The Wall Won’t Solve it All

Posted on November 22, 2016 by

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It’s been the forefront of President-Elect Trump’s plan since day 1; building an impenetrable wall between the U.S – Mexico border. Its purpose? To bring illegal immigration to its knees and solve one of the U.S’ major crises. Supporters of the wall were quick to chant “Build a wall!” at Trump rallies all through the election, thinking that building a wall would be the answer to the nation’s immigration problem. What will the wall cost? Is it feasible to build such a structure in a four-year term? Will the wall do anything for the nation’s immigration problem? What about the other immigration solutions Trump has proposed?

 

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There is actually already fencing and boy was it expensive.

 

The U.S-Mexico border is just shy of 2,000 miles long from California to Texas. The wall itself will already cost $8-12 billion to simply build, not to mention staff and maintain. The U.S- Mexico Border is already secured by border patrol agents, who actually keep the economies of the border towns running. Currently, more than 20,000 agents are in charge of patrolling our nation’s borders. Training to be a border patrol agent requires a 58 day course at a specialized academy in New Mexico. In Todd Miller’s book, Border Patrol Nation,  he describes the day to day lives of those both working for the U.S border patrol and those having to live in a border town. The border patrol basically runs small border towns in Arizona, where children want to be agents when they grow up. Community colleges have classes that guarantee students admission into the New Mexico academy and those agents who are hired soon gain an aura of coolness that makes them feel above all else. Most encounter death on a weekly basis. In 2015, there were over 117 bodies recovered from the Arizona part of the U.S-Mexico border. This part is largely desert, where humanitarian groups sometimes leave out water, food, and clothes for those who try to cross. The Trump administration would have to consider the cost of building a wall through this terrane and the costs associated with staffing it. If there were to be increased checkpoints, say, one every 100 yards, with round the clock watch by a trained border patrol agent, the costs would quickly climb into the billions. Border patrol agents earn an average of $80,000 a year. An increase in salary might be a good hook for more to join the forces and increase staffing. What could this mean for taxpayers?

 

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Tis for your own good, Thomas. 

 

Trump also suggests mass deportation in a “humanely manner” of course, without breaking up families. There are an estimated 11.7 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S. A portion of those have U.S citizen children, some too young to even consider caring for themselves.

The immigration process is already backlogged years in advance. For those who “do it the right way,” there are around 2.5 million people as of 2015, on a waiting list for a family sponsored visa to stay in the country. Some visas require the applicant to go back to their home country and wait 5 or 10 years before being allowed back into the United States. Trump and his administration say that they want to focus only on the “criminals” which brings the number down to an estimated 2 million by his standards.

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Doesn’t that just look homely?

Even those convicted of crimes would not be immediately deported unless they signed a voluntary deportation order. Most would probably go to an immigrant detention center, one which is right here in Colorado right off of Peoria and Smith road. These are “civil detention centers” for immigrants, whether they have been convicted of a crime or not. The one on Peoria is privately owned by the GEO corporation and they have a quota they must fill each day of immigrants, as others around the country do. The daily cost per inmate at a detention facility is about $164 a day per person. The definition of a “crime” worthy of deportation is still unclear. Before any provisions to provide certain immigrants with work permits or any other forms of making a living, many went underground, with fake names and made up social security numbers, simply to find work. There are tales among the immigrant community of people selling the socials of their dead family members, only to ask for more money years down the road and hold the threat of reporting to federal agents if the purchaser refused to pay. This is by all definitions of the term, identity theft. Some immigrants work low skilled jobs for cash on the spot, or are day laborers. These may not pay taxes, though anyone documented or not can file taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Number provided by the IRS. Technically, this is tax evasion, a very hefty crime for someone just trying to get by. But we can’t just let horrible criminals take our jobs, so what can the Trump administration or any administration realistically do about it?

 

 

Not all aliens look like Invader Zim.

First off, the wall will do nothing for the millions already here. If the U.S is going to spend billions on border patrol, why not train them on more humanitarian methods of doing their jobs? Emergency training is part of the 58-day course, but it is unclear to what extent. The philosophy should be humanitarian aid first, strict enforcement later. Politicians need to understand that there are millions affected by immigration policies. Millions and their families, which would also affect a good number of American citizens. The wall that Trump boasts about seems to be a metaphorical wall, dividing the community into us versus them rhetoric that pins neighbor against neighbor. That wall costs nothing to build and can be maintained through twitter. Amnesty is an option, though a very unpopular one. Reagan did amnesty  as part of his administration, offering a helping hand through field workers. Of course, in the 80s, after that policy was implemented, everybody and their mother suddenly had documentation of working in the fields, so amnesty became unpopular. Times have changed, and the criteria have too. Now, migrant laborers are affected, yes, but working families make up a large part of those 11 million. If Trump were to grant amnesty, he and the GOP would have a very grateful voter base once those 11 million could vote. Talk of the wall is unrealistic and divisive and will ultimately lead this country nowhere. What we need are solutions, taking into consideration that these are 11 million human lives, and not just another statistic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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