More than a year ago I wrote about a poll by the Pew Research Center that revealed support for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border was strong. It still is, and now that Donald Trump is our president-elect, many wonder if he’ll make good on his campaign vow.
As it was then and now, building such a wall is unrealistic.
The poll showed that general public support for a border wall hasn’t changed much, with just under half of the country supporting the construction of a wall.
But a look inside the numbers shows that members of both parties are going in the opposition direction on the issue.
Support for a wall has increased among Republicans, rising from 65 percent in 2007 to 73 percent now. That’s an increase of eight percent. Nearly three of every four Republicans support a wall.
But support for the wall has dropped by an equal amount among Democrats. They’ve gone in the opposite direction, from 37 percent supporting the wall down to 29 percent. That’s less than one in three Democrats.
The overall result is that support remains unchanged.
Donald Trump falsely suggests that building a wall will solve the country’s immigration problem.
Trump thinks a border wall is a simple thing. It’s not.
As I wrote in The Dangerous Divide
, winner of the 2015 International Latino Book Award for current affairs, a border wall would be expensive, a near physical impossibility, and ineffective.
Much of the U.S.-Mexico border is in harsh, rugged, and remote terrain–some of the most inhospitable in the world. That’s why it’s favored by human smugglers. And, it’s why the number of dead migrants found in these regions is increasing. I noted that in a previous blog posting.
While building a wall may be technically possible, such a project could easily take a decade or longer. Estimates put the costs of it in the tens of billions of dollars. Is this how we want to spend our hard-earned tax dollars?
Such a project will only spur more in-migration by those hoping to beat the placement of the final brick. And, once built, it will only insure that the estimated 12 million or more undocumented migrants already here will certainly stay, knowing that once out, they’ll never be able to return.
The wall also does not resolve the situation of the 12 million undocumented migrants already here. Trump’s remarks suggest that the U.S. should round up these 12 million people and deport them.
Really? Such a suggestion conjures images of the German Nazis rounding up people for their death camps. Is that the way we do things in America?
Trump’s calls for a wall and deportations reveal a serious disconnect from reality. The estimated 12 million undocumented workers in the U.S. provide a vast amount of labor that many Americans won’t do.
They cultivate the land, pick the crops, build the houses, nail the roofs, landscape golf courses, clean the hotel rooms, cook restaurant food and wash the dishes, etc.
They provide critical labor that is the underpinning of the U.S. economy. Without their low-paid labor, much of the services and products in America would cost much more than they do.
Yet, our archaic and brutal immigration laws keep these critical workers in the shadows of the law, leaving them to be victimized and subject to extortion and intimidation.
Their American dream is a nightmare.
A simple and easy solution is for the U.S. to restore a wide-spread guest worker visa system for those who want to work in this country. It would allow these migrant workers to earn the money they desire and return to their home country when they want.
It would allow the U.S. government to keep track of who’s in the country, where they are, and what they’re doing.
Instead, our presumptive leader Trump continues to suggest we build a horribly expensive and virtually impractical wall. It only stokes fear and hatred, more of which we don’t need.