So, was Frost right? Do good fences make good–or at least, improved–neighbors? We may get a chance to find out.
Here’s a very interesting perspective from today’s NY Times, on the effect of a possible US/Mexico fence on Mexican policy itself:
“To build, or not to build, a border of walls? The debate in the United States has started some Mexicans thinking it is not such a bad idea….
The old blame game — in which Mexico attributed illegal migration to the voracious American demand for labor and accused lawmakers of xenophobia — has given way to a far more soul-searching discussion, at least in quarters where policies are made and influenced, about how little Mexico has done to try to keep its people home.
For too long, Mexico has boasted about immigrants leaving, calling them national heroes, instead of describing them as actors in a national tragedy,” said Jorge Santibáñez, president of the College of the Northern Border. “And it has boasted about the growth in remittances” — the money immigrants send home — “as an indicator of success, when it is really an indicator of failure.”
Indeed, Mr. Fox — who five years ago challenged the United States to follow Europe’s example and open the borders and then barely protested when President Bush announced plans to deploy troops — personifies Mexico’s evolving, often contradictory attitudes on illegal immigration.
Gabriel Guerra, a political analyst, said the presidential election in July and the negotiations over immigration reform in Washington have put Mr. Fox on unsteady political terrain…
Analysts said it was unlikely that Mr. Fox would ever speak publicly in favor of a wall. But in recent communications to Washington, his government, as well as leaders of all Mexican political parties, have hinted about building walls of their own.
Last March, in a document published in three of America’s largest daily newspapers, including The New York Times, the Mexican government, along with leaders of the political establishment and business community, explained its position on immigration reform.
In that document, the Fox government said that if the United States committed itself to establishing legal channels for the flow of immigrant workers, Mexico would take new steps to keep its people from leaving illegally.
So perhaps this sort of deal was an intended consequence of the proposal to build a wall. At any rate, it’s an interesting one. Of course, it’s not really about the wall itself so much as it’s about the combination of the wall and the amnesty proposal.
But since the wall is such a good metaphor, I’ll let Frost have the last word:
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors’.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
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.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”