Earlier today, Roy Beck — head of the immigration restrictionist group NumbersUSA — appeared on G. Gordon Liddy’s radio show blasting Republicans who support “amnesty” for wasting their time on poor immigrant voters who will always vote for the “distribution Party.” Towards the end of the interview, Liddy and Beck appeared to agree that one way to fix the nation’s broken immigration system would be to build a double fence along the U.S. – Mexico border similar to the Israeli West Bank barrier:
BECK: You’re not going to get the immigrant vote if you’re a Republican by supporting amnesty. Because most immigrants are poor and poor people — especially when they come from the kind of countries that most of these poor immigrants come from are going to vote for the redistribution party and for bigger government. [...]
LIDDY: I’ve been over to Israel a number of times and they’ve got fences that work.
BECK: You bet.
LIDDY: They’re like Jersey barriers 18 feet high.
BECK: It would be a great thing…the idea was a double fence, you gotta have a double fence. Because the idea was you slow them down getting over the first wall. You’ve got these long distance cameras, they see the people working the first wall. And while they’re getting over the first wall and we’ve got boots on the ground — they’re driving between these two walls. And you either catch them or you get them on the other side of the wall, but that’s the whole idea.
The implication that the U.S. should seek to build a border wall similar to the barrier Israel has constructed is jarring. The United Nations has documented that “it is difficult to overstate the humanitarian impact of the [Israeli] Barrier.” Amnesty International has written that the West Bank barrier violates “international humanitarian law” and has had the effect of turning “Palestinian towns and villages into isolated enclaves, cutting off communities and families from each other, separating farmers from their land and Palestinians from their places of work, education and health care facilities and other essential services.”
Meanwhile, in the U.S., experts have blasted the fencing that’s currently in place along the U.S. – Mexico border and further warned of the negative effects of its expansion. Research has found that the border enforcement is more successful at keeping undocumented immigrants in the U.S. than in persuading them to not come in the first place. U.S. government investigators have indicated that it will cost taxpayers $6.5 billion over the next 20 years to maintain the fencing already in place and the Congressional Research Service estimated in 2007 that building and maintaining a double set of steel fences along 700 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border would add up to $49 billion over the expected 25-year life span of the fence. Meanwhile, Mexicans with no interest in emigrating to the U.S. are largely offended. “Much of the international boundary between the world’s economic superpower and its far poorer neighbor is laden with tension — tension fueled by an unequal, unavoidable and unsettled relationship,” wrote NPR reporter Jason Beaubien after the wall’s construction. Environmentalists have added that more fencing could “spell environmental disaster,” even “the destruction of the borderlands region.”
While poverty is certainly a concern for the two communities, the suggestion that immigrants and Latinos vote for the Party that offers the most handouts isn’t just erroneous, it’s insulting. Ultimately, it was the GOP’s inability to offer anything but enforcement-only solutions backed by angry anti-immigrant rhetoric during the 2007 immigration debate that turned Latino and immigrant voters off from the Republican party in 2008. And if the GOP doesn’t “change its tune,” it may also render the Republican Party obsolete.