President Obama, in 2005, called for comprehensive border security, a topic that has remained at the forefront of political discourse for decades. Today, it looks like the only option we have is to build a wall along the southern border that spans 1,954 miles, a length that is not easily rationalized by the average American.
The wall would be anywhere from 30 to 55ft tall and will go as deep as 10ft. A project this size is costly, and there are a number of different estimates on how much the wall could cost. FOX News reports the wall, including materials, yearly maintenance, and labor, would cost $25 billion. Other sources estimate that the wall could cost up to $67 billion to complete.
Where would this money come from?
I am a Democrat. One that is involved in the community, one that has worked on a very contentious US Senate race, and one that loves to grapple with issues that relate to safety and homeland security. I am a fan of comprehensive border security because, like President Obama said when he was a senator, we simply cannot allow people to pour into the United States when we do not know who they are, but the wall is a ridiculous idea and a waste of taxpayers' money.
The immediate argument becomes, "Well, so many other countries across the world have walls that work," or "We need to keep criminals out of our country." I understand these arguments and I understand the fear that other citizens may have, but these arguments are invalid.
Other borders that have fences, walls, and/or militarized barriers do not fit the situation that we have on our Southern border. India and Pakistan, The Gaza Strip and Israel, Israel and The West Bank, Egypt and Gaza Strip, North and South Korea, and Hungary and Syria are a handful of examples of borders with walls that divide countries and people. However, their experiences include conflict, which is something that is vacant from our experience down South.
The US/ Mexico border is different. We are not at war with Mexico. We are not at war with any of the countries that migrants are coming from. The people that are coming here are escaping violence and famine because that is the only option they have. If they stay, they die. If they leave to come here, they may still die but it is worth the risk.
We forget that almost 50 years ago, US influence began destabilizing countries by protecting our economic interests, supporting rebel groups in civil wars, and waging the war on drugs. Since the US did not have any part in rebuilding any countries affected by our foreign policies, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras, amongst others, were left with organized crime and crumbling governments.
Refugees today are likely targets for gangs or cartels, are escaping sex slavery, or do not have the resources to stay in their home countries, but we label these human beings as criminals- Murderers, rapists, drug and human traffickers, but a study conducted by the CATO Institute found that Migrants were 25% less likely to be convicted of homicide than native-born Americans, 11.5% less likely to be convicted of sexual assault than native-born Americans, and 79% less likely to be convicted of larceny than native-born Americans.
I am not arguing for open borders. The United States does not have the infrastructure to support that spike in population, but an archaic solution to a very 21st-century problem is nonsensical. Instead of spending $30 Billion on a wall, let's spend $30 Billion on a system that helps people contribute to our economy. Instead of spending $30 Billion on a wall, let's spend $30 Billion on a policy that will rehabilitate the governments that we destroyed. Instead of spending $30 Billion on a wall, let's spend $30 Billion to help HUMAN BEINGS find opportunity in "the land of opportunity." Instead of shutting down the government over $5.7 Billion, let's spend $5.7 Billion to work across the aisle and find a solution that is in the best interest of the American people, our economy, and the people who are risking their lives to come here.
The narrative of the United States in the world should be one that reflects empathy and innovation. This should be a place where we welcome those who come peacefully and are willing to contribute to society in order to find a better life. The majority of those who are coming here seek a fresh start. Who are we to reject those who are looking for "The American Dream"?