Secret Archaeology
March 31, 2009 1:32 AM   Subscribe

Archaeologists and Native Americans race against the border fence. The REAL ID act authorized government agencies to bulldoze long-standing environmental, cultural and anthropological standards. But a team of activists worked delicately behind the scenes to win millions of dollars in federal funding and the go-ahead for a last-ditch effort to study ancient artifacts. Archaeologists have faced similarly rushed projects elsewhere along the fence route.
posted by univac (46 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Did that thing actually get funding? Ugh.
posted by delmoi at 1:48 AM on March 31, 2009


There are still probably significant opportunities for plundering.
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:52 AM on March 31, 2009


Boston.com's The Big Picture, published a set on "Mexico's Drug War" last week.

Photos #27, and #28 are photos of the wall, and it doesn't look like they are dicking around with the permanence of the construction.

Then again... instead of climbing over it in the desert, you could just walk around it in San Diego.
posted by clearly at 3:04 AM on March 31, 2009


From a biologists point of view, I wonder if the wall could lead to allopatric speciation of land populations whose range includes both the southern United States and northern Mexico.

I'll never know in my lifetime, but it's entertaining to think about...

also, a wall is a terrible myopic soultion to a situation that requires a much broader approach.
posted by clearly at 3:26 AM on March 31, 2009


The wall is stupid enough, but if it's also destroying things of value.....ugh.
posted by DU at 4:36 AM on March 31, 2009


A "last ditch" archeological effort. Heh.
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 4:56 AM on March 31, 2009


Can someone tell me... what was the US government's opinion on the Berlin Wall going up and then coming down?
posted by twine42 at 5:17 AM on March 31, 2009


A friend of mine was on vacation in Turkey and read about the waters from several dam projects growing in Southern Turkey swallowing up acheological sites there so she rented a car and headed down to see what she could see before they were gone. When she arrived the waters were already starting to fill the trenches and test pits. The archeologists were desperate. Knowing that everything would be lost they told my friend and any locals that were there that science was out the window, anyone who wanted could take a shovel and dig anywhere and as quickly and as without caution as they pleased. Anything they found was theirs, just so long as they let one of the archeologists see it and take pictures of it. Everyone took to the shovels and pulled up pots, mosaics, ancient glasswear, clay tablets, you name it. By the days end everything was under water. Archeologists were desperately and vainly digging in knee deep water until the sun went down trying to document just one more artifact before all was lost.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:25 AM on March 31, 2009 [19 favorites]


You know who else destroyed ancient artifacts to advance their right-wing ideology?
posted by Joe Beese at 5:30 AM on March 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


Wait, the insane border wall idea not only got funding but hasn't been killed yet? Really?

Jeebus.

What bugs me is that, if people were genuinely concerned about illegals rather than simply looking for some new security theater and yet more federal dollars to waste there's an incredibly easy solve.

How to solve the problem of illegal immigration in two easy steps, a plan that not only doesn't cost any money but will actually *MAKE* money:

1) The owner and/or CEO, board, etc of any company that employs illegals are fined 1% of their annual income for every illegal they employ. If they employ 100 illegals they make no money that year, any more than 100 and they have to start auctioning off their property to pay the fine.

2) Encourage enforcement of 1 by giving any whistleblower 10% of the fine as a reward.

No need for a fence, no need for yet more security theater. The fact that no one in Congress has proposed penalizing those who employ illegals is, I think, sufficient evidence to indicate that they aren't really concerned about illegal immigration, but rather are simply looking to score some points with racists and the sort of person cough*fascists*cough who really like the idea of big walls as phallic substitutes.
posted by sotonohito at 5:56 AM on March 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


From a biologists point of view, I wonder if the wall could lead to allopatric speciation of land populations whose range includes both the southern United States and northern Mexico.

I'll never know in my lifetime, but it's entertaining to think about...


You can already do comparative studies in the prevalence of obesity, hypertension, diabetes, blood pressure, etc. between human family members who live on either side of the border, I don't see why you'd have to wait to start seeing trends in wildlife.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:05 AM on March 31, 2009


we could eliminate 90% of illegal immigration by allowing free movement throughout North America, as they have in the EU.
posted by delmoi at 6:10 AM on March 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


we could eliminate 90% of illegal immigration by allowing free movement throughout North America, as they have in the EU

Yeah, but then you might have to live next door to a Mexican and nobody wants that any more than a German wants to live next to a Turk.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:17 AM on March 31, 2009


They're not just 'not concerned'. If they actually did their hardest to stop illegal immigration, businesses would lose the ability to pay unskilled workers less than minimum wage. And we can't have that.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:23 AM on March 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


Can someone tell me... what was the US government's opinion on the Berlin Wall going up and then coming down?

What an apt comparison?

We don't need unrestricted travel. What we need to do is fix the problems in Mexico and southward which creates the economic and social conditions that makes millions of individuals believe they have to leave their homes and families to travel north. A prosperous Mexico and Central America is the best solution, not just for America's immigration woes, but also for the people of those countries.
posted by Atreides at 6:27 AM on March 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why is it not a suitable comparison? The Berlin wall was built by someone worried all the bright young types were leaving the country. This wall is being build by someone worried that those dumb foreigners are coming into the country.

Both were massive projects bankrolled by scared governments who thought they'd end up with all the unemployable in their country.

It's not the same, I know, but it's similar enough that I'm wondering what the thoughts were at the time.

Or are you accusing me of Godwining the conversation...?
posted by twine42 at 6:34 AM on March 31, 2009


What we need to do is fix the problems in Mexico...

Much easier said than done. Mexico doesn't seem able to fix their own problems right now, and I don't see how we can fix their problems for them or even if they'd appreciate our 'help'.
posted by RussHy at 6:39 AM on March 31, 2009


Nonsense! We fixed Iraq.
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 6:49 AM on March 31, 2009


Exactly.
posted by RussHy at 6:53 AM on March 31, 2009


The cowboys always win.
posted by Restless Day at 6:54 AM on March 31, 2009


Why is it not a suitable comparison?


If you're premise is essentially both were/are fences designed to impede the movement of individuals with regard to economic designs, you might say yes, they are similar. However, that's a very simple approach that disregards all the particulars.

There was more to the Berlin Wall than simple economic deprivation. The Berlin Wall acted as a means to enforce a political will on pain of death on unwilling East Germans. There were kill zones and mines that were incorporated in it's construction and operation. It was one country preventing by force the migration of its own citizens.

The border fence is designed to prevent the voluntary migration of workers from other countries into this country. No rights are being denied, no one is being oppressed, unless you believe that there are inalienable rights to travel where ever you please and work where ever you please.

The point is that the Berlin wall represents a government oppressing its own citizens. Our government is not oppressing any citizens, or anyone at all, unless you apply the above mentioned inalienable rights.

I'm not accusing you of Godwining anything. It's just that I believe there is a degree of magnitude that separates the two fences to being considered similar.
posted by Atreides at 6:58 AM on March 31, 2009


I was reading an article once that laid a lot of the blame on NAFTA for a lot of this. Because of NAFTA, you get a lot of cheap agricultural products flowing south, thanks to our wonderful farm subsidies. That makes it hard for Mexicans to get agricultural jobs, so they come up here.

I think a lot of the problem has to do with the same kind of social stratification in mexico that you see here. I mean, at one point in the past few years the worlds richest person was a Mexican. He was richer then Bill Gates. Yet millions of people can't even find decent work there. It's a pretty fucked up situation.

If immigration was a real problem, we would encourage the Mexican government to be more socialist, and then we wouldn't have so many poor people just south of the boarder. But no, the problems of poor people are never going to figure in to the mechanations of the global power elites. There are capital flows to protect people!
posted by delmoi at 6:59 AM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but then you might have to live next door to a Mexican and nobody wants that any more than a German wants to live next to a Turk.

Tell me about it. I live in a small city in the midwest (~20,000 people) with a meatpacking plant. We have a significant (for our area) number of people with Mexican heritage. It is almost impossible to find apartments for rent, not because the Mexicans are taking them all up, but because the landlords are prohibited from advertising "No Mexicans".

Yes, I actually had a guy tell me that.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 7:11 AM on March 31, 2009


Yeah, but then you might have to live next door to a Mexican and nobody wants that any more than a German wants to live next to a Turk.

I know you're being facetious but I live next to a Mexican family, across the street from a Nigerian couple, catty corner to an Indian family, with a white lesbian couple on the other side. That doesn't have a lot of bearing on the discussion here, of course, just saying.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:12 AM on March 31, 2009


I know you're being facetious but I live next to a Mexican family, across the street from a Nigerian couple, catty corner to an Indian family, with a white lesbian couple on the other side. That doesn't have a lot of bearing on the discussion here, of course, just saying.

Can I move to your neighborhood? Sounds amazing to me.
posted by ratita at 7:24 AM on March 31, 2009


It's a gated community yuppie ghetto, but sure come on over!
posted by Burhanistan at 7:29 AM on March 31, 2009


Atreides: Ouch, ouch, stop it.

The "Berlin Wall" is simply a symbol of the East / West border area which DID run the length of the national borders between those two countries. It was a 100 meter wide zone of a series of fences and no-man's-land "shoot to kill" zones which cut through the countryside like a fresh surgical scar. Unlike the Berlin Wall, the Border Zone was unapproachable from either side, and could only be viewed from a distance. It was over-militarized, ugly, and incidentally more than a tad frightening to encounter.

That being said, there IS oppression happening as the result of OUR wall. Wildlife notwithstanding, sister communities in the southern AZ region who have depended on each other for centuries are being fenced apart. Native American communities have found their homelands segregated. This isn't simply putting up a line of barbed wire across the Texas panhandle.

I do believe that better handling of migrant labor would be wise United States policy. I also believe that turning the US into a giant gated community is one of the silliest and (having seen the literal Iron Curtain) most frightening and possibly revealing things we've ever undertaken. Freud, Jung, it doesn't matter who, would have a field day with all this.
posted by hippybear at 7:48 AM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anything they found was theirs, just so long as they let one of the archeologists see it and take pictures of it.

I don't know about Turkey, but some countries have very harsh laws about taking artifacts out of the country. Anyone?
posted by jester69 at 8:24 AM on March 31, 2009


Those Turkish archaeologists were poorly-informed, since there can be significant archaeological integrity left in a site even after the construction of a dam -- I've worked on a 10,000 year old site that was flooded by a dam over 100 years ago and there was still worthwhile material and stratigraphy to be found. With the proper application of geotextile and riprap or gravel it is likely that sites can ride out inundation. Of course they become inaccessible to archaeologists, but that isn't really the point....
posted by Rumple at 8:31 AM on March 31, 2009


Oh, this is just the start. Let us not forget Project 28. Expect Boeing brand SecuriTowers(c) coming to your community soon!

Grand Moff TarkinDavid Aguilar, chief of Border Patrol claims, β€œthe net will be very, very tight.”
posted by formless at 8:36 AM on March 31, 2009


we could eliminate 90% of illegal immigration by allowing free movement throughout North America, as they have in the EU.

The EU allows free movement throughout North America? I didn't know they could do that! Anyway, I don't think the EU policy is any indicator of how a "borderless" N. America would play out. Is there a state within the EU that has the tremendous amount of violence, poverty and official corruption that Mexico has? If the EU allowed unfettered entry to anyone from anywhere at anytime I think you might get a better feel for how it would go.
posted by MikeMc at 8:46 AM on March 31, 2009


The owner and/or CEO, board, etc of any company that employs illegals are fined 1% of their annual income for every illegal they employ. If they employ 100 illegals they make no money that year, any more than 100 and they have to start auctioning off their property to pay the fine.

I'm confused. You don't like the fence? Yet you seem to have an enormous rage against illegal immigrants.
posted by yath at 10:29 AM on March 31, 2009


unless you believe that there are inalienable rights to travel where ever you please and work where ever you please.

Why not? If capital can move freely across borders, why can't people?
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:17 AM on March 31, 2009


The EU allows free movement throughout North America? I didn't know they could do that!

Well I'd be shocked to hear they have any laws, regulations, policy, or guidelines against it.
posted by Mitheral at 12:10 PM on March 31, 2009


Here's an interesting look at how the border fence is/will affect those in the US living on the border.
posted by naturesgreatestmiracle at 12:44 PM on March 31, 2009


Saxon Kane: Why not? If capital can move freely across borders, why can't people?

If people can move wherever they want, every country in the world would become a third world country as the poor flocked to them in hopes of improving their life. Every city would have a huge slum attached to it.
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:15 PM on March 31, 2009


Wait, the insane border wall idea not only got funding but hasn't been killed yet?

I've never heard of a viable alternative, not that I've gone looking. Can someone please summarize the options?

I can not see how leaving the border open can end up being of net positive benefit to the USA.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:47 PM on March 31, 2009


Interestingly enough my dad was the first archeologist to survey the area and recommend that a dig was necessary. When he brought his conclusion to the relevant people at the Corps, they decided that that they didn't want to listen and used an archeologist from the Texas branch who said go ahead (My dad is the head archeologist of the south west district of the corps). Basically they wanted to build the fence and went shopping for an archeologist who would ignore the problem. Sounds like that archeologist eventually was replaced with someone a little more honest.
posted by dibblda at 7:43 PM on March 31, 2009


You know how sometimes you just want to tear down the motherfuckers and fuck up the system?

Yeah, that's pretty much my reaction.
posted by saysthis at 9:56 PM on March 31, 2009


If people can move wherever they want, every country in the world would become a third world country as the poor flocked to them in hopes of improving their life.

How dare those poor dream of improving their lives. Should the poor should be sentenced to live their lives in poverty and stifling societies that do not allow upward mobility?

I can not see how leaving the border open can end up being of net positive benefit to the USA.

Ever hear of the United States? A tremendously prosperous place built on receiving folks, rich and poor alike, from around the globe. Prosperous even when the borders were quite open. Or ignored. How many people ever emigrated to the US because things were going so well in the old country?

Being able to better one's life by moving to greener pastures is one of the most fundamental freedoms humans have. To the extent that movement is prohibited creates poverty around the world.

Take for a moment to imagine what it would be like if you lost your job and were forbidden to move to another State or city, even if that's where your employer went. It isn't any different on an international scale. The freedom to move oneself where one sees fit allows prosperity to grow. This isn't some modern phenomenon. Migration is the story of humanity.
posted by 2N2222 at 10:52 PM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


2N2222, your proposal β€” that wholesale flight of illegal immigration continue β€” potentially results in the USA having nearly half its population composed of non-citizens. People who do not pay taxes yet make use of public infrastructure; people who can not vote but are subject to the laws; people who can not hold a legitimate job and end up working shit jobs at slave-labour wages.

In other words, what you propose is just plain bad for the nation.

I repeat: I can not see how leaving the border open can end up being of net positive benefit to the USA.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:44 AM on April 1, 2009


I can't wait for the ETs to land so we can all drop this nation-state nonsense and have real foreigners to fear.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:45 AM on April 1, 2009


five fresh fish: If it was made legal, they wouldn't be illegal immigrants, would they? We could tax them and make laws protecting them. The reason they are underpaid and mistreated and marginal is because they have no one to complain to, not because it's the only way things can work.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:35 AM on April 1, 2009


2N2222: Should the poor should be sentenced to live their lives in poverty and stifling societies that do not allow upward mobility?

Well, no, but the US (nor the entire first world) doesn't have enough wealth to cure the poverty of the world. Not even close. So, either we live in our relative luxury while the overseas poor live in crushing poverty, or everyone lives in slightly less crushing poverty together. I've no doubt a few rich oligarchs would come out of it ok, but the middle class would be eradicated. Even the oligarchs would probably be worse off, because the poverty would come with enough crime, political unrest, etc. to ruin their day despite the cheap labor.

So, while I sympathize with the poor, I really do not want to see the US turned into an endless sea of polluted slums ruled over by a few ultra-rich with the power of feudal lords backed up by nuclear weapons. Nor do I want to have to compete for jobs with people for whom $10 a day would be a step up.
posted by Mitrovarr at 4:49 PM on April 1, 2009


If it was made legal, they wouldn't be illegal immigrants, would they?

If what were made legal? Emigration to the USA is already perfectly legal.

Are you suggesting that dashing across the border, unregulated and unchecked, should be made legal? Are you suggesting that, in effect, there be no borders whatsoever?

An intriguing idea, that, but workable only if we are going to have One World Government.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:02 PM on April 1, 2009


If people can move wherever they want, every country in the world would become a third world country as the poor flocked to them in hopes of improving their life.

Huh? What the fuck does that mean? Every place would be full of poor because all the poor would move everywhere? Where are these poor now, in the Twilight Zone?

Every city would have a huge slum attached to it.

Welcome to the fucking Desert of the Real. Been to many major cities lately? They all pretty much have huge slums; even if its not a visibly central geographic space, the poor and homeless are there in droves. Hell, some cities ARE slums -- look at Detroit.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:38 PM on April 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


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