D, Terminate the rights / existance of the old / inferm / incapable.

Unless the 10%ers countanance option D (which I think most of them would disagree with as it applies directly to them) then option A, B or C applies as a “home” policy.

Option C oddly is actually a mirror of what tends to happen in third world agrarian village life. However the “forced” and “selective” opptions have been tried in the past in Europe with the various Eugenics programs of the 19th and early 20th centuries. And most where found not to work. Of the few Eugenics programs still in operation (race horse and dog breeding) they have been found due to their “closed stud book” to be geneticaly unhealthy, which is obviously undesirable.

Option B effectivly gaurenties that the standard of living for the 10%ers will drop quickly and effectivly unrecoverably as their economy slows and eventually goes into significant decline well beyond that expected of a significant recession.

Which leaves only option A for a “home” policy, that in the long term has any real chance of sustaining the standard of living in the foreseable future.

So if you are looking only at “home” policies then it kind of favours option A all round which ever way you look at it.

But what of non home or foreign policies, there are several but few are in any way sustainable in even the short term.

For most 10% nations the view has been to keep the other 90% economicaly dependent on them to ensure the supply of natuaral resorces.

However China appears to be doing things (very worryingly) different in Africa. Effectivly they are outsourcing a percentage of their population to Africa as part of infrestructure economic aid.

The strings attached attached to the aid are subtle and involve accepting a significant amount of influance from China. Basicaly China is grooming the African countries into vasale statehood.

That is they are in the short term building up roads, schools, hospitals and other infrestructure in African countries so that the country will become economicaly viable, and in the process adding significant numbers of chinese people to the countries population as managers teachers and others in positions of influance, which in the long term will influance the country into China’s realm of influance.

China has had various vasal nation policies for many years and it ties in with their longterm political thinking. In the past it was with bordering countries which where to be used as “buffer” or “sacrificial” states which would also act as a “Greater wall” around China (think Tibet amongst others).

However where the Chinese perspective had been inwards and the policy simply one of improving/enlarganing the chinease homeland at the vasal states expense, in recent times it has been refocused outward. That is by improving a countries infrastructure with Chinese materials, tools and experianced labour it effectivly turns the country into a willing victim as it forfils the short term goals of the victim countries political leaders and at the same time builds up a significant resident chinese population and by controling jobs and education indoctrinates the existing population to the China view point.

This will in the long term give China at a minimum an economic empire without the expense and burdan of a more traditional empire and as a longterm stratagy it will most likley succeed in making it the premier world nation.

About the only thing that will stop it is if the 10%er countries wake up and stop adopting only short term policies both at home and abroad.

scott November 27, 2008 9:47 AM

Am I the only one thinking that since the ladder forms a hypotenuse, one longer than 51 feet might be desired?

A nonny bunny November 27, 2008 10:01 AM

@ scott

With 51 feet, you can set it up 10 feet from the wall and it’ll still reach the top. That gives a pretty decent and safe angle.

PackagedBlue November 27, 2008 11:33 AM

While 1 upmanship is generally how border security works, a ladder is awkward and expensive.

Far better to dig underground for a cheap wall, or maybe use rock climbing equipement or even tree stakes. These can even be improvised. Point, can be very cheap to defeat.

A wall can make monitoring more expensive and difficult.

A military no mans land with towers and landmines would be more effective, but is unethical.

Finally, all this becomes problematic, when human smugglers enter the game. You just created/expanded a prohibition market. GRR, finding the right cost benefits in an evolving cat and mouse game is complex.

Fred P November 27, 2008 12:24 PM


Yes; that’s why I’m really frustrated that a number of anti-immigration people think that immigration violations are part of the criminal code. Frequently, they also don’t understand exactly what you posted above – that if the goal is to harass and deport immigrants, keeping it under the civil code helps their goals.

I think that if one wants to reduce immigration into a country (legal or otherwise), there are two ways that will get the large-scale market forces to help you, instead of hurt you:

1) Make it more pleasant to live somewhere else (the public works in other countries approach I outline above).
2) Make it less pleasant to live in said country (such as contracting economic growth severely, or having an internal war – I bet that Zimbabwe has few immigration problems at the moment.)

While #2 is occurring to a slight degree in the U.S.A at the moment, it appears to only be scaring off a small percentage of relatively wealthy immigrants. And #2 will typically end up hurting legal immigrants and citizens, pretty much however it’s implemented.

Which is why I favor #1.

Pete Austin November 27, 2008 1:45 PM

@A nonny bunny. You should really use a 51.54 foot ladder for a 50 foot wall.

Yes with 51 feet, you can set it up 10 feet from the wall
But no that’s not “a pretty decent and safe angle”.

A leaning ladder in a good position:
* Is at an angle of 75° – one unit out for every four units up, see good practice in pictures
* Will not move at the bottom, see good practice in pictures
* Stands on a surface that is:
o firm
o level, see good practice in pictures
o clear
o Dry
o not slippery
* Will not move at the top, see good practice in pictures
* Rests on a strong upper resting point (not plastic guttering or a window)
* Has horizontal rungs (use a spirit level)

Clive Robinson November 27, 2008 4:35 PM

@ Pete Austin, A nonny bunny,

“You should really use a 51.54 foot ladder for a 50 foot wall.”

Err No…

To be “safe” for getting over a wall it should be atleast three feet clear of the top of the wall, and preferably five feet. As this allows for the load bend in a light weight ladder.

But then if you are “willey amigo” and don’t want the “fedaralies” being alerted (visually) you want the ladder to not quite reach the top of the wall, and also be light to carry so maybe you’d be looking at an oriental bambo pole ladder.

But I suspect that in practice the real measure used will be “long enough” 😉

Jonadab the Unsightly One November 28, 2008 10:05 AM

Well, duh. A wall is only effective if you patrol it.

Nomin: East Germany was trying to prevent people from leaving, which is not necessarily the same thing, morally, as preventing them from entering. (Umm, they may not have allowed people to enter either, I don’t remember, but it was the ethics of preventing people from leaving that really got the world’s knickers in a twist.) It is reasonable and correct to raise the question of whether it’s ethically okay to shoot people for trying to enter the country, but it’s NOT reasonable to equate this with East Germany’s shooting people for trying to leave. East Germany was effectively holding the entire population as prisoners, and that’s not the same thing as having immigration requirements.

Also, the Berlin wall was fairly effective. Not 100%, of course, but only a fairly small number of people successfully crossed the wall, especially compared to the number who wanted to do so.

Note that I’m not saying a wall between the US and Mexico would be effective or practical, however. It would not be. A wall is only useful if you patrol its entire length all the time, and the US/Mexico border is way too long to patrol. The difference may be quantitative, but it’s also multiple orders of magnitude. The Great Wall of China would be a better comparison, but I suspect any meaningful data on its effectiveness that may have once existed has been long since lost in the mists of unreliably-recorded history, and in any case it was intended to prevent armed invasion by large groups, not immigration by individuals.

Back to the US/Mexico border question…
Just posting a pair of guards every mile would mean something like twenty-five thousand full-time workers, by the time you have three shifts and cover vacations and weekends and such, a supervisor for every dozen guards or so, administrative overhead, training for new guards, and so on. And if you only post a pair of guards every mile, you need significant electronic surveilance to assist them, and fast off-road vehicles, and assorted other paraphenalia. On top of that, they have to be able to call for backup if an organized group with weapons tries to come across. You can’t pull the nearby guards away without exposing sections of the border (which could be exploited easily), so you’ve got to have an additional rather substantial force for that, probably with fast helicopters. You have to pay all of these people enough that a group of fifty or a hundred Mexican would-be immigrants pooling their resources can’t afford a large enough bribe to tempt them (at least in most cases).

The expense would be staggering. People who suggest protecting the border with a wall simply have no conception of how long the border is.

Personally, I think we should negotiate hard with the Mexican government to try to move things toward the point where we could reasonably open the border (like the US/Canada border, more or less). That’s not a realistic solution right now, for various reasons, but I think it should be the long-term goal. Meanwhile, we don’t need to prevent all immigration, just limit the rate. (Exactly how much we need to limit it is a matter for debate, but nobody should be allowed to participate in the debate without showing proof that they’ve at some point received at least a B in a macroeconomics class.)

Jonadab the Unsightly One November 28, 2008 10:18 AM

Here’s another easy attack that demonstrates the uselessness of an unpatrolled or lightly-patrolled wall: 200 would-be immigrants equip themselves with bailing twine and metal hooks, space themselves out at intervals of 25 yards or so (over a length of some two or three miles of the wall), approach the wall at about the same time, throw the hook with the twine attached over the top of the wall, pull back, if it catches, start climbing; if it doesn’t catch, reel it in and try again. Every man for himself, the guards can’t stop us all at once.

snapflash November 29, 2008 1:55 AM

Janet Napolitano ordered photoradar units deployed every twenty miles along Arizona’s major interstates during Thanksgiving week. She is a clear fan of the surveillance state.

Nick Jensen November 29, 2008 3:34 PM

A while back, someone said that deploying Marines on the border with orders to shoot to kill anyone attempting illegal border crossing would somehow violate the idea of not using the nation’s military against its citizens. On the contrary, I can’t think of a more fundamental use of the military. I’m not in favor of slaughter… I just think that illegals should be made legal, preferably before immigrating. Besides, the law is on that side. All that needs to be done is enforce the law.

asdf November 29, 2008 11:21 PM


“And for anybody trying to outlaw certain ladders, remember that the one thing that is characteristic for a border is, that you only have jurisdiction on one side. That makes it still absolutely lawful to even lean a 60-foot ladder against the wall, at least from the other side.”

That’s one reason why walls get built inland of borders. (It also stops the other side from claiming the wall encroaches on their territory.)

Clive Robinson November 30, 2008 1:10 AM

@ asdf,

“That’s one reason why walls get built inland of borders. (It also stops the other side from claiming the wall encroaches on their territory.)”

With the number of historic land disputes in the US I thing they would have to put the wall somwhere around King County in Washington State just to keep the peace 😉

Clive Robinson November 30, 2008 1:41 AM

@ snapflash,

“Janet Napolitano ordered photoradar units deployed every twenty miles along Arizona’s major interstates during Thanksgiving week. She is a clear fan of the surveillance state.”

Much as I might be inclined to agree with you at other times, or if the units where installed permanently, it might have been for another reason such as road safety.

I have only ever once been in the US at thanksgiving, and to be blunt what I saw indicates that the standard of driving drops the closer you get to the holiday date. The number of US citizens making themselves highly visable by speeding, dangerous lane swapping, tailgaiting and other lunatic behavior such as weaving or screaming abuse whilst driving or parking makes me think that the levels of aggression or intoxication are way way adove the norm.

Therefor any and all traffic passivation methods might help save lives at that time.

You would need to give other info to differentiate between unwarrented “surveillance” tactics and over zelous road safety.

I know in the UK the first christmass “Drink Drive” campaigns showed significant donward differences in the reported number of accidents by both the police and the hospital A&E depts, in the areas they where run, which is why they have become an anual feature. This year though the message is more about the wearing of seatbelts, which suggests the campaigns may be driven by A&E statistical informaation.

Clive Robinson December 1, 2008 3:21 AM

@ Jony,

“After Mumbay, the wall will have to be extended all along the beaches to be affective.”

And far enough out to prevent inflatable craft comming around it etc, etc, etc…

Just look at recent history of Cuban’s who made it across on little more than inflated old car inner tubes that were so worn out as to be not considered repairable for use on Cuban roads and dirt tracks.

If there is even the remotest possible way there will be somebody with sufficient motivation to try it again, even if it has killed the hundred or so people who tried before them…

Mister A. December 1, 2008 11:33 AM

A minimal fence, trench, whathaveyou, as a “speed bump” is useful only for its ability to create a delay as people attempt to move over the border.

More useful would be towers, so many per mile, with infrared sensors, etc. Manning them is easy – allow American citizens to do so. Those who care about the situation will do it. Heck, you can even get them a ten dollar bounty for each time they spot someone … and a twenty dollar penalty for false positives. Do about three lines of the towers. You log into a tower at random, preventing coordinated attempts to create “holes” in the defense.

Assuming a tower exists every half-mile, we have several thousand towers, but I believe people would log in and just … scan for illegals.

The old deportation methods, which included stuffing folks on a ship and dropping them off in the middle of Mexico, rather than right across the border, should be resumed.

DNA, tissue typing, retinal scans, and fingerprints should be taken so we can look for repeat offenders.

Fred P December 1, 2008 11:45 AM

@Nick Jenson-

Unless they’re openly armed, I cannot think of a legal justification for your position. Even if we were at war with Mexico, the Geneva Convention IV would still protect civilian immigrants (legal or otherwise) from being shot on sight; see articles 3, 32, and 35.

Heck, even the interment portion (article 42) merely allows for internment “only if the security of the Detaining Power makes it absolutely necessary”.

Furthermore, even the death penalty portion (article 68) has the following: “The penal provisions promulgated by the Occupying Power in accordance with Articles 64 and 65 may impose the death penalty on a protected person only in cases where the person is guilty of espionage, of serious acts of sabotage against the military installations of the Occupying Power or of intentional offenses which have caused the death of one or more persons, provided that such offenses were punishable by death under the law of the occupied territory in force before the occupation began.

The death penalty may not be pronounced against a protected person unless the attention of the court has been particularly called to the fact that, since the accused is not a national of the Occupying Power, he is not bound to it by any duty of allegiance.

In any case, the death penalty may not be pronounced against a protected person who was under eighteen years of age at the time of the offense.”

And, though it shouldn’t bear repeating, a person on U.S. soil is protected by the U.S. Constitution, regardless of what they’re doing. Killing an unarmed civilian on Mexican soil is an act of war. If you’re looking for a legal grey area between the two, I’d look at the international waters that are adjacent to the U.S.A. – I’m less familiar with maritime law (although most, if not all, human rights treaties would still apply).

Fred P December 1, 2008 11:56 AM

@Mister A-

I’m curious what you think that identifying repeat offenders would do; after all, all we’d be able to do in response is deport them slightly quicker.

JohnnyX December 1, 2008 12:43 PM

quoting RH:

You solve the illegal alien problem by making >them prefer to stay in Mexico.

i’m glad you said this. while Napolitano’s shift in attitude may be a welcome change, i’d rather someone recognize that the way to keep people out of the country is NOT to build walls, but to make them want to stay where they are.

that’s not going to be accomplished via an enlightened DHS head. it’ll take an all-inclusive approach by many smart people.

interesting comments here to be sure…

JohnnyX December 1, 2008 12:47 PM

quoting JimFive:

That is, punish the employers. If you do that >then you are left with chasing down the small >group of people coming in for other purposes >(family or smuggling). You then have a much >smaller problem to tackle.

employers should be forced to pay the “illegals” the same wage they pay citizens.

that will take away the demand since illegal labor is less expensive.

Alex December 1, 2008 3:02 PM

What’s with the protectionism all of a sudden? I would expect better from the Free Market Champion of the World…

If US workers are not prepared to work as cheaply as the Mexicans, then the American workers need to work on their competitiveness. It’s survival of the fittest out there!

Free Market über alles!

bob December 2, 2008 10:27 AM

@Jony: What’s Mumbay (I assume you mean Mumbai) have to do with US beaches OR immigration?

@Clive Robinson: How does moving a barrier “out” (I assume that means into deeper water/farther offshore) help alleviate circumnavigation and how does a craft’s inflatability affect its being blocked said barrier?

Rupert H. December 3, 2008 7:48 AM

Move the border North. The border drawn by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo would be thrown out by any modern court, US or international. US Grant said: “one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation. It was an instance of a republic following the bad example of European monarchies, in not considering justice in their desire to acquire additional territory.”

Robert December 3, 2008 1:32 PM

Immigration is intimately linked to free trade. Free movement of goods and services (which includes labor) is the basis for prosperity.

BCP December 8, 2008 11:47 AM

Fences do work! High tech fences work even better. The reason why Gov. Janet Napolitano called out the national guard on the Arizona border was because the border fences being constructed in California and Texas were starting to funnel illegals into the unfenced and unprotected Arizonia and New Mexico desert.
If Pres elect Obama wants to help the economy with “public works projects” he should start with completing one that is already underway the border fence along the southern border.


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