Archive for the ‘Immigration’ Category

We all hope we’re wrong about climate change

This is not something that is made explicit enough, or made explicit often enough. This story brought the point to mind:

Europe’s leaders are being warned to prepare for big new flows of migration by 2020 as climate change puts strains on food and water supplies, provokes natural disasters and undermines political stability in poorer, neighboring countries.

A report prepared for the European Union heads of government, who will meet Thursday in Brussels, said that the rest of the world could not insulate itself from the impact of changes that could overwhelm regions that already suffer from poverty and conflict.

In North Africa and the sub-Sahara, drought and overfarming could lead to a loss of 75 percent of arable land. The Nile Delta could be threatened by both rising sea levels and salinization of agricultural land. Between 12 and 15 percent of arable land could be lost to rising seas in this century with five million people affected by 2050. Meanwhile, both the Horn of Africa and southern Africa are vulnerable to reduced rainfall and higher temperatures.

Sounds shit, frankly – worse only for the people doing the moving (I meant shit for me, living in the Midlands of England). This is just a number of all-too-likely consequences of all-too-likely catastrophic climate change, and is exactly why those of us who believe in the problem would like very much to be wrong. I’m happy to have colleagues (known but not named) to call me up once per week for the remainder of my life, giving me stick about my Henny Penny paranoia – if only it meant that none of this misery will come to pass. Somehow, though, I doubt it.

Meanwhile, some war predictions:

There’s also the water one cannot drink – China and the US over the West Pacific, for example. There also are plenty of instances of good and neighbourly management of the scarce resource, but as the resource becomes more scarce still, who knows? We could see Adelaide go to war with Melbourne, for all I know.

There are also plenty of voices who say that the probabilities just don’t match the rhetoric. Could be. I see, though, water the new land – the fixed and needed natural resource of the future, over which we will be prepared to fight long and hard. Because our lives just might depend upon it. Which, sure, makes me a miserable bastard. Like I said, I do hope we all turn out to be plain wrong.


Project 28/Secure Border Initiative evaluation: all cost, no effect

So says BusinessWeek.

Among Project 28’s problems: Wind and rain affect the cameras’ image quality. Radar has been unable to distinguish between mesquite bushes and clusters of people or animals. In early tests, the laptops in the patrol cars couldn’t take the jostling of rough terrain. And Boeing has had trouble bundling infrared images, radar scans, and ground sensor readings so that they reach the Border Patrol in time for agents to pursue targets. “It blows the mind, the issues they’ve had,” says Rosso. Boeing’s Bosick says the glitches have been “ironed out.”

Do fences ever work on borders anywhere? The threat of lethal force makes sealed-off borders such as the DMZ between the Koreas and the Palestinian-Israeli barrier highly unusual cases. Along the Strait of Gibraltar and around the Canary Islands, Spain built a chain of high-tech radar stations to deter migration from Africa—only to watch illegal-immigrant traffic flow to other sea lanes.

Ordinary Mexicans, meanwhile, seem unfazed by all the efforts to wall them out. Ramiro, who didn’t want to give his surname, is a 21-year-old born in the Mexican state of Guerrero. He was deported from Arizona in mid-January after police pulled his sister’s van over for expired license plates and discovered he was there illegally. Ramiro has lived in Phoenix since he was 7, and he has no intention of staying in Mexico, where he feels out of place. Scarfing down beans and rice at a charity shelter for migrants in Nogales, Mexico, Ramiro says he plans to head back to the U.S. in a couple of days. What about the new fence and a beefed-up Border Patrol? “I’ll just find a path around the fence, or I’ll climb it at night,” he says, shrugging. “There’s always a way to get around obstacles.”

Sure enough, three days later, Ramiro leaves Nogales at 3 a.m., walks just west of a new section of fence under construction, and in five hours reaches the town of Rio Rico, Ariz., where that night he hops a freight train for Phoenix. Time elapsed: 26 hours. “Mexican ingenuity,” says Ramiro, laughing, when contacted on a friend’s mobile phone. That’s ingenuity even the powerful U.S. cannot fence out.

Ouch. Of course, the fence is a typical solution for our political era: the appearance of action without the least bit of substance by way of a solution – mostly because the action has little if anything to do with the true problem.

The bigger problem may be those who don’t bother with tunnels and ladders. Immigration specialists estimate that one-third to one-half of undocumented migrants in the U.S. didn’t scale any border fence. They are believed to have entered the country legally and then just overstayed their visas.

Some critics, including former Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda, think the rise in patrols and fence-building has actually encouraged unauthorized migrants to put down permanent roots in the U.S.—these Mexicans dare not travel home and run the risk of capture while trying to cross back north.

“We have more boots and binoculars down at the border than we’ve ever had, yet we have a larger immigrant population than ever before,” says Angela M. Kelley, director of the Immigration Policy Center, a pro-immigration Washington think tank.

Think of it from the perspective of the Mexican immigrant: the risk of death on the trip is real, but relatively low. To the extent that the risk of capture is greater (if in fact it is), the consequence is return. To start again. I am not suggesting we bring lethality into the consequence box of the equation, no. I’m suggesting that we recognise that, for illegal immigrants, the cost-benefit analysis almost always results in the attempt being worthwhile.

Alternatively, would a bloody fence have held back the people on the Mayflower?