Through sheer happenstance (or perhaps just plain bad luck), I found myself on the University of Arizona campus last week. In case you missed it, the university allowed some people (who have much higher morals and purer motives than any of the rest of us) to erect a fence that ran the length of the UA mall.
According to the UA Center for Latin American Studies website, "The purpose of this mock border wall/fence is to interrupt the UA campus community's freedom of movement across the mall in order to dramatize the effects of US (sic) immigration and border enforcement policies which (sic) dramatically limit access to safe transit across the US/Mexico border."
Yeah, real subtle.
The group No Mas Muertes (No More Deaths) put up the fence, though for the life of me, I can't imagine why the UA would let them do it. I got an e-mail from a friend who is fairly well-known in local liberal politics, and he had hit the ceiling. He has a daughter attending the UA, and he's paying full tuition for her. He said that he called the university and said, "I'm paying nearly $10,000 a year for my daughter to go to school, and she's late for class because you allow some (jackasses) to put up a fence to try to make some ridiculous political point?!" (He didn't really use the term "jackasses," but rather a slang term involving a different, but nearby, body part. But only on males.)
What bothered me most was not having to walk around the fence (Lord knows I can always use the exercise), but the fact that it's such a crap argument. It starts off with a completely false premise and then tries to bolster itself with imaginary cinder blocks of obfuscation and unwarranted sentimentality.
You see, as an American citizen, I have the right to walk from the Bear Down Gym to the Student Union. However, neither Mexican citizens nor their U.S. counterparts have the automatic "right" to unlimited safe transit across the United States/Mexico border. Where does that idea even come from?
Now, if you're one of those people who sincerely believe that there should be no fences, no walls and no borders, and that we should all live in a Star Trek world where people wear Under Armour-like clothing that resists wrinkles and never has sweat stains, with a one-world government centered in, of all places, San Francisco, then we have nothing else to discuss. Live long and prosper, and please realize that by the 24th century, San Francisco will probably be a part of the Aleutian Islands.
However, if you live in the real world with the rest of us, I'd really like an explanation. Or, answer this: What if, instead of Mexico on our southern border, we had North Korea or Somalia? Would you still be chanting for safe transit across the border? I don't think so.
Let me make it clear: The time for serious immigration reform in this country is long overdue. It's been a quarter-century since Ronald Reagan (yes, Ronald Reagan!) pushed through an amnesty bill that should have been the last word on the matter. But over the next couple of decades, whiners on the left and cheap-labor exploiters on the right combined to allow millions more people to flood over the border, creating the mess that we have now. And yes, it is a mess.
With technology being what it is today, we should be able to cut the cumbersome legal-immigration procedure down from several years to just a few months. We could become a beacon for the world, both in terms of humanitarianism and responsibility.
I wouldn't care if every single law-abiding person in Mexico chose to live here, leaving behind a big old parking lot ... with drug cartels. As long as they go through our spiffy new streamlined process, let 'em come and invigorate this place. (There would have to be a couple of exceptions, like, for example, a Typhoid Mary type who could do a whole lot of damage just through his/her presence in the country.)
However (and this is the part that some people just don't get), I don't understand why it's wrong to treat people who committed an illegal act like people who committed an illegal act. What am I supposed to teach my kids or their kids or any other kid who might benefit from some guidance? That it's OK to ignore rules and break laws as long as you have a really, really good excuse? That's nonsense, and it's indefensible.
Finally, congratulations on the choice of the name "No More Deaths." That's clever along the lines of anti-abortion people calling themselves "pro-life." If people honestly disagree with your overreaching policy, does that mean that they're in favor of more deaths? Or even the same number of deaths?
Maybe there are people who don't want any more deaths in the desert, but at the same time believe that there should be rules and laws. Maybe they'd be willing to listen to your argument if you weren't so damned pontificating and self-righteous. Or perhaps they'd just like to walk across a college campus that their taxes and tuition help pay for without having a simplistic political philosophy shoved down their throats.