To the American public itÆs a 2,000-mile-long project to keep illegal immigrants, narcotics, and terrorists on the other side of the U.S.ûMexico border. In the deserts of Arizona, itÆs a ôvirtual fenceö of high-tech electronic sensors, cameras, and radar. In some border stretches itÆs a huge concrete-and-steel wall; in others itÆs a series of solitary posts designed to stop drug runners; in still others itÆs rusted barbed-wire cattle fences. For two-thirds of the international boundary itÆs nonexistent.
Just what is this entity known as ôthe fenceö? And more important, is it working? Through first-person interviews with defense contractors, border residents, American military, Minutemen, county officials, Customs and Border Protection agents, environmental activists, and others whose voices have never been heard, Robert Lee Maril examines the projectÆs human and financial costs. Along with MarilÆs site visits, his rigorous analysis of government documents from 1999 to the present uncovers fiscal mismanagement by Congress, wasteful defense contracts, and unkept political promises.
As drug violence mounts in border cities and increasing numbers of illegal migrants die from heat exhaustion in the Arizona desert, Maril argues how the fence may even be making an incendiary situation worse. Avoiding preconceived conclusions, he proposes new public policies that take into consideration human issues, political negotiation, and the need for compromise.
MarilÆs lucid study shows the fence to be a symbol in concrete, steel, microchips, and fiber optics for the crucible of contemporary immigration policy, national security, and public safety.
In corporate boardrooms, government offices, Border Patrol agentsÆ pickup trucks, and the homes and workplaces of borderland residents, Maril exposes the motivations and costs submerged beneath media-driven immigration rhetoric. After you read The Fence, it is impossible to think of immigration policy in the same way again. ùDavid Cunningham, Brandeis University, author of There's Something Happening Here: The New Left, the Klan, and FBI Counterintelligence
Timely and eloquently written . . . a must-read for anyone who hopes to understand one of the most complex and pressing issues in America. ùTomßs R. JimΘnez, Stanford University, author of Replenished Ethnicity: Mexican Americans, Immigration, and Identity