Trump's Disastrous Border Wall Plan
By: Spencer Koonce
The recent record-setting shutdown of the government of 35 days was a giant mess that could have been avoided. Having its roots in xenophobic views, the border wall proposal would never serve to benefit any group of people, and only inflate the ego of the President as he would fulfill campaign promises.
The shutdown came as a result of Congress’ arguments of funding for President Donald Trump's proposed wall on the Mexican border, in his efforts to curtail illegal immigration. The building of the wall was one of Trump's most infamous campaign promises and drew a staggering amount of support from his base, along with much criticism from both sides of the aisle.
Senior Marcus Belingheri thinks of the wall, “as a topic of illusion of security and appeal to voters. The money would be much more beneficial to Americans if spent on something such as public education reform or infrastructure. Immigrants have been demonized through American history and this is just the latest phase.”
Despite many Americans like Belingheri who oppose the wall, there still, however, seems to be an unwavering section of Americans that are adamant that the border is the only solution and will solve America's problems.
The resulting shutdown over allocating $5.6 billion to build the wall left over 800,000 federal government employees without their paychecks and many parts of the government unfunctional. Members of the Coast Guard went without pay during this time, affecting many families in Novato. Trump's budget proposal was also expected to only cover 215 miles of the approximate 2,000 mile border, and would be funded by taxpayers. This, of course, goes against his campaign promise to make Mexico pay for the wall despite previous and current Mexican presidents refusing to to pay for it.
Prior to his presidency, Trump infamously said of Mexican immigrants, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” He has used this reasoning as the main justification for building his wall, causing the “build a wall” chant to become popular among his supporters. He has made his discontent for illegal immigrants very clear thought his presidency, in removing DACA protections and frequently tweeting about the danger hispanic immigrants pose to the country. His policy of family separation and detaining children at the border has been widely recognized for its inhumane treatment of children (in addition to the death of two children in US Custody). This process of separating migrant children from their families and keeping them in camps is a shocking display of the lengths the administration is willing to go to.
Building a wall couldn't even curb the source of most illegal immigration from South American countries.
As Pew Research reports, the “Growing share of unauthorized immigrants were not people who had entered the country illegally, but had arrived legally and then overstayed their Visas.” A wall could do nothing to stop people who came into the country legally from doing this.
Stopping the smuggling of drugs from Mexico has been a primary justification for the wall. Illegal drugs are clearly a problem facing Americans and measures should certainly be taken to stop it, but many experts say that a wall is not this solution.
German Lopez of the The Washington Post reported, “drug trafficking through a legal port of entry is how most illegal drugs make it into the US. And this kind of smuggling will be totally unaffected by a wall put in place to block illegal border crossings, showing that even the toughest border security measures may be next to worthless for dealing with illegal drugs.”
As most drugs arrive through smuggling across legal entrances and not across many of the areas that Trump wants to build a wall, a wall would not be useful. There have also been many reports of tunneling under existing fortifications as well as various methods used to throw drugs over existing walls, things that a new wall couldn't stop.
Building a wall is an expensive solution that wouldn't work for a problem that is evidently decreasing. USA Today recently reported that, “Department of Homeland Security data shows that illegal immigration across the southern border is at historic lows – slightly more than 300,000 immigrants were caught crossing the border in 2017. That's down from a high of 1.6 million in 2000, according to Border Patrol data.” Illegal immigration to the US has been decreasing due to many factors, making a giant wall less necessary.
The use of this $5 billion seems like a lot of a money and that is because it is. It could have been better spent in many other areas. Investing in clean energy or helping to subsidize education would be far more beneficial uses of this money. These uses would have more of a substantial return for all Americans and address more pressing issues if spent in other areas.
Caron Oty shared her feelings about the wall.
“It's an incredible waste of money. I just feel we should not put so much money into something that benefit political agendas rather than benefiting other Americans,” she said.
On January 25th, Trump agreed to a deal that would fully open the government until February 15th. Negotiations remain where they were before the shutdown. Trump has announced that they are using this time to renegotiate while keeping the government functional and employees paid. Trump could later plan to use emergency powers to allocate the funding for his wall.
Compromise is a likely and effective solution that could benefit both sides without wasteful spending. Other effective border control methods could be agreed upon. Increasing staffing and improving technology at the border would be beneficial and support the Republicans desire for tighter security. Legislative reform and making clearer and more accessible legal pathways would also be a practical method to reduce illegal immigration. Building a wall may be a showy display of Trump’s campaign promises and vocal opinions, but would do little to fix any real problems.