National Public Radio (NPR), a news outlet that has run countless reports pooh-poohing the idea of border security fences, aired a piece on the February 28 edition of “All Things Considered,” conceding the fact that they are. The admission was made in a deceptively titled report, “’No More Deaths’ Volunteers Face Possible Jail Time for Aiding Migrants,” in which it attributed the increasingly perilous routes being used by illegal migrants to stepped up border enforcement. “Over the past several decades, migrants have turned to more rugged parts of the border to cross, driven there by a larger border patrol, and more miles of border fencing,” stated reporter Joel Rose.
The “eleven-foot ladder industry” that critics have been assuring us would flourish in response to the construction of ten-foot high border fences hasn’t exactly materialized. What it has done, is redirected migrants to more remote and more dangerous areas of the border – and that needs to stop, by construction of more ten-foot fences and other deterrents.
If there is one thing all sides in the immigration debate can agree on, is that no one should be dying in the desert attempting to enter the United States. For the open borders advocates, that means, well…open borders. For others, that means making it clear to would-be illegal border-crossers that there is no point in trekking across hostile terrain because it will just lead to more Border Patrol agents, more technology, more secure border fencing, and effective interior enforcement against those who do enter illegally.
As for the report’s sensational headline that people are being jailed for “aiding migrants” in peril by placing water and food along remote trails favored by smugglers, that too turns out to be less than advertised. As Rose’s report notes, there is a thin line between aiding migrants, and enticing migrants to risk their lives by making the dangerous journey. As one of the No More Deaths volunteers, a man described as “an experienced climber and backpacker,” said, “I would not be able to do this journey. It is impossible in the summertime to carry enough water,” adding that if dehydration doesn’t get you, hypothermia and any number of poisonous snakes and lizards might.
Also, getting beyond the suggestion that people are being persecuted for attempting to help desperate migrants, the NPR report makes it clear that they, and the Border Patrol, both have the same goal: saving lives. “I think they mean well,” said Art Del Cueto, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, the union that represents Border Patrol agents, and an frequent guest at FAIR’s Hold Their Feet to the Fire radio row. “We respond to a lot of calls of illegal aliens in stressful situations, tough medical situations. And we’re the ones that are properly equipped to go out there and save them.”
Unfortunately, as we have all been taught, there is an important difference between meaning well and doing good. Besides giving people false hope that they can make the dangerous journey, “some of the supplies they leave wind up in the hands of drug smugglers and human traffickers,” Del Cueto explains.
So, perhaps the best answer to a situation that has arisen from secure fencing in easily traversed sections of the border is “more miles of fencing” (and other measures) in areas of the border that everyone agrees people should not go.