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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

Secure Fence Act Of 2006: One More Infringement On Freedom

by David D. Murray, Esq.

I am scared by the text of the Secure Fence Act of 2006, recently signed into law by president George W. Bush, the full text of which is set forth below. And I am scared about the direction the United States of America is taking and about the image of America around the world as an economic and military bully. That is not to say there are not threats to America, or even to the world. There certainly are, but America is but one player in a world of billions, and unless the goal of America is to rule the world by force, economic or military, it might be well for future administrations to pay particular attention to America's perceived image around the world, and particularly in Muslim countries, where America's image may already have been irreparably damaged.

In the 1940's, author George Orwell published a book entitled "1984" (read a summary and even the full text of that book on line at http://www.online-literature.com/orwell/1984/ by clicking the various chapters at the left of the screen).

"1984" is a frightening expose of a government gone mad, with, for the 1940's, futuristic electronic surveillance devices, controlling the speech and thoughts of its citizens, punishing those who did not conform to the norms imposed by the government - kind of like the McCarthy era in America in the 1950's, only worse.

After World War Two, Germany, and its former capital, Berlin, was divided into four sectors, each sector being controlled by one of the victorious allied forces, the U.S., Britain, France and the Soviet Union. Ultimately the three sectors in the western part of Germany gained independence, becoming West Germany, while the Soviet Union continued to dominate Eastern Germany. In the 1961, under the leadership of Nikita Sergueivich Khrushchev, First Secretary of the Communist Party from 1953 to 1964, the man who in 1960 promised to economically "bury" the United States, the Soviet Union built the Berlin Wall to separate Soviet-controlled East Berlin from West Berlin. The entire of the city of Berlin was in East Germany, with just a thin ribbon of demilitarized highway connecting West Berlin to West Germany, subject to the watchful control of the East German border guards, who inspected every vehicle that passed through, interrogating and often insulting the drivers of large cars, calling them "capitalist swine". Everyone should know the history of the Berlin Wall, since after its construction it became the symbol of international tyranny and the Americans' "Checkpoint Charlie" the symbol of freedom, set against the grim background of Soviet oppression, representing the separation of east and west, and - for the East Germans - a gateway to freedom.

What many people do not know is that at about the same time the Berlin Wall was built, the Soviets built "die totes Grenze", "The Dead Line" - a border fence that ran the entire length of Germany, an integral part of the infamous "Iron Curtain" of the cold war era. The Soviets maintained Germany's Dead Line with double electrically charged, barbed wire topped, stout solid metal or mesh fences with steel-reinforced concrete going four feet down into German soil, heavily mined and patrolled by jeeps with 50 caliber machine guns mounted in the back, with heavily fortified guard towers strategically placed along the entire perimeter. For twenty-eight years, the dead line kept people in, and kept people out. The people it kept in were robbed of freedom, while the people it kept out were robbed of family and national unity.

Before the Berlin Wall toppled in 1989, many times I stood on a hill overlooking the Werra Rivera, in Hessen, West Germany, at the Dead Line meandering up the hill and disappearing in the distance into the blue atmospheric haze of a late autumn afternoon. With its ominous guard towers, behind lay the East German village of Linda Werra, a shabby and dilapidated looking village, badly in need of paint and repair. The few people who could occasionally be seen, slowly walking, heads turned downward toward the ground, seemed to silently echo their plight across the river to the West Germans driving by in their new Mercedes Benz's, as a wake-up call to guard well against the possibility of this again happening anywhere in the world.

In the wake of Perestroika, which resulted in the collapse of the Soviet Union, and six months after the opening of the Berlin Wall, while the two Germanys were still in process of becoming reunited, and even before Americans were allowed into East Germany without a visa, in May 1990 I sneaked through a portion of the Dead Line fence. Our car bounced across the farm fields, entering East Germany through a hole that had been punched through the fence by farmers in a remote area, the mines having been previously cleared, until we reached the barely paved road, where we proceeded to the village of Linde Werra. This was the first time I had looked through the Dead Line fence, across to the West German side. It was very emotional.

I discovered that under the Soviet occupation, Linde Werra had been a closed village and on the road leading to Linde Werra we found an abandoned guard tower about a half kilometer from the village, that had formerly been responsible for making sure nobody but Linda Werra villagers had access to this place that was so close to an easily swimmable river, if one were able to make it through the fence, around the mines and avoid the machine guns. In fact, several years before, one courageous young man did make it - over the double fences, through the mine fields, into the river, and up the river bank on the opposite side. Climbing the steep hill on the West German side of the river, he was shot dead by a sniper in one of the guard towers, just seconds away from freedom. A monument to his bravery and quest for freedom to this day sits on the top of that hill, just off the main road between Kassel and Bad Sooden-Allendorf, a grim reminder of former times.

One time, in 1985, as I was approaching the turn-out to the monument, I noticed a commotion up ahead. Pulling into the turn-out, I noticed a large, green military helicopter careening overhead, its chopper blades splitting the silence of the forest like an unwelcome intruder. Another attempt had been made to jump the fence and swim the river near Linde Werra, but this time the unsuccessful one was lucky and escaped before making over the fence, unable to reach freedom, but lucky enough to be alive.

America is not, nor should it be, a nation of military or economic oppressors, either of its own people, or of the people of other countries. America is a nation of laws, and by those laws should it be governed and by those laws should it keep illegals and visa overstays from gaining benefits in the United States.

It is well recognized that the United States needs "comprehensive immigration reform", but just what is that? A seven-hundred mile, multi billion dollar fence? How will America secure it? With mines? With guard towers? With electric barbed wire? With Machine guns? With dogs, and jeeps with 50-caliber machine guns? And ultimately, will the fence keep people in as well as keep people out? For besides the sea, Americans have only two places to which to run in time of anarchy or chaos, or worse.

In the name of "homeland security", it appears our government, local, state and federal, has no qualms about bending the U.S. Constitution, altering the protections built into that document that sets America apart from the rest of the world. Think about the Patriot Act, and even worse, the failed Patriot Act II. Think about the surveillance cameras coming to every corner of every city in the nation, under the disguise of catching people who run red lights and drive too fast. Think about the surveillance cameras along California's Toll Roads, recording the license plate number of every car that passes through, and monitoring them along the way, lest they speed. Think about the little things Americans accept as minor intrusions on our privacy, that twenty years ago did not exist. Think about cell phones with GPS locators and the ever popular LoJack Vehicle Recovery System that allows police instant access to the location of your vehicle and every move it makes. And think about the LoJack Laptop Computer Recovery System that would have the capability of monitoring every move of every laptop computer in the world, if so installed. Now think about the locator chip proposed to be installed in every child . . . for their safety.

And what about the Temecula Sub-border Checkpoints on I-15 or the San Onofre on I-5 in California? In the mid 1970's, California lawyer Charles Sevilla, an outstanding criminal lawyer and former neighbor of mine in San Diego, argued successfully before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in U.S. vs. Martinez-Fuerte, 514 Fed.2d 305 (9th Cir. 1975), eliminating random stops of vehicles by Border Patrol Agents at the I-5 San Onofre Checkpoint, but lost the point a year later before the U.S. Supreme Court after appeal by the government in U.S. vs. Martinez-Fuentes, 428 US 453(1976), with the court holding that brief interrogative stops of all motorists crossing the checkpoint was reasonable, even without individualized suspicion. So after a year of closure, the check point at San Onofre was reopened and has remained open, a bottleneck in the traffic during the busy rush from San Diego to Orange and Los Angeles Counties.

Yes, the Secure Fence Act of 2006 scares me, with its "systematic surveillance of the international land and maritime borders of the United States through more effective use of personnel and technology, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, ground-based sensors, satellites, radar coverage, and cameras; and physical infrastructure enhancements to prevent unlawful entry by aliens into the United States and facilitate access to the international land and maritime borders by United States Customs and Border Protection, such as additional checkpoints, all weather access roads, and vehicle barriers." It seems to me that in the twenty-first century, we could come up with something more civilized than what was tried by China as early as the fourteenth century when they first began work on the Great Wall of China, the remnants of which are now a curiosity, a tourist attraction, and claimed by some to be the only man-made structure visible with the naked eye from outer space. Yet this grand wall did little or nothing to protect China from outside intruders, just as a fence at America's southern border will do little or nothing to stop terrorism, for the enemy is within, and the enemy is divisiveness, prejudice, hatred, loathing, misunderstanding and bigotry. This type of enemy will always have access to American freedom, because just like freedom, a wall cannot contain it. But that is a price we Americans must be prepared pay for our freedom, lest we lose our freedom in the name of keeping it. America must find other ways to stop the spread of terrorism, other ways than locking ourselves behind a wall of false security, for the sky has no walls large enough to keep it out.

Questions to ponder about our new "fence" . . . Will Big Brother watching you? Or just the illegal aliens? If Big Brother is watching us, who is watching Big Brother?

Read "1984", but first read the Secure Fence Act of 2006 . . . . will it make you feel secure?

To read the Secure Fence Act of 2006, click here.


About The Author

David D. Murray, Esq. is an attorney with offices located in Newport Beach, California. A graduate of Ball State University and Western State University College of Law, Mr. Murray has been a practitioner and consultant in connection with business law and immigration matters since 1978. His practice concentrates in the areas of Civil Litigation, Copyright, Trademark, and Trade Secrets Litigation, Employment Law, Contracts, International Transactions, and U.S. Business and Family Immigration matters. Mr. Murray served in the U.S. Army from 1967 to 1969, including deployment to the Republic of South Vietnam, where in addition to regular military duties, he served as a professor of English at the University of Hue. Holding a Merchant Marine Captain's license for both sail and power vessels up to 100 net registered tons, Mr. Murray has sailed in excess of 100,000 miles in sailing boats between 22 and 197 feet in length. When not practicing law, or otherwise engaged in other various business endeavors, Mr. Murray is an avid Harley-Davidson motorcycle enthusiast, an amateur guitarist (electric and acoustical), five-string banjo picker, writer, poet, philosopher, backpacker, hiker, sailor, skier, and lover of the great outdoors.


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