Fences don’t make good neighbors

Los Angeles Times 10 July 2006

The billboard photographed here is located in Atlanta, home of a large and growing Mexican population. It’s hard to imagine this type of public display fostering any type of neighborly relations between the Mexicans who have settled permanently Atlanta and their U.S.-born neighbors.

As the senate continues to debate immigration reform, on Monday afternoon the hearings finally shifted from discussions of faceless masses to the experiences of real Americans. As he recalled the experiences of his immigrant family, General Peter Pace broke down during his testimony. Nearly everyone present agreed that immigrants make wonderful contributions to our society. According to Washington Post, General Pace’s comments moved several members of Congress. What effect his and other similar testimony will have in shaping immigration law is uncertain.

For too long we in the U.S. have thought of immigration as a one-way issue (i.e., they come here). Is it any less likely that Americans who retire in Mexico and Central America are “invaders,” particularly in communities where their numbers are such that they could “take over” the communities where they live?

Regardless of how threatening one finds immigrant settlement, we still have to live together (let’s face it, border fence or no, most of the immigrants who are here are planning to stay).


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