Jacob Conrad, Staff Writer
“Build that wall!” Everyone has their own reaction to that phrase, whether it’d be to immediately start chanting or gagging. It is an iconic phrase, one of many that helped Donald Trump get in the White House. One of his many big promises to keep America safe, to protect the American people, a sentiment we can all appreciate, even if we don’t approve of his method. But for the past month, this wall has only served to hurt the American people.
The border wall has been at the heart of the most recent government shutdown, which at 35 days has been the longest in history. The White House had demanded that Congress allocate $5.7 billion for the building of the border wall, and when they couldn’t agree on a plan that fulfilled the president’s wishes, their plans were denied. Again and again. Eventually, the president and the House came to an agreement, to reopen the government for three weeks and continue budget discussions. Congress has come to an agreement to allocate $1.38 billion for increased border security, which does include some improvements to existing barriers, but no funding for Trump’s great wall.
As we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel of this shutdown, it is hard to ignore the casualties of its endurance. The fact of the matter is the wall that is meant to protect us has already done the exact opposite before it is even in the process of being built. Trump’s stubbornness has put the livelihood of 800,000 federal workers at risk, leaving them without pay for over a month, all for his wall.
The wall has already done enough harm to the American people, which begs the question, what good would it do? The answer, not a whole lot.
The current administration’s descriptions of the southern border would lead you to believe that it is a hellish barren landscape, a silk road for criminals to effortlessly smuggle drugs into the U.S. Yes, around 90 percent of heroin comes from the southern border, according to the National Drug Threat Assessment done by the Drug Enforcement Agency, but it is smuggled through legal points of entry, and only a minuscule amount is smuggled between those points.
The other contraband supposedly brought across the border are illegal immigrants and criminals. This is also not true. Of the approximately 900,000 people who immigrate illegally the United States through the southern border, nearly 700,000 of them enter lawfully and just continue to stay in the U.S. Among these immigrants, only seven were actually on a terrorist watchlist, reports the Department of Homeland Security. There is also no data that shows immigrants, legal or illegal, committing more crimes than native-born citizens.
If we want to stop illegal immigration, we should make the process of immigrating legally easier. People don’t uproot their entire lives and illegally enter our country just because it’s easier; they do it because they need to. They aren’t running from good homes and steady jobs, they are running for a better, safer world. They are human beings, looking to make a better life for themselves and their children. Building a wall would just add another barrier to safety for them and put further strain on the American people and it’s economy, all for the sake of an unfounded ideology built upon paranoia and speculation, nothing else. The wall is not worth $5.7 billion, or $1.38 billion, it is worth nothing.