The Wall, A Wrongheaded Idea

by JC Dufresne
for the “Progressive Views” column, Boerne Star

Plaque marking boundary between United States and Mexico
“USA Mexico Border” by Xomiele is licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

Democrats in Congress and across America want comprehensive immigration reform, Donald Trump wants to $15 to $25 billion dollars to fulfill a campaign promise that he would build a big wall. His wall is nothing more than a physical symbol of his anti-immigrant rantings which cater to his many regressive and sometimes racist supporters.

China built its own Great Wall and it failed to keep out the Mongols. Roman troops built Hadrian’s Wall across Britain to keep out the Picts, it also failed. Israel has a wall but its effectiveness is questionable due to the numerous mortar and missile strikes fired from the other side. 

Walls and fences are effective in prisons not because they alone keep prisoners in but because they are delayed long enough for guards to catch up to them. Trump’s wall is nothing if not closely monitored and if Border Patrol agents aren’t quickly dispatched when someone is crossing. So if we’re going to adequately monitor and staff a wall in order to make it effective why not just do the more cost efficient thing and just the cameras then increase monitoring and staffing? The answer is that a cubicle farm staffed with people watching dozens of remote video monitors isn’t the symbol Trump and his supporters’ desire.

There’s another reason Trump’s wall would be ineffective, it’s because at least 40% of undocumented immigrants crossed our border perfectly legally but then overstayed their visas. Nothing Trump has proposed addresses that problem. Trump also claims that his wall would stop drug smuggling but the facts are that the vast majority of drug smuggling comes on ships into our ports and once again he has no plan to solve that problem.

Instead of searching for and implementing real solutions to perceived problems Trump is attempting to force Congress to provide the funds for his wall without regard to the property rights of the landowners on the border which would lose their lands to the federal government through eminent domain or the environmental damage. Even though Trump said on national television that he alone would own a government shutdown over this issue he’s now desperately blaming Democrats.

If Trump really wanted to fix things instead of grand stand he could have sent a thousand immigration judges and interpreters to the southern border instead of 5,200 military troops. Trump’s supporters claim they have no problem with legal immigration they just want people to follow the rules and wait their turn. What they don’t tell you is that it can take 10 or more years under the current system and when people are fleeing violence, drought and hunger they can’t wait a decade. Those fleeing such life threatening conditions came to the border requesting asylum which is a lawful act under both U.S. and international law though you won’t hear that from Trump or his racist followers.

If all that’s not enough to tell you that the wall isn’t really about immigration then think about this, when Democrats suggest spending money on almost anything Trump and his congressional enablers demand to know how it’s going to be paid for but when House Republicans put $5.7 billion in border wall funding into the final appropriations bill of the year not a single one asked where how it would be paid for.

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