by Luca Zislin | Editor
Nothing highlights the Kafkaesque failure of government bureaucracy and childishly stubborn federal government quite like the government shut down. Hundreds of Americans, some of which living paycheck to paycheck, remain unpaid while the national parks fall into ruin for the sake of a border that has already been fortified. After photos of migrants being brutally tear gassed at the border went viral, our executive still thought it is necessary to put the functions on the government on an indefinite hold to secure funding for a “see-through steel wall.”
President Trump proves that he will go to bat for the wall at all costs. That being said, we ought to explore the proposed wall, why conservatives are so adamantly defending it and the true nature of illegal immigration.
Trump asked for $18 billion over the next ten years to fortify and extend the current barrier. The actual proposal details 316 miles of additional barrier by September 2027 and 407 miles of replacement or secondary fencing. During his presidential campaign, Trump made the claim that the government of Mexico was going to fund the wall. However, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has adamantly refused to fund the wall.
With such a large spending package requested, Trump offered the compromise that he would grant legal status to roughly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants through the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program, popularly known as DACA.
Two-thirds of the proposed wall exists in private or state-owned land, most of which in Texas. The Trump Administration will likely exercise imminent domain to encroach such land, making it likely legal challenges will serve as hurdles to construction.
Trump claims the border is necessary for “good boarder security.” The Department of Homeland Security published a press release in December titled “Walls Work.” The DHS claims the wall will be effective in preventing illegal entry and drug smuggling. Not everyone agrees.
The Cato institute theorizes the wall could become a maintenance liability. They further their case against the wall by claiming drug smuggling primarily occurs through tunneling and the wall, through making ground transport more risky, would only make tunneling more lucrative.
The debate over the wall’s ability to stop illicit activity can not be settled until its built. The debate regarding the justification is a bit more clear. Undocumented immigrants account for less than 4% of the total population. Undocumented immigrants are actually less likely to commit crime than native citizens. Northwestern University could not find a correlation between immigrants and violent crime.
The numbers concerning immigrants and the figures behind the wall are disconcerting juxtaposed. The statistics make it seem highly unlikely undocumented immigrants are a nearly twenty billion dollar problem.
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