The Great Wall of Racism?

Jeffery Doherty and Boris Kaplan, Reporters

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Trump would build a wall along the US-Mexico border to stop illegal immigrants from illegally entering the United States if he were to be elected president. Currently that is a plausible reality since he is currently the Republican front runner. According to recent polls, he currently has 40% favor among Republican voters, while second place candidate Ted Cruz has about 20%. If the situation does not change soon, Donald Trump will be nominated as a candidate and possibly win the White House. If he does win and then tries to implement his plan of building the wall, how reasonable will it be?

Across the US-Mexican border there are numerous geographical challenges that face the construct of wall. From West to East there are: Deserts, Savannah (desert with some plants), mountains, hills, dunes, hard rocky soil and even craters. While there are already border “fortifications” as in checkpoints and stretches of fencing, a lot of this land is lightly patrolled with no walls at all. The wall would have to go, if by Trump’s plan along the whole border, through rugged terrain and even cities. For example El Paso on the US side, and Ciudad Juarez on the Mexican side, are divided by a highway and small checkpoints. These two cities are essentially a “shared city,” while although divided by a border, for nearly a century that border has experienced shared culture and had a sense of community towards each other. Though there were recent increases in border security due to crime in Juarez, it largely remains easy to move to and from both sides.

With rugged terrain and other obstacles, how much would it cost to build? Billions. $5.1 – $5.9 billion according to CNBC and Poltico. That’s without upkeep, which would cost roughly $750 million per year. The US Federal Budget is $3.8 trillion, which most of is not optional, and we have $21 trillion in debt! With crumbling infrastructure, homelessness, poverty, and many other issues facing the nation, is it really worth spending so much money on the wall?  Trump says yes, and according to his website, “The cost of building a permanent border wall pales mightily in comparison to what American taxpayers spend every single year on dealing with the fallout of illegal immigration on their communities, schools and unemployment offices.”  Besides, he’ll make Mexico pay for it!  Though there are no legal means of forcing Mexico to pay, and through negotiations, Mexico will not be willing to pay billions to the US, a nation with a nearly 16 times larger economy.  Trump will do it anyway, because he claims he is a good negotiator. Even though a spokesperson for the Mexican President Enrique Pena Neito said that the idea is ridiculous.

What are the reasons for building the wall in the first place? Trump and his supporters cite that illegal immigrants will do the following: take jobs, smuggle drugs, kidnap people, bring in cartels, rape, murder, and do other horrible things. According to Trump, this is most, not some, most of all illegal immigrants, as he said so to his supporters in numerous speeches. This is where the real reason for the wall emerges: racism, xenophobia and nativism.

Grouping together an entire race or ethnicity, and judging them negatively on the actions of a few, is both a generalization and racism. The fear of violence and crime is racist as most Mexicans and illegal immigrants are not criminals.  Less than 7% commit violent crimes compared to US having 1% of its entire population in jail (though mostly for nonviolent drug offenses). Even with that, crime rates in the US are dropping. It’s not that illegals don’t commit crimes, a few do, but to judge all of them based on that is racist.

According to the Pew Research Center, there are around 10-12 million illegal immigrants living in America with about half of them from Mexico. Let’s say by most of them being bad people, Trump means around 50% of Mexican; sounds reasonable. That’s around 2 million murderers, rapists, kidnappers and other horrible human beings are in America right now! No wonder we need the wall, right? The problem comes from the fact that illegal immigrants make up 5.1% of the U.S. labor force. From the Pew Research Center, in 2012 alone, 8 million illegals either worked or were looking for work. That’s the other part. Hard working people that make up 1/20th of a 160 million person workforce, doing unskilled or partially skilled labor, from janitorial services to construction. That’s most illegals. Stopping, or attempting to stop this flow of workers would be a burden on the U.S. economy. These immigrants, though illegal, boost the U.S. population and fuel a growth in the number of young adults that would be available through naturalization for work in the near future. If the wall were to be built, immigration wouldn’t suddenly stop, it would be slowed down, and illegal immigration would still happen. Besides, they can just build tunnels under the wall, already a common smuggling method used by illegals and drug cartels.

With an incredible cost to the country, the wall would become a symbol of how dumb our nation can get. A better way to “make America great again” as Donald Trump put it, would be to allow more immigrants in, and have citizenship be a faster, while making citizenship more accessible. According to the poem by an immigrant called The New Colossus, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,”, shall we adhere to this or only do it to those immigrants who are already here, as the U.S. is a nation of immigrants. The boost in our workforce and the diversity that would come from immigrant cultures would be closer to the values of the U.S.A., while greatly improving our international reputation.

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