Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2122818
 


 



Why a Wall?


Pratheepan Gulasekaram


Santa Clara University School of Law

February 18, 2011

2 U.C. Irvine L. Rev. 147 (2012)

Abstract:     
Initiated with Operation Gatekeeper in the early 1990s, and extended with significant funding by the Secure Fences Act in 2006, the United States has committed itself to physical fortification of its border with Mexico. The stated purpose of the border fence is to eliminate unlawful entry into the United States. Yet, since the initiation of the border fence project, critics and empirical researchers have found the fortification, at best, to be costly and ineffectual in accomplishing its stated goals; at worst, they argue it causes significant death without any deterrence. In the face of this critique, this article theorizes the creation and persistence of a border wall, arguing that several factors unrelated to actual deterrence inexorably provoke the building of a physical border barrier. After first describing the powerful cost-benefit case establishing the disutility of a border fence, the article explains the underlying forces that render such critiques unpersuasive. Instead, the article presents alternative rationales for border wall construction based on incentives for national lawmakers and the federal government that are only marginally related to actual elimination of unlawful entry.

The article then highlights the importance of the wall’s physicality, explaining how its existence alters immigration enforcement and migration discourse in politically, culturally, and legally significant ways. Fundamentally, the border wall naturalizes and normalizes the idea of a national border, thereby facilitating harsh enforcement strategies. Meanwhile, its presence helps generate even more undocumented presence within the country, rendering the wall not only an apparent solution to a perceived problem, but constitutive of the problem itself. Finally, the article queries whether the existence of the border fence at our current historical moment portends the weakening of nation-state boundaries. A physical border barrier, counterintuitively, may be the harbinger of diminished sovereign power, serving more as a warning to the walled-in citizenry of the constructing nation than to putative migrants on the outside.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 46

Keywords: immigration, border, border fence, border wall, illegal immigration

Accepted Paper Series


Download This Paper

Date posted: August 3, 2012  

Suggested Citation

Gulasekaram, Pratheepan, Why a Wall? (February 18, 2011). 2 U.C. Irvine L. Rev. 147 (2012). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2122818

Contact Information

Pratheepan Gulasekaram (Contact Author)
Santa Clara University School of Law ( email )
500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053
United States
408.554.4188 (Phone)
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 378
Downloads: 51
Download Rank: 230,792

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo2 in 0.406 seconds