A hot, dry desert. A tense, contentious border. Angry youths throw rocks at government security forces. Shots are fired. A 14-year-old boy lies dead.
Sound like one of those all too familiar skirmishes along the Israeli-Gaza border? Not quite…
A U.S. Border Patrol agent shot and killed a 14-year-old Mexican boy near the Juarez-El Paso border during a rock-throwing incident Monday night, authorities said.
[…] The FBI, which is investigating the incident, said two Border Patrol agents had detained two people suspected of illegally crossing the border. The agents had the suspects on the ground and ordered other suspected illegal immigrants to stop. According to the statement, the group surrounded the agents and began to pelt them with stones.
One agent, who was not identified, fired his handgun, killing the victim, who was identified as Sergio Adrian Hernandez Huereca.
It was not immediately known if the boy was among the rock throwers.
Such confrontations are almost inevitable along a militarized border, as is the profound grief and resentment this sort of tragedy generates. Thus all the arguments for and against aside, the American public must understand that if immigration reform relies too heavily upon a border fence backed by force of arms, then we should be prepared for the escalating violent backlash such a policy will almost surely create.
To our north, the United States proudly shares the world’s longest undefended border, and one would hope that this example would also guide our aspirations to the south. But to achieve this goal our nation must rethink the entire immigration issue, focusing less on interdiction and more on the relentless economic imbalances that continue to draw undocumented immigrants across an ever more hostile border: the lack of opportunity at home and the demand for low-wage, low-skilled workers here in the U.S.
Labor is mobile; the jobs that many undocumented workers fill in agriculture, construction and the service sector are not. In this sense, the mass migration we’re witnessing represents classical capitalist economic theory at work… a theory that in its purest ideological form not only suggests that we should not attempt to staunch the flow of labor capital, but that we ultimately cannot.
At least, not without the Gazafication of the U.S.-Mexican border.
Of course it would be a mistake to overstate the parallels with the exponentially more tragic conflict unfolding daily between Israelis and Palestinians. Even behind an American-built fence, Juárez is no Gaza, and the drug cartels wreaking cross border violence are no Hamas.
But it would be a mistake to ignore the parallels as well, especially when our nation is making the moral decision to send our uniformed men and women to a border where they will inevitably be put in the position of shooting unarmed children.