The U.S.-Mexico border: a humanitarian and American identity crisis

President Trump's controversial border wall is more of a symbolic gesture of hypocrisy than effective counter-measure.
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Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

The media headlines have been inundated with coverage of the U.S-Mexico Border Crisis. President Trump was highly vocal during his presidential campaign bid that, as president, he would build a U.S. border wall. Mexico would fund it. This wall would protect Americans from illegal border crossings. According to Trump, most of those crossing the border are “drug dealers, criminals, and rapists”. Were that the case, as a U.S. citizen who lives twenty minutes from the Mexican border, I would have a major stake in this crisis. However, data and reality seem to paint a different picture.

Why “The Wall”?

Building a wall has been one of Donald Trump’s key campaign promises from the outset. “All Americans are hurt by uncontrolled, illegal immigration.”, he has stated. “We are currently out of space to hold them and have no way to promptly return them back home to their country.”. He has also cited that countless Americans are murdered by criminal illegal aliens. The number of homicides committed by undocumented immigrants a year is between 450-600, which is 450-600 too many. This national security problem coincides with the notion that illegal immigrants are an economic burden as well, taking advantage of the American system without contributing. The U.S.-Mexico border is 1,900 miles long. Currently there is 650 miles of barrier already in place. Trump intends to build an added 1,000 of barrier out of steel to prevent these illegal immigrants, claiming the terrain along the rest of the border is enough to deter activity.

Why hasn’t it happened?

Trump’s plan for a wall has largely been stalled. In a recent Gallup poll, 60% of Americans oppose major new construction of a border wall. Same goes for many American politicians. This past December, when Trump refused to sign a funding bill, he incited a 35-day long government shutdown. After being forced to reopen the government, the President declared a national emergency over the alleged border crisis. There are laws that the President can use in a national emergency, such as reallocation of military funds or building defense structures, that Trump can use to get around the lack of Congressional backing. A wide majority claim that the President is outside of his bounds, and it is in fact illegal for him to declare national emergency in this predicament.

What has been the effect?

Meanwhile, a real crisis has manifested itself at the border. Data shows that crossing at the border have steadily been declining before a crisis was declared. In fact, last year the DHS declared that the border “was more difficult to cross than ever.”. To curb the influx of illegal immigration, Attorney General Jeff Sessions imposed a “zero-tolerance” border arrest policy. This policy entails that even no matter who, even mother and child, will be detained for crossing the border at a non-standard crossing.

Just last month, 60,000 migrants were arrested, the majority of whom were families or children traveling alone or without a parent. U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement has no precedent or plan of how to reunite these families. Two migrant children have died while in custody with meager care. The exact type of crime and horror these migrants are attempting to escape have now trapped them at the border. This continues despite proven numbers that crime rates are not linked to the spike in illegal immigration.

This isn’t just a blemish on American history, it’s a large gaping wound. It’s a humanitarian crisis that has been exacerbated by a President doing everything in his power to appease his supporters, not the majority of Americans or the well-being of global citizen he is supposed to be a beacon of freedom for.

While unsuccessfully trying to strengthen American security, women and children are being abused, separated, and in extreme cases, dying. Perhaps going to the root of this problem and adopting and investing in a foreign policy that dives into the issues of why these migrants need to flee their homes could be more effective.

Either way, as Americans who universally believe in the inherent human right to freedom, we should be doing everything in our power to protect human freedom. Not put up a wall against it.

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