Mexico May Take Border Fence to UN

by Peter Spiro

See this report here; pretty sketchy, without any elaboration from the Mexican government. It’s not easy to come up with an international law argument against a border fence, although one would assume a human rights basis (especially as combined with empirical evidence of resulting deaths from border smuggling moved into more inhospitable terrain). It wouldn’t seem that there’s any common ground with the ICJ’s occupied territories decision, other than it also involved a fence.

All that said, the mere suggestion of some IL argument here evidences how immigration policy – once firmly within sovereign discretion – is increasingly moving into the ambit of international law.

The border fence initiative is pretty silly, as even President Bush seems to understand. On the utter failure of border enforcement measures, see this persuasive piece from Princeton’s Douglas Massey. (One finding: even as the number of border apprehensions has gone up in the wake of ballooning enforcement budgets, the cost of each apprehension has increased almost 500% in just a decade.) The Council on Foreign Relations has just posted an update backgrounder on immigration politics, a companion to this sensible essay by Tamar Jacoby in the most recent issue of Foreign Affairs.

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