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"Humanitarian Crisis" on the Arizona Border?

In Beyond the season of death on the US-Mexico border, Joseph Nevins refers to the deaths of people attempting to illegally enter the United States - 221 in Arizona's Sonoran Desert last federal fiscal year, and 190 since October of this year - as a "humanitarian crisis".

I won't debate whether or not we should label the deaths a "humanitarian crisis" or not - the label makes little difference. Nevins, however, cites the deaths as reason for the U.S. to rethink its immigration and border policing policies - and that's a load of you-know-what.

I'm not claiming to be fond of our immigration policies, and I'm not claiming that our method of border protection is particularly effective. I'm sure there are many reasons we might want to rethink these policies. But I am disputing the claim that these deaths should qualify as such a reason.

Many people in Mexico want to come to the U.S. Perhaps if conditions in Mexico were ideal, this wouldn't be an issue - but fixing up Mexico isn't our obligation, and we aren't morally responsible for the results if we fail to help out.

Fixing up our immigration policy - that we are responsible for. I suspect that there is a good deal wrong with it. But even under the ideal immigration policy (or perhaps the least morally objectionable one that is pratically possible), not every person who wants to immigrate to the U.S. is going to be allowed - not every person will have a legitimate right to come in. We, then, have a legitimate right to keep such individuals out.

There will probably always be some possibility of getting past border security. We've put up fences, walls, video cameras, and increased border patrols in an attempt to cut down on the number of people who succeed in doing this. I find nothing about that objectionable. If some other method would be more effective, we'd have no excuse not to use that instead - but I'm sure the people in charge of border security are doing the best they can.

So some people can't get in legally and try to sneak in through the desert. Many of them, at least 3,000 in Arizona since 1995 and probably more, have died. It may sound callous, but so what? Sure, it's sad. It would be a nice thing to do to try to prevent these deaths. But are we under any obligation to do so? We have the right to control traffic through our borders, and these people are making the free choice to risk their lives by trying to sneak through. Are many pressured by poverty? Sure, but they still made the choice - and again, we have no obligation to improve living conditions in Mexico.

Some individuals, tormented by depression or failure, throw themselves off of bridges and tall buildings. I see the situations as roughly parallel. We've created environments that are dangerous in certain conditions - primarily when people choose, for whatever reason, to put themselves in a position a person would not normally put him or herself in. We aren't talking about environments that are dangerous when people stick to the normal, intended behavior for that environment. This isn't about people slipping and falling off of normal pedestrian bridges; it's about people who decide to endanger or kill themselves by climbing over the railing and jumping off the bridge, or trying to hike through a desert in summertime.

Are we (or the owner of the building/bridges in question) responsible for preventing that sort of death or injury? I can't imagine how we would be. We might as well sue gun-makers because some people use the weapons on themselves (or others, for that matter).

What do YOU think?
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