Tuesday, May 21, 2019
Guest post by Ellen Thomas, a rising 3L at Saint Louis University School of Law
Sparks from the welder disappear into the air as construction crews fortify the wall and repair old fencing. The rust colored beams stretch east to west as far as the eye can see, and even into the Pacific Ocean.
Two sets of fencing along this portion of the border separate San Diego, California from Tijuana, Mexico. In contrast with the new fencing whose metal planks that soar into the air, another style of fencing is comprised of heavy concrete that sits much lower to the ground. Studies showed that the tall fences disrupted the migratory patterns of butterflies. The tall fences are too narrow and too tall to allow a butterfly to pass through on their natural routes north and south. The butterflies, unable to pass, either perish on site or are forced into unsuitable habitats.
Statistics demonstrate the utility of border walls, but the question of their humanitarian impact remains. While numbers reflect the efficacy of the border wall, the number of migrants dying in deserts trying to pass into the United States is on a steady increase. Like the butterflies who are unable to pass through the border wall, migrants too are forced to either remain in unlivable locations or forced into unsuitable environments. Hundreds of people die annually crossing the desert due to exposure and dehydration, and giving resources and water to needy people in the desert is often criminalized. Expensive fencing remedies the problems faced by the native butterfly species, but what about the human impact?
It is no question that the push-pull factors of human migration are a complex beast. But the simplicity of butterfly migration demonstrates the danger a wall creates. The migration of people and butterflies is a reflection of the survival instinct. The rusty metal beams might deter crossings locally, but nothing can deter those on a mission to survive.
- posted by KitJ on behalf of Ellen Thomas