History (and sometimes, unfortunately, current events) shows us just how easily national borders can change, but we still like to think that they are permanent fixtures. In the spring of 1929, a man named Patrick Murphy left a bar in Bisbee, Arizona, to bomb the Mexican border town of Naco, a bunny hop of about ten miles (16 kilometers). Borders everywhere attract violence, violence prompts fences, and eventually fences can mutate into walls.
Now as the United States debates fortifying its border with Mexico, walls have a new vogue. The 800 or so residents of Naco, Arizona, where Patrick Murphy is part of the local lore, have been living in the shadow of a 14-foot-high (four meters) steel wall for the past decade.
These photos of different national borders around the world show you how both friendly and hostile nations like to fence off their turf. The borders between friendly nations, especially those in the European Union's Schengen zone, can seem almost non-existent, marked by no more than a line or a road sign.
He stuffed dynamite, scrap iron, nails, and bolts into suitcases and dropped the weapons off the side of his crop duster as part of a deal with Mexican rebels battling for control of Naco, Sonora.


Then everyone pays attention because a wall turns a legal distinction into a visual slap in the face.
At various spots along the dusty, 1,952-mile (3,141 kilometers) boundary, fences, walls, and vehicle barriers have been constructed since the 1990s to slow the surge in illegal immigration. Other borders are delineated by natural markers like rivers, or by man-made markers, like guard posts and demilitarized zones. When his flight ended, it turned out he'd hit the wrong Naco, managing to destroy property mainly on the U.S.
We seem to love walls, but are embarrassed by them because they say something unpleasant about the neighbors—and us.
The Border Patrol station is the biggest building in the tiny town; the copper roof glistens under the blistering sun. In Arizona, the state most overrun with illegal crossings, 65 miles (105 kilometers) of barriers have been constructed already.
In 2005, a pioneering bit of guerrilla theater took place here when the Minutemen, a citizen group devoted to securing the border, staked out 20 miles (32 kilometers) of the line and patrolled it.


Some say he was drunk, some say he was sober, but everyone agrees he was one of the first people to bomb the United States from the air. Just as our houses have doors and locks, so do borders call forth garrisons, customs officials, and, now and then, big walls.
Depending on the direction of the ongoing immigration debate, there may soon be hundreds more miles of walls.
Today about 8,000 people live in Naco, Sonora, on the Mexican side of the metal wall that slashes the two communities.



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