A "Wall" Wastes America's Resources

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Would you guess that more immigrants are coming into the U.S. today than ever before? Do you believe that there are “caravans” of Mexican immigrants heading for the American border as you read these words? Are we facing the imminent threat of our borders being overwhelmed by immigrants?

Consider some facts about recent immigration trends. In the five-year period between 1995 and 2000 more than 2.27 million Mexicans illegally crossed the border. Democrat Bill Clinton was the president during these peak years of illegal crossings.

When Republican George W. Bush served as president between 2001 and January 2009, the rate of illegal crossing dropped. In fact, during the second half of Bush’s term and the first year of Democrat Barrack Obama’s presidency, there was a net outward migration of Mexicans to Mexico of 20,000.

Between 2009 and 2014, the total out- migration of Mexicans hit 140,000 – that is more people leaving than coming in.

As of 2017, the number of illegal crossings had fallen to its lowest level in 46 years. There were 304,000 illegal crossings compared to 1.64 million in 2000. Better law enforcement efforts, a Mexican economy that was doing better, and an enhanced immigration enforcement policy by Obama that had immigration rights groups harshly criticizing him, all contributed to the lower numbers. During Obama’s years as president annual illegal crossings fell by nearly 500,000.

As for that caravan of 1,000 or more immigrants making a beeline for the U.S. border – well that isn’t entirely what these political refugees are doing. Yes, some of the immigrants, many from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, are traveling to the U.S. border – not to cross illegally, but asking for asylum as people fleeing political and criminal gang persecution.

“We didn’t leave our countries just because we wanted to,” El Salvadoran refugee Zelaya Gomez told the Associated Press. “It’s for the safety of our children.”

The caravan isn’t a spontaneous gathering of immigrants seeking to cross the border. Rather, it is “an annual, symbolic event held around Easter each year to raise awareness about the plight of migrants and has never left southern Mexico, though some participants then continue north on their own,” the AP reports. Many in the caravan intend to stay in Mexico.

President Trump tries to raise fears with his claims of vicious crimes committed by immigrants, are all drug dealers, and claiming they steal jobs from Americans. But we know that statistics show that undocumented immigrants are less likely to commit a crime than an American citizen born here. We know they fill jobs that Americans won’t do and we know that we desperately need immigrants to fill job openings in rural Minnesota.

Trump is pushing for the construction of a wall that could cost between $20 billion and $50 billion. It would require millions annually to maintain. If the history of government contracts tells us anything, it is that the cost will be twice as high and the project takes twice as long as projected. His demand comes at a time when we are on our way to a $1 trillion deficit by 2020.

Mexico isn’t going to pay for it. It was an absurd claim when it was made and has been proven so. That is why American taxpayers are now being asked to pick up the bill.

America’s border with Mexico stretches nearly 2,000 miles traveling through rivers, valleys, deserts, hills and mountainous areas. There is the Pacific Ocean at one end and the Gulf of Mexico at the other. It winds along the Rio Grande River the entire southern border of Texas – 1,254 miles. For 600 miles along the Texas border with Mexico, the land is remote and wild with no cities along it.

The border also travels along the southern boundaries of New Mexico, Arizona, and California.

There are hundreds of miles of vehicle barrier fencing along the border in remote areas, but a fence is no barrier to people determined to cross into America. Slated walls you can see and talk through block some more populated areas of the border. Wire fencing with barbed wire, wire mesh fencing on posts, metal paneling and concrete walls are all used as border barriers.

Due to treaty provisions with Native American tribes, private property rights, and floodplains, vast stretches of the Mexican- U.S. border in Texas doesn’t have a fence. More than 100 Texans have sued the federal government to stop a wall from being built on their land, blocking views of Rio Grande - imagine the government saying it was going to construct a fence on your beach blocking the view of a lake.

As you would expect on such diverse terrain, there are many kinds of soils. Extensive studies are needed to determine the type of footings required to ensure concrete walls didn’t tip over after a relatively short time. Those studies could take years.

A harsh environment ensures the constant need for repairs and upkeep.

We don’t need a $20 to $50 billion medieval wall along our border with Mexico. Our computer technology married with drones and surveillance cameras and enhanced funding for the Department of Homeland Securityfor additional border agents would be more effective.

Unlike the Great Wall of China, which is a tourist attraction, an American wall would be more like the Berlin Wall - ugly, divisive and eventually torn down. People have always found ways around, over, under, and through walls.

We need immigrants in America to work on our farms, in our dairies, in our manufacturing plants, and to create new businesses on main street. We need their children in our schools. The Republican-controlled Congress must pass a reasonable immigration law, but so far has failed to do so because of political games and worry about satisfying a narrow base that is anti-immigrant.



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