The Soviets’ Berlin Wall was designed to keep East Germans from sneaking out. Our Barrio Barricade is to keep Mexicans from sneaking in, but a wall works both ways and would be just as effective in keeping Americans from sneaking into Mexico.
That’s not much of a threat now. The things that tempt Mexicans to sneak into the United States — our stronger economy, our stable political system, our personal security — are precisely the things that induce Americans not to sneak into Mexico.
But, who’s to say things couldn’t change?
Mexico’s economy is growing. Its political system, having tossed out the old, corrupt ruling party before warily allowing it back in, is maturing. Security is still problematic. Headless corpses on the sidewalk are a nuisance, but the cocaine trade will wither, along with the cartels and their violence, as Americans turn from cocaine to Made-in-the-USA designer drugs.
America’s economy is limping. We are recovering from the Great Recession, but global competition suggests that our best days may be behind us. Our political system is showing signs of wear, and economic decline will intensify partisan battles. If the NRA continues to hold sway and the evening news becomes Gunfight at the OK Corral, who’s to say our body-count of tomorrow won’t rival Mexico’s of today?
The Recession, which significantly reduced illegal Mexican immigration, showed that it wouldn’t take much to tilt this see-saw toward the south. What if:
The Chinese and other economic tigers, looking for cheap labor and tariff-free access to American markets, poured investment into Mexico that lured our Mexicans home?
Our economy collapsed because, with Mexicans gone, American workers exhausted their labors shoveling their own sidewalks, mowing their own lawns, even picking their own grapes?
Young American graduates who couldn’t find jobs here and New Yorkers, forced to flee rising sea-levels, saw work, or simply dry land, beckoning just across the border?
Mexico decided it had to protect its workers against cheap American labor, its hard-won security against flouters of the law, and the purity of its language and culture against the coarse, mono-lingual northerners?
What if our good fence does not, after all, make good neighbors, or even good policy?