In Defense Of The Fence

Ilana Mercer, April 4, 2008

Environmental lobbies abhor all by-products of human existence, unless generated by illegal aliens. In that case, the vast latrine and land fill created along the border with Mexico, as millions of illegals defecate and despoil their way to their destinations in the US, are just dandy.

To interfere with the natural formation of this outsized outhouse is to “jeopardize the quality of life and beauty of South Texas.” Or so implied the president of the National Audubon Society. He was protesting the decision, late in the day, of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to “expeditiously install additional physical barriers and roads at the border to deter illegal activity.”

Chertoff, a Bush boy—and therefore a Johnny-come-lately to the idea of a border—has been under pressure from a few of the barrier’s congressional backers. They worry that environmental restrictions would postpone construction indefinitely. Quick on the trigger, the Sierra Club bleated that the Bush administration was threatening “endangered species and fragile ecosystems along the Rio Grande.”

That the human inhabitants along the border are the worse for wear has never mattered much. Drug-trade related turf wars between gangs, brazen assaults on border patrolmen by invaders (often aided by American officials), and kidnappings—these are considered eco-friendly.

Like environmentalists, politicians generally privilege flora and fauna over folks. (NIMBYs excepted. Senator Edward Kennedy is a not-in-my-backyard environmentalist: he opposes wind farms in Nantucket Sound, offshore from his Hyannis Port compound.)

Thankfully, a handful of Congress members concluded that the tsunami of trespassers is worse for the environment than the fence itself. So they pressed on. On second thought, scrap that. This is an election year. Republicans have probably figured out that if they fail to secure the border, conservatives will stay home.

To that end, the Department of Homeland Security proceeded to waive certain environmental laws for various project areas in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, so as to begin completing, this time apparently in earnest, the 700 miles of fencing mandated by the Secure Fence Act.

The Act was forced on the ruling class in 2006 by a passionately non-partisan American public, sick and tired of the farce on the southwest front. Naturally, after the primping and preening that accompanies the signing of a bill into law just prior to midterm elections, the politicians promptly side-stepped the popular will.

Deadlines came and went. Two-tiered fencing morphed into a single tier, and 700 miles were whittled down to 370, of which only between five and 70 were initially erected, as a token. Legal challenges from environmental lobbies were indulged; and legal aid to the attorneys of illegal aliens authorized. Brave border patrolmen were incarcerated for refusing to fold like the fence.

If ever asked by the pulp-press (fat chance), Clinton and Obama will respond as though the Bill of Rights has been suspended. It hasn’t. In a free society, rooted in private property rights, land owners along the border would have likely formed militias to repel trespassers from their land. In an unfree society, it falls to the state to simulate that protection, while compensating the few who reject it. Indeed, as the Chicago Tribune has reported, “the waivers will not affect the legal battles between the Homeland Security Department and private landowners.”

Who knows how McCain—a recent convert to conservatism—might respond? I have a vague idea how he should not respond: McCain might consider modifying his mantra about illegal aliens being God’s children to whom he owes a path to citizenship. This is not about the Arizonan’s relationship with God and His creatures; it’s about McCain’s relationship with the Constitution.

The Constitution binds a president to uphold the law; it doesn’t authorize him to legislate compassion. In the event he is elected, McCain could very well choose to exercise the plenary power of pardon granted to the president. But conferring political rights on millions of scofflaws—that would be an enormous abuse of presidential power.

Crunchy cons and assorted Republicans for unfettered immigration will concur with Hillary and Hussein in protesting even a temporary suspension of the Environmental Protection Agency’s many fettering laws. They should not be given the time of day. The EPA is an incontinent legislator, as are most government departments.

That the government has used its discretionary waiver authority to temporarily suspend a few of its countless “land management” laws, never vetted by voters, is no tragedy. In fact, government should waive more superfluous regulations if this means fulfilling its one constitutionally mandated function: defending the nation’s borders.

The Constitution trumps the “rights” of critters.

©2008 By Ilana Mercer
April 4

*Image credit

CATEGORIES: Constitution, Environmentalism, Immigration, John McCain, Nation & Nationhood, Property Rights