Saturday, April 29, 2006

A Perfect Storm on the US-Mexican Border as Drug and Immigration and Terror Wars Converge

This week, the US Senate voted to divert nearly $2 billion dollars from the Iraq war effort and instead use the money to beef up enforcement efforts along the US-Mexican border. Driven by the explosive emergence of the immigration issue as immigrants and their supporters took to the streets in massive numbers to block a House bill that many have criticized as draconian, the move is only the latest in a long line of efforts to secure the borders.

Mexican anti-drug patrols
The border is a symbolic security blanket for Americans, the place where they can draw a line in the sand, where they can mark boundaries to protect them from their fears and desires. Yes, desires. Drugs may be illegal, but they come across the border because Americans want them. Similarly, people sneaking into the country to provide cheap labor may be illegal, but they come across the border because Americans want them. In millions of individual decisions every day, Americans vote for more drugs and more undocumented workers, while at the same time screaming for more border security.

Now, a perfect storm of bogeymen -- Drugs! Terrorists! Mexicans! -- is threatening to unleash a new wave of increased law enforcement on the border. According to border rights activists, academics, and drug reformers, increased law enforcement on the border may put a slight crimp in undocumented immigration, but won't stop the drug traffic -- and it will lead to more abuses, more violence in the desert, and a strengthening of the trend toward increased surveillance of all of us.


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