President Williamson and his Mexican counterpart, Ariel Mendoza, mugged for the cameras on a platform in the desert a few paces south of the border. Mendoza’s expression, Williamson thought, was impolitically sour. It was true the treaty he’d been forced to sign was highly unfavorable to Mexico and would thus end his political career. However, under-the-table arrangements would make him very rich. He seemed less than grateful.
Williamson liked the optics of commemorating the occasion while standing on Mexican soil. Very Alpha. Behind him gleamed a somber line of giant white turrets, spaced at 100m intervals, which stretched from the Baja to the Gulf. This was the Freestanding Electric Non-Caucasian Ejector, or FENCE, which America’s brightest had designed and Mexico had paid for.
Williamson’s mouth hurt from smiling, the reporters’ mobiles and the drones whizzing everywhere. Sweat rolled down his blond temple from the sun—dry heat, maybe, but still hellish. He’d have to fire whoever scheduled this ceremony.
But he was on the verge of accomplishing what weak-minded past presidents could not—secure the southern border. No one else had been strong or clear-eyed enough to take care of business. To be fair, none of them had access to the technology that made it all possible.
Williamson patted the nearest turret, a 4m diameter, white metal pole. He paused as the cameras captured the gesture. Each was essentially a giant TASER. Once activated, FENCE would serve as a humane gatekeeper for the entire one thousand, nine-hundred, and ninety-four miles of border.
Its construction had been on a scale comparable to Kennedy’s moonshot. It was a lot easier to get support for keeping out aliens than trying to find some on Mars. Keeping the flow of illegals—sorry, undocumented immigrants–out would protect against terrorists, reduce violent crime, and boost the economy. Williamson’s legacy was secure, and a second term was as good as guaranteed.
“Can I get you together?” a reporter asked. Williamson laid a pink hand on Mendoza’s shoulder and drew him closer, against resistance.
“Now play nice, amigo,” said Williamson through his gleaming smile. “You’re our partner in this exciting new venture.”
Mendoza snarled a curse in Spanish, no doubt something about Williamson’s mother. He was angry, frustrated in the way of weak men when compared to their superiors. Williamson was tall, light-haired, blue-eyed; Mendoza was short, dark, squat.
Williamson wiped his forehead, seized the elbow of a nearby Indian tech girl, and demanded they move forward. They were always delaying and double-checking their machines. No matter how many billions you spent on them.
“Yes, Mr. President, it’s good to go,” said the woman. “I’m going to pass over now.”
“That would be best, wouldn’t it?” said Williamson. Once FENCE was activated, people like her would need special authorization to get through. FENCE used hidden sensors and anthropometry–analysis of skin color, eyes, lips, hair, limb proportions–to statistically determine the subject’s DNA. This had been the trickiest thing, politically, because there were no DNA markers for citizenship.
There were markers, however, for having a Mexican background—to keep out illegals.
Or an Araboid one—to keep out terrorists.
Or African ancestry—again, for terrorists, and also to prevent Africans from trying to do an end-run around asylum agreements by coming from the South.
Williamson didn’t understand the science, but he liked to roll the complicated words around in his mouth—craniofacial anthropometry, baropodometry, DNA…
Congress had wrangled over legalities for months, while Williamson forced construction through via executive order. In the end, nativist sentiments had carried the day, despite the veritable shitstorm of scientific outrage, social media armageddon, and sour grapes filibusters: only people with majority European DNA would pass freely. Everyone else would have to go to a checkpoint, wait in line, and show a passport. It would be inconvenient for non-white citizens, but ask not what your country can do for you…
Williamson watched the Indian girl scurry to US territory. A brown-skinned person cringing past FENCE would go over well with his base.
“This is a momentous occasion for both our countries.” His amplified voice boomed out over the desert, rolling over brush and saguaro like a God’s.
“American ingenuity and hard work has ensured our continued prosperity. When I flip this switch, the border will be secure, law and order will once again prevail, and we’ll all be safer. Without further ado, I give you FENCE.”
Williamson made a show of grasping the handle of the lever, grinning into as many cameras as he could find, and flipping it to the active position. A hum went up from the nearest turret and a gasp from the audience. Some of them, judging by their swarthy skin and dark eyes or kinky hair, had a bit of a drive ahead of them to get to the nearest border station. Well, that’s how things were going to be going forward.
He stepped out from behind the podium, waved, and again flashed his signature bright smile. Time to exit, stage left, across the border and into the waiting motorcade.
Still waving and grinning, he strode into the empty space north of the platform. There was a whoosh, and something grabbed his arms and legs and viciously wrenched them, zapping every nerve on fire for an instant. Williamson landed on his back in the baking hot gravel.
“What—what’s going on?” he wheezed, as Secret Service agents, firearms drawn, formed a protective cordon around him. “Get the girl on the line.”
One of the agents, a beefy young man in black sunglasses, had a curt conversation through his earpiece. “She says—sir, she says FENCE has determined that you have over 50% non-Caucasian DNA…”
Williamson sat up, muscles aching. Back on the platform, Mendoza and the reporters were staring at him. There was utter silence in the desert.
Then the laughter started.