The Wall


This is a long report, but there is a lot to say.

The wall is here. I found it in its many forms. If you drive along US-281, Military Highway, and look south, you will see many the barriers, both old and new. I have been joking about “Biden gates” but they won’t be necessary. The wall is bits and pieces with many gaps existing. It turns out that in this part of the country the wall is not built on the border , but as much as a mile away. US farmers have land and crops on both sides of the wall. Therefore it is necessary for the farm roads to pass through the wall.

In other locations, the new wall is incomplete – full of gaps and other openings. I read that much of the land where the wall would be built is privately owned. The government must acquire the land and secure right of way to it. This has proven difficult. One estimate is that only 40 miles of new wall have been built (winter, 2021). The rest of the construction has been refurbishing old wall originally constructed of Vietnam era runway landing mats.

As I drove along it I thought, “what a farce!” How can this ever work? China’s wall did not keep out the Mongols and Hadrian’s wall did not keep out the Caledonians. This wall, even if finished would not keep out even casual illegal immigrants. I thought of the open line of a poem by my favorite poet, Robert Frost, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall…”

I was driving down a rough dirt road along the wall crossing back and forth through the gaps, and came across a Border Patrol agent sitting in his truck at a farm road crossing. We talked for a while, and I told him I did not envy him his job and I suspected it was going to get more difficult. He said it already had – that there has been a large increase in illegal crossings since the presidential election the previous November. I believe something must be done to stop or substantially curb illegal immigration, but this is not it.

I close this with the complete poem, “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost.

    Mending Wall
    By Robert Frost
    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 offense.
    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.’