Blaming Canada and how good fences make good neighbors

By Sujay Kumar

Oh Canada, our friendly neighbor up north. From the beaches of Normandy to Shania Twain, the Canadians have always been a loyal friend of the United States. What better way to return this neighborly love then by constructing a 15-foot-high, 5,500-mile-long, steel mesh, barbed wire-covered fence along the border?

A fence would provide security to the United States from those trying to sneak in from Canada to spread terror or work illegally.

Eh? Are the Canadians a threat to the United States? Our friends in Mexico haven’t taken too much offense regarding the proposed fence for their border. But then again, they also have had no say in the issue.

In the Secure Fence Act of 2006, the Department of Homeland Security announced that within 18 months, surveillance technology and personnel would be improved to ensure full control over all of our borders. The bill also approved the construction of a 700-mile fence along the Mexican border.

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox has compared the proposed fence to the Berlin Wall. Rocky Balboa himself (Sylvester Stallone) has said that nations should be able to interact without walls. Seems simple enough, but it’s never that easy.

The symbolism of a fence or a wall has always been a loaded idea.

The Berlin Wall separated communism from capitalism. The Great Wall of China was built to keep the Huns out. The Israel security fence was made to defend against violence.

So if there’s a fence between Mexico and the United States, shouldn’t there be one for the Canadians?

Less than five percent of the estimated 20 million illegal immigrants who currently reside in the United States hail from Canada while 57 percent are from Mexico, according to a study by the Pew Research Center. On the other hand, the United States’ border with Canada is almost three times the size of the Mexican border, which means more possible entry points. Furthermore, Canada has actually had some recent terrorist threats.

As for funding a fence with Canada, it would cost more than a few loonies to finish the project. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the proposed 700-mile fence with Mexico will cost about $2.2 billion. That’s roughly $3.2 million per mile. The Canadian border is 5,500 miles. Throw in the exchange rate and Alex Trebek would cringe at the cost.

Imagine what the border between Montana and Saskatchewan would look like if the United States were able to overcome these obstacles and build a fence.

In my plan, the barrier separating the state and province would be a 15-foot-tall triple fence. The first would be made of military airplane landing mats that are welded together. Steel mesh and concrete pillars compose the second layer. Between these two sections, there would be a constantly monitored, 150-foot no man’s land.

The third fence would consist of linked chains covered with barbed wire. Of course, such an ambitious fence would require many, many guard towers equipped with the latest in flashlight technology. Several helicopters would constantly be patrolling the sky while hundreds of troops monitor the ground.

Soon there will be motion detectors, heat sensors and seismic activity trackers as part of the “Virtual Fence” initiative that utilizes military technology to safeguard the homeland.

Sound too far-fetched for a border with Canada? It’s true that this idea doesn’t seem to mesh with the American ideal of an open society. In reality, it’s a description of the 10-mile border between San Diego and Tijuana that exists today.

It’s obvious that problems exist with illegal immigration and homeland security, but we should look past that. Forget all the statistics and loud opinions for a moment and look at what a fence really is: a barrier between two sides. Robert Frost wrote a poem about neighbors and borders.

Maybe the United States should take his advice:

“Before I built a wall I’d ask to know / What I was walling in or walling out, / And to whom I was like to give offence.”