In the essay “The Fence of Lies” the author Mario Vargas Llosa’s thesis is that the border fence between Mexico and the United States is a bad idea and a waste of taxpayer’s money. Some of the main points he uses to strengthen his argument are that it is purely a political ploy to get officials re-elected, that the fence is far too costly and the construction will never happen, and the money should be spent elsewhere. In addition, we should allow immigrants an open door policy into our country because of the immense contribution they make to our economy and that they are willing to do the jobs that most Americans will not. Vargas Llosa’s most compelling argument is that the fence will do nothing at all to stop the flow of illegal immigrants into this country and the environmental impact it will have.
Although, the Author brings up some valid points, I think that there are some definite weaknesses in his claim as well as issues that he did not even mention. Even though I am in favor of the fence, I feel that he could have done a better job convincing readers of his point had he focused on why the fence will not work and the environmental impact it will have, instead of confusing the matter with whether or not immigration is moral.
Vargas Llosa begins his essay with the statement that the proposal of this fence is purely a “theatrical show” because on 7 November, there will be elections to renew the House of Representatives and part of Congress and that even if the bill passes they will never build it (2). As to the question of if will be put up, we know now that the fence is almost completely erected. Immigration was a hot political topic at the time and still is; I am sure that the politicians considered this, as it was a valid idea to control the border. In every poll, that I can find, the majority of Americans are for tougher border patrol, even people who are for giving these immigrants a path to citizenship.
One of the main points the author makes is that these are hardworking people who are just trying to create better opportunities for themselves and their families by coming to this Land of Opportunity, taking jobs that Americans are unwilling to do, and that we should not impede them of that chance. He uses an example of this woman Emerita, who emigrated from Guatemala and started up a housecleaning business, through hard work and persistence, is making $96,000 dollars a year. He does not say if she is legal now, but uses this as a generalization of the type of people we are denying into our country by not having an open border.
I do not believe that this woman portrays the average migrant worker in our country. Most work for less than minimum wage, have no benefits, and do not pay taxes, which; are the main reasons Americans are unwilling to work those jobs, not because they are afraid of hard work as Vargas Llosa implies. In addition, he does not mention the gunrunners, drug smugglers and possible terrorists who would all have free access in or out of our country as well. Immigration into our country is a privilege for these people not a right, so why should we, as Americans, not have the right to be selective about who we let in?
As an alternative to this point, Vargas Llosa states that if we wish to stop this flow of people into our country then we should use that “6 billion” (1) dollars to create jobs and try to stimulate opportunities south of the border. This statement is a bit of a stretch considering that the U.S. went into a recession shortly after the writing of this essay and our unemployment surged to over 10%. First, I know $6 bn is a lot of money, but how many jobs can it possibly create when you are talking about 21 countries in Latin America? Where do we even begin to help and is it really our problem? Why should the taxpayers of the America be responsible for an undertaking of that size and is it even possible? I think these are reasonable questions to ask oneself and if looked at logically will find this a ridiculous proposal that has no validity. Another argument Vargas Llosa made, that “if, by some miracle, it is built, it will serve for absolutely nothing” (1).
He also says in the conclusion of his essay that the “cement monstrosity would soon be as full of holes as Swiss cheese” (11) saying that the fence would not even obstruct migrants determined to get across. He makes a point of saying that the fence would only cover a portion of the border, leaving 1200 miles of open frontier through which people could easily pass over. Well, that is true, however, in those areas where there is not any fence, there are natural obstacles such as large, desolate stretches of desert or mountains with no cities close by to take refuge. All of the major ports of entry are included in the fenced area, which provides at least a moderate obstacle when it comes to illegal crossing. As for the damaging alterations that will happen over time, such as, holes cut into it, sensors could be added in the ground and or in the fence, plus routine patrols done for visual inspection. To say that the fence would do “absolutely nothing” is much too definitive in my opinion. He would have had better effect on me had he developed more along the lines of, the benefits of the fence are minimal since it does not even cover the whole border and then used some specific, compelling details to back that up. Lastly, the most valid point the author makes is one in which he developed the least. The environmental impacts this fence would have on the native communities grazing and farm land, certain species migration and feeding patterns, and on the conservation land it cuts through.
The amount of time spent to study the impacts on the wetlands of the Rio Grande valley and the several endangered species that inhabit the affected area was much too short to make any scientific judgments. Not to mention the effects the actual construction process will have on these species and areas. There are several Wildlife Refuges and Audubon Sanctuaries where the fence is slated to cross. I think that if Vargas Llosa would have spent more time developing these ideas with good solid facts, it would have appealed my emotional senses much more than the story of Emerita whom seemingly had nothing to do with whether or not we should build fence.
The environmental costs of this project seem heavy, are ones not easily reversed. Politics may have played a factor here, as the reason for the inadequate amount of research involved determining the environmental effects the fence will have. In conclusion, I have covered most of the major points that Vargas Llosa presented in his essay, pointed out the weaknesses in his argument and ways in which he could have strengthened it. Most of the points he focused on had to do with immigration instead of issues related directly with the fence.
Had he focused more on the actual impacts of the fence it would have been a much more compelling case. I do not think that immigration is bad, as long as there is control over it. If the border fence can help our officials to gain at least some control over who and what is actually coming into and out of our country than it should prove to be a valuable tool to create better immigration policies and eliminate the unwanted elements associated with it.
(6) The Environmental Impacts of the Border Wall Between Texas and Mexico Lindsay Eriksson1 and Melinda Taylor2