Twenty years ago to the week, residents of Soviet-dominated East Berlin were allowed free entry into Allied-occupied West Berlin, as the Wall that was synonymous with the Iron Curtain began to be chipped away, piece by piece.
German reunification would begin that night and last well into 1990. The anniversary of the event puts my mind's focus on the thought of an American wall of our very own.In the United States, there exists a border fence between the southern states and northern Mexico.
The fence is constructed decently at some spots and is laughably porous at others. A movement advocating the construction of a full-blown, non-porous border wall exists. I cannot think of a time more appropriate than now to consider the implications of building such a monstrosity.
Undergoing such a project would cost an unseemly amount of money to taxpayers. Given our current economic state, it's just not a feasible thing to do. While such a project would create temporary jobs in the South, the final result would have absolutely no positive lasting impact on the economy of the U.S., and stands a real chance of causing economic disruption.
I find it ironic that the idea of the wall gets its political support mostly from Republican politicians, the supposed champions of fiscal restraint.The demographic shift that the entire nation is experiencing will serve to make supporting the wall nothing short of political suicide.
Especially in southern states, a dramatic increase in Hispanic voters, who are overwhelmingly against such a wall being created, is occurring. If any politician were to win the support of such an increasingly important group, he or she would be wise to oppose the proposed wall and instead support immigration reform efforts.
Immigration policies are a central issue in my hometown on Long Island, NY. Each day as I drove to and from my high school, there stood two groups separated only by the eight lanes of North Ocean Avenue.
One group, huddled around an abandoned gas station, was comprised of immigrant laborers, hoping they would be able to be selected for a hard day's work and be able to support their family already here or send remittances back to those still living in their country of origin. The other group, unwaveringly dressed in the colors of the flag, held signs with slogans such as "Go Home."
Every day, I would wonder about both groups. For the first, I would think about what their daily lives were like and how they got to Long Island of all places. I wondered how they could reconcile the great words of poet Emma Lazarus imprinted inside the Statue of Liberty with their actions and beliefs.
I think, however, the most interesting element of the scenario was always the placement of the Suffolk County Police cruiser. The Crown Vic was never near the day laborers. It was always parked beside the "patriots" holding the signs.
With the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, we need to think about walls of our own in the United States. The fact that we have such an influx of illegal immigrants and refugees suggests that we remain a land of opportunity and promise.
How could we turn our back on the rest of the world and close our doors to the tired and the poor? How can we turn our back on our own ideals of opportunity and the American dream and build a horrible, hideous construction designed only to keep people out and away? How can we deny the freedoms which we take for granted on a daily basis to others who seek those same dreams and economic opportunities
The illegal immigration problem surely must be addressed, but a wall is not the right answer. This is not Castle America, nor is it Fort United States, this is the Land of the Free and the Land of Opportunity. As we watch and re-watch tapes of East and West Berliners destroying their own edifice of horror and oppression, we must remember that we should not - we cannot - build one of our own.
To do so would be to turn our backs on everything that the United States of America is supposed to stand for. We mustn't allow such a construction to become a reality.
Alex Berberich is a junior international relations major who was arrested earlier this week for drunkenly attacking the ISC with a pick-axe while yelling "Tear down this wall!"