U.S. takes a cue from the Great Wall, Berlin Wall

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By Benjamin Kwiecien

(Frank Freeman)

By Benjamin Kwiecien

The United States of America-The Land of the Free. It’s impossible to argue that these words aren’t an inseparable part of this nation’s heritage. Many Americans have stood for freedom, and it comes as no surprise that our leaders have constituted some of the loudest voices in its favor.

In 1987, when Ronald Reagan spoke to the people of Berlin, he made a plea for the destruction of the Berlin wall. “The wall cannot withstand freedom,” he said. The wall stood as a divider between two nations, meant to prevent anyone from passing without permission.

Less than a generation later, it comes as somewhat of a surprise how easily these words have been forgotten. Duncan Hunter, chair of the Armed Services Committee in the House of Representatives, is rallying for support of a congressional bill that would start the construction of a 2000 mile wall along the entire border between the United States and Mexico.

This wall is no ordinary wall; it is meant to have two layers and electronic sensors. The wall will feature 25 “official” entry points, which are most likely going to be manned.

One might assume that the purpose of such entry points is to allow people to come and go. But seeing as the majority of the U.S. Mexican border is not well patrolled, the newly added personnel will help keep an eye on outsiders.

Constructing such a barrier will be no simple task. It has been estimated to cost nearly $8 billion. After construction, additional money will be needed for employment and maintenance of the wall.

It’s surprising that this initiative is coming from what has been seen as America’s conservative party, one that represents a political tradition that is highly critical of government spending.

There is one legitimate reason the wall may not be effective; many illegal residents simply enter the United States legally and continue to stay after their visas have expired.

Also, a move like this does not speak favorably of how the United States feels about its neighbors; seldom are such extreme measures taken to divide two nations, and when the Soviet Union did it, Ronald Reagan had a lot to say against it.

This is the same Reagan who was cited in the Republican Party’s 2004 platform-a platform that champions the United States as a place where “all people are guaranteed equal rights and the opportunity to pursue their dreams.”

I suppose it’s reasonable to have immigration laws, and if there are such laws, then a society governed by law would be expected to enforce them as best it can.

If that is the case, however, then perhaps our politicians should consider double checking the consistency of their public statements.

After all, it would be trivial for the Republican Party to clarify its platform by changing the words “all people” to “certain” people.

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