The Fence

The Semantics of a Border Barrier

On the Other Side

A man looks out from the Mexican side of the fence in Tijuana, separated from American photographer Brian Auer in Border Field State Park.

Critics of the border fence have drawn comparisons between the fence and other border barriers constructed in history, particularly the Berlin Wall, which the American government so vocally condemned. When campaigning for president in 2012, then governor Enrique Peña Nieto criticized the American government for building the fence and called for the U.S. government to "tear down this wall," ultimately mocking Ronald Reagan's 1987 exhortation to Mikhail Gorbachev of the former Soviet Union.

In an interview with National Geographic, Rodolfo Santos Esquer, a businessman in Naco, Sonora, also compared the fence to the Berlin Wall, calling the wall "horrible" and "ugly" and ultimately equating it to an agent of racism. 

The concept of the fence as a means of restricting the arrival of migrants to a country with a deep history of ethnic diversity and of being a land of hope and prosperity for foreigners therefore begs the question of whether or not the wall truly fits into or holds true to American ideology about immigrants.

The United States once accepted foreigners in search of a better life in droves. America is, indeed, a land of immigrants. Though stark, the comparison between the border fence and the Berlin Wall ultimately forces one to consider the political and social implications the fence carries, especially within the context of history and the subsequent American paradigm of principles that has developed.