Article2009

Fencing Fears: The United States Border Fence and the Responsibility of Social Workers


ABSTRACT

The October 2006 Secure Fence Act permitted the construction of over 700 miles of double reinforced fence along the United States-Mexico border. While perhaps not the one intended, the fence is having an impact: the death of migrants attempting to cross the border has increased and the construct of “illegality” is being reified, heightening the insecurity of individuals who live in the U.S. with illegal or undocumented status. In addition, the fence can be understood as a statement of exclusion that leads to the further erosion of societal unity among the people who live within the U.S. borders. This paper contextualizes the political discourse that presumes that the construction of a wall is a viable solution to national concerns about migration and security in the history of cross-border migration and legislation. In so doing it analyzes the fence by delineating its effects on undocumented migrants and the power imbalances already evident within the larger U.S. society. Finally, it concludes by asking social workers to act in accordance with their obligation to promote social justice.

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