Why the Fence?

Angela Chininin Buele

I think we have all heard more than enough about Donald Trump’s proposed wall between the U.S. and Mexico.  When my family crosses the border to work with some beloved friends at an orphanage outside of Ciudad Juárez, we see a big black fence marking the political boundary – in maybe even more than one way.  I’ll confess that I thought “the wall” already existed, at least along some stretches of the border.  Driving alongside this fence stirs up a mix of emotions for our family.

We know that the matter of immigration is very complex.  We have lived that.  There are legal and illegal immigrants.  There are all kinds of visas that determine who can be here, for how long, and for what purpose.  There are people who cross the border without documents.  There are people who arrive in the United States with a legitimate visa and overstay.  One time a corporate lawyer did not file my husband’s paperwork on time despite repeated requests to do so.  The result was that my husband had to stop working for a period of two weeks.  He was in an immigration limbo.  He was lawfully admitted. But he had lost his status because a lawyer did not submit paperwork that ended up taking longer for the government to process.  My husband is now at the very last step of the naturalization process, and as a highly educated, well-dressed businessman who often corrects my native English, he is still treated at times like a criminal in the company of USCIS agents.  I’m glad I have had the opportunity to learn about our country’s not-so-friendly immigration process, the widely criticized H1B visa the Lord used to get him to this point, and how even I, a U.S. citizen by birth, cannot end the matter by saying, “He’s with me; enough already.”

There are clearly reasons we want to guard our borders.  We don’t want drugs to come in or children to be trafficked out of the country.  We don’t want coyotes to take advantage of the needs and the lives of the poor for their selfish gain.  Security and protection benefits the nation as a whole, but being closed off builds neither bridges nor a future.  I think there must be a better way to reach our goals of legal immigration and legal transport of goods than by building a big, big wall.  Walls create and deepen division.  A wall will not solve the deep problems that divide the United States and Mexico.  A wall will not stop the desperate conditions that drive men, women, and children to leave it all behind to risk crossing into the United States for an opportunity at a better life.  A wall will not stop the frustration and anger of displaced American manufacturing workers who have lost their livelihood to bigger commercial interests of corporations that find it cheaper to manufacture their products across the borders or across the ocean.

I wonder if you are aware, though, that the proposed wall along the border between the U.S. and Mexico is not the only the only one of its kind.  There is a specific type of wall that can be found in cities around our country – walls that keep some people in and others out.  This barrier, sometimes two layers thick, also shows an unwelcoming face to the outside world. This wall, like all walls of its kind, is designed to separate people, to prevent people who enter in from being able to communicate with those on the outside.  That’s a little too much like the Berlin Wall for me.  The wall to which I refer surrounds Planned Parenthood abortion facilities throughout the United States.

Because there have been reprehensible attacks carried out against abortion providers on and off of the properties occupied by their abortion-providing employers, it is reasonable for security measures to be taken, for careful attention to be paid to people coming and going.  Video surveillance and staff or volunteer presence is certainly understandable in the parking lot.  But what is the reason for the fence?  The fence at the abortion facility in my metropolitan area has an unsecured gate, so people who want to walk or drive in during business hours may do so freely.  The security guard has a station inside the front door, so staff members have an internal buffer between themselves and any potential threat.  So I wonder again, why the fence?  “It is because of people like John and Mary [who apparently are praying there every Friday and Saturday],” it was explained to us the other day.  Speech like that, speech that breeds division is precisely the scary reason that leads me to write about this.  When we consider ourselves to be different from – or even superior to – other human beings, made in the image of God, the consequences are unavoidable.  Segregation.  Discrimination.  Protectionism.  Genocide. Auschwitz had a fence also.  And it all started with the segregation of one group of people.

It seems to me that, instead being an instrument of defense, it’s used on the offense.  That is to say that the fence might not be about safety at all, but it is most certainly used for security – the security of the business, that is.   You see, once a woman makes it to the parking lot of an abortion facility, there is very short walk from the car to the building that must be spanned.  Now, if the purpose of the fence was to provide protection, there would be no need for women to be guided to the door.  Would a woman need help finding the front door?  Not likely.  No, the fences (sometimes one metal and one mesh fence are used together) provide more of a barrier for words and sight than for actions these days.  As for the escorts, they often provide little more than white noise in attempt to drown out that distant voice from beyond the fence crying out as an 11th hour appeal on behalf of the woman’s unborn child.  After all, a woman does still have the right to choose in those last moments, doesn’t she?  Is she not free to choose life and walk away from her appointment?  Or have we come to find that an abortionist’s parking lot is ultimately anti-choice?

Key Question: Americans, are we using a wall to keep the poor out of the country while we use a fence to keep the poor inside the abortion facility?

Unshakable Truth: My brothers,  if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins (James 5:19-20).

To call out to a mother on her way to abort her child is just as much in the interest of protecting her from the weight of her sin on her eternal soul as it is to protect her unborn child from violent physical death.

The Real Choice: If you are sure your position on this matter is best, will you openly engage in free speech, deep thinking conversations about it?

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