Graphic by Dante DiMauro

TAKING SIDES: On Either Side of the Wall

April 21, 2019

Building a wall won’t effectively deter illegal immigration

Victoria Higgs
Sophomore

President Trump parades the idea of a border wall like it is a be-all-end-all solution to America’s problem with illegal immigration. Yes, the issue our country faces with undocumented immigrants is real. But the notion that the construction of a wall along the southern border will resolve this issue is, in every sense of the word, a delusion.

Trump loves to throw around words like ‘crisis’ and ‘chaos’ in an attempt to paint a portrait of a dangerous situation at the southern border. He even went so far as to make the obviously false claim that Mexico has been declared the world’s most dangerous country. The reason that the President is resorting to such deceptive tactics is simple–a plethora of evidence debunks any assertion that a border wall would be effective.

For starters, it’s imperative to note that the majority of undocumented immigrants residing in the United States did not enter through the southern border. According to reports from the Department of Homeland Security and the Center for Migration Studies, in 2017, 62% of illegal immigrants in the US originally came to the country legally but overstayed their visas, while the remaining 38% entered the country without inspection. This data is continuous with the increasing trend of visa overstays in the past seven years, and it renders Trump’s plan ineffective in targeting the heart of the problem.

Despite this, Trump makes the empty promise that a big, beautiful wall will significantly reduce the number of illegal immigrants entering the country. In the midst of threatening to declare a national emergency over the issue, he also conveniently leaves out the fact that illegal immigration has been on the decline for the past ten years. The number of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. peaked at 12.2 million in 2007 before a 13% decline to 10.7 million in 2016. It’s clear there is no reason to suddenly declare the problem a crisis, much less jeopardize the 800,000 federal workers who are without a job due to the government shutdown (which most Americans can agree is the President’s own fault, according to recent polls).

A further indication of the President’s ignorance is his insistence that the wall will prevent illicit drugs from entering the United States, a belief that directly contradicts the findings of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Nobody is disputing the prominent role of countries such as Mexico and Colombia in bringing drugs into the U.S. However, the DEA’s 2018 National Threat Assessment reveals that the majority of illicit drugs that pass through the southern border do so at legal entry points. The report states, “A small percentage of all heroin seized by CBP along the land border was between Ports of Entry (POEs). . . . The majority of the flow is through POVs (privately owned vehicles) entering the United States at legal ports of entry, followed by tractor-trailers, where the heroin is co-mingled with legal goods.” In addition, cocaine and methamphetamines, which are frequently sourced from Colombia, are shown to be entering the United States primarily by plane or boat as opposed to direct border crossings. The President also fails to acknowledge the fact that there have been 183 border-crossing tunnels discovered since 1990, in which the federal government has seized large amounts of illegal drugs. These tunnels are effective modes of transport for criminals in spite of the walls, fences, and border security we already have in place, and this won’t change with the President’s proposed plan.

A holistic view of the issue reveals that in addition to its shortcomings in preventing drug trade and illegal immigration, a border wall is harmful in many other aspects. Environmentalists have been opposed to a wall since Trump initially proposed the idea, as the DHS is given the power to waive the nation’s environmental laws and subsequently destroy the habitats of many endangered species as well as cause severe flooding issues in border states which has already resulted in destruction and, in one case, fatalities.

Ironically, while Trump defends the wall in saying that his goal is to preserve the nation and protect the American people, he has done precisely the opposite by allowing for a government shutdown to persist for the longest period of time in our country’s history. As this continues, national security weakens and all Americans, in addition to jobless federal employees, are the ones taking the hit.

Lastly, it is impossible to ignore the moral implications of such an idea. Trump’s methods of persuasion reveal that he does not really care about the issue of illegal immigration. Ultimately, an overwhelming compendium of evidence about undocumented immigration and illicit drug flow through into the U.S. shows that the construction of a wall along the southern border would be a useless waste of time, money, and resources. There is a reason that the majority of Americans are opposed to the spending of $5.7 billion for a border wall. Not only would it fail to address the issues Trump promises to resolve, but it is also built on lies that the President has manufactured in order to satisfy the base he made promises to during his campaign. From the twice-made claim that Mexico will pay for the wall’s construction to the ridiculously misleading statistic that crime would be reduced by 50%, it is nothing more than sophism at its finest. Trump said in an interview with New York Times editors on his campaign rallies, “You know, if it gets a little boring, if I see people starting to sort of, maybe thinking about leaving, I can sort of tell the audience, I just say, ‘We will build the wall!’ and they go nuts.” In his own words, Trump’s wall is nothing more than a fear-mongering attempt to fulfill an empty campaign promise. With this in mind, it raises the essential question: what would the wall mean for our country? It certainly does not stand for the American ideals that we so pride ourselves in.

 

Building a wall is necessary for border security

Konstantin Ditc
Senior

The federal government cannot agree on a budget for this year — more specifically 0.1% of that budget that the President wants to allocate for a wall on the Southern border. It is important to note that these 5.7 billion dollars would go towards building a partial steel barrier wall and increasing border security, but the mainstream media makes it seem like we’re about to build a 30 foot Great Wall of China and cement all ports of entry. The deal now also includes humanitarian aid for migrants, an extension of DACA and TPS, ability to file for asylum from home country, and disaster relief. It all seems fairly simple–securing borders is considered one of the first rights and responsibilities of any nation–so why is it such a big deal?

One of the main reasons why a physical barrier is good is to curb illegal immigration. Here is a quick rundown of why illegal immigration is a problem. We often hear that the US is “a nation of immigrants,” and therefore we should just let everybody in. Although it is true that about twelve million people came through Ellis Island from 1892 to 1954, all of them were coming in pursuit of a better life, and they knew there would be nothing to support them but themselves and financial opportunities. These people were forced to learn English and assimilate quickly. Today, in contrast, there are endless amenities of being an illegal immigrant, created by the safety net paid for by Americans. The state of California, for instance, subsidizes healthcare, in-state tuition, and grants licenses, while sanctuary cities shield illegals from federal law enforcement- even though most illegals do not even pay federal taxes [1], [2]. No matter one’s opinion on immigration at large, it is an obvious breach of security to have people coming through the border unchecked. And yes, illegal immigrants have a lower crime rate than average, however, if it is not zero, it is too high. If these people weren’t supposed to be here anyway, they shouldn’t be committing any crimes here at all.

Some say that a wall wouldn’t actually stop anything and that it isn’t worth the money. Obviously, a physical barrier works, and that is just common sense: walking through a field is far easier than climbing a 30-foot wall. The proposal does not include a solid wall all the way throughout the border, but it does include increased border security, so the “go around” argument doesn’t work either. The border patrol agents will readily apprehend anybody in those portions without a wall. By the way, they are the only ones who are truly credible on this issue, and the Border Patrol union president has voiced his support of the wall, as have many other agents. One does not have to search hard for an example of a working wall either. Israel saw a significant drop in terrorist attacks due to the decline in the number of terrorists crossing from Palestine after a wall and border security measures were put in place, [3].

Illegal immigration is not the biggest concern with having an unsecured border. After all, most immigrants are just trying to escape poverty and about half stay by expiring their visas. (Another reason to put more funding into ICE.) The major concern is the vast amount of drugs that pour into the US through Mexico; for instance, 90% of heroin, a drug that is responsible for killing about 100,000 Americans every year, is one of these drugs [4]. Just on Thursday, January 17, 705 lb of cocaine were seized at an open area of the border, and the suspects were able to flee back into Mexico. [5] Even if some portion of the drug trade does come through ports of entry, increased security would take care of that as well. Just cutting the number of drugs that come in through the border in half would save countless lives and keep even more people out of prison for drug-related crimes. In addition to that, in 2017, with the ineffective methods on hand, ICE apprehended 6,259 criminals between ports of entry plus 10,572 more were stopped at ports of entry. Most of them were gang members [6]. The wall would also decrease incidents such as the recent one in which a seven-year-old girl died shortly after crossing the border even though she was transported to the hospital in a helicopter. Her dad made her endure the journey through a desert, which led to her subsequent death upon arrival [7]. This would not happen if people knew that the border was not traversable. Finally, ICE has arrested 2,000 human traffickers in 2016, and identified over 400 victims, most of whom have traveled through the border [8].

Getting back to the politics, a government shutdown is not the best way to negotiate, but in this case, it is the only way, since the congressional Democrats admitted they will not approve any funding after the government is reopened. Although people are not getting paid, they will get their money through backpay, while those killed by illegals and drugs will never get their lives back. This is just the latest example of the Trump Derangement Syndrome, where Democrats oppose anything and everything done by the President even if it leads to hypocrisy. Chuck Schumer, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton all voted for a 700-mile border fence in 2006, and rightly so. Now, with a different White House, they would rather see the border in havoc and Americans without pay than hand Trump the win, although the difference between the 2006 fence and today’s wall is a matter of semantics. It is irrational to view this as a “Trump win” rather than an obvious security measure that the Democrats won’t fund. They do, however, continue giving money to the NEA, which spends millions of dollars on things like creating medieval smells in museums. The “he said Mexico would pay for it” argument really has no value: if you hope you’ll be given something you need and your hopes go astray, does it mean you don’t need it anymore? At the end of the day, Trump is willing to negotiate for the sake of this country, offering protection for the dreamers, while Chuck and Nancy are again showing that they do not care about illegal immigration, the safety of Americans, the shutdown or even DACA.

Sources:

[1] https://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-california-immigrant-rights-20150811-story.html
[2] https://itep.org/wp-content/uploads/undocumentedtaxes.pdf
[3] https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Peace/fence.html
[4] https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/state-department-at-least-90-percent-of-heroin-destined-for-the-us-comes-from-mexico
[5]https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columnists/drug-smugglers-bring-700lbs-of-cocaine-into-u-s-then-flee-into-mexico-across-border-with-no-physical-barrier
[6] https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/cbp-enforcement-statistics
[7] https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/the-latest-official-identifies-7-year-old-migrant-who-died/2018/12/14/173ad40a-ffb8-11e8-a17e-162b712e8fc2_story.html
[8] https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/ice-arrests-nearly-2000-human-traffickers-2016-identifies-over-400-victims-across-us

 

Taking Sides is a recurring feature in every issue of Blue Prints. Arguments will not be written by editors or necessarily staff writers. The page will consist of a question or topic with two opposing responses.
The question for the next issue is:

“Should businesses be able to deny a customer service based on their religion?”

Any student interested in arguing either side of this question should direct message Blue Prints on [email protected] It does not matter if students have written for Blueprints before.

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