On Sept. 15, it was finished: a razor wire fence erected along the Hungary's southern border with Serbia. This was no flashback to the Balkan conflict of the 1990s, during which time landmines demarcated Serbian borders. It was simply another defensive — or, to many critics, offensive –– move by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's government, which has drawn international condemnation for its anti-immigration policies. Within hours the fence was tested: Handfuls of people were arrested trying to climb it.
To Dr. Alexandru Balas, director of the Clark Center for International Education at SUNY Cortland, history shows that physical border defenses don't work, and aren't humane. "Walls, from the Great Wall of China to Hadrian's Wall, have not kept people from trying and succeeding to get over them," Balas said. "Even if Hungary would electrify the wall, desperate people would find a way to get over it, risking their lives in the process." He added that there is a sad irony at work: "Some of the people suggesting this solution are themselves second-, third- or fourth-generation immigrants."