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Build Bridges Not Walls
“Big, beautiful wall”
On June 16, 2015, Donald Trump, which is now the current U.S president, proposed a speech announcing not only his candidacy but also his idea to construct “a great, great wall on our southern border.” Throughout his campaign, the specifics of the size of the wall have been constantly adjusted, until President Trump now intends to build a wall 1600 km along the 3200 km long border. Height wise, august of the same year he announced his proposal, the wall would have reached up to 30 feet. As of now, it has become 65 feet. It would take three entire giraffes, straddling on top of each other's shoulders for one to look over to Mexico.
Undoubtedly, with the immense size comes with a high price tag. To both construct and maintain yearly maintenance for the wall, the cost has been estimated to reach up to hundreds of billions of dollars. Not only that, but President Trump’s proposal on who would pay for this wall is just another hole in his idea. In 2016, August 31st, Trump stated in his speech that day, “We will build a great wall along the southern border, and Mexico will pay for the wall.” When the clip of his speech was posted on Twitter, Mexico’s President, Enrique Pena Nieto fired back Trump by tweeting his own video, which included him saying “Mexico will not pay for any wall.”
Just like the digits of the cost of this wall, the precautions are endless
Besides costing billions of dollars, the construction of the wall comes with many precautions. If the border wall were to be established, the environment would be fragmented and animal communities will be faced with difficulty when migrating. The U.S.-Mexico border is established right in between two biomes which provides a home to thousands of animals that migrate back and forth either seasonally or occasionally to obtain certain resources. The location of the wall would prevent them from properly doing so. Ranging from jaguars and grey wolves to pygmy-owls, at least 800 animal species would be affected, according to Gerardo Ceballos, an ecology professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. The wall would not only supposedly stop illegal immigration but also animal migration patterns.
Due to its immense size, the construction of Trump’s wall itself would be especially detrimental to the land as soil would be dug up, machines would be trampling around, trees and plants would have to be cut down and removed, and water sources would be polluted or covered.
Not only ecosystems, but the barrier is creating headaches for citizens. A rancher named Jacob Serapo has also been affected by the existing wall. Only a short 100 yards from his home there once was a well that he would use to fetch water for his family and cattle. However, as of the fence established in 2006, the well is now cut off from him and in Mexico. Only driving 4 miles would bring Serapo to the nearest water source.
Another problem the wall presents would be that due to its location, a Native American tribe would be spilt into two. A populous group of natives lives amongst a large piece of land which is within 62 miles around the border. Currently, the land provides a home to 34,000 people. The Tohono O'odham tribe has already agreed to have a vehicle stopping designed barrier established, however, have different thoughts on Trump’s executive order. ”If someone came into your house and built a wall in your living room, tell me, how would you feel about that?" stated Verlon M. Jose, the vice chairman of the tribe in an interview, “This is our home.”
A transformation of Mexico
One main focus of this barrier is on preventing illegal immigration of Mexicans.Yet, in the last three decades, the current statistics prove that Mexico has had a transformation. As the economy improves, so does the lives of Mexican citizens. Because of that, the number of people who want to immigrate the U.S. has dropped dramatically.
In a study interviewing hundreds of people a year in the Mexican state, Yucatan, performed by the Mexican migration field research program at the University of California at San Diego, found that the percentage of people planning to move into the U.S. in the next 12 months has decreased drastically. Wayne Cornelius, the director, found that during 2006, 24% of interviewees said yes. However, in 2009, only 8% did so. By 2015, only 2.5% answers were affirmative.
As of now, the improvement of the economy has made more than half of Mexicans categorized as middle-class people. Shannon K. O'Neil of the Council on Foreign Relations quotes that "Today, your average 15-year-old in Mexico is thinking about the quiz he's going to take on Friday, not about migrating to the U.S. to look for work,” These new trends are reshaping the immigration debate right before our eyes.
Much more than just a wall
Other than splitting up a native tribe, the main divide this wall would cause is between the United States and Mexico. Not only physically, but mentally this wall would cause a negative division and isolation between the nations. The monstrous structure is not only a cutoff from Mexico but also a representation of the United States view of Mexico being a parasite. Because of this, Trump's executive order has generated both fear and rage among Mexicans as well as Americans. Protest, boycotts, even the burning of a paper mache of Trump are just some the results his act has surged.
“By working together on a positive trade, safe borders, and economic cooperation, I truly believe we can enhance the relationship between our two nations,” says President Trump. In reality, If Trump continues on his plans ensuring “safe borders”, both “positive trade” as well as “economic cooperation” with Mexico would go straight down the drain. According to Christopher Wilson, a Mexico expert at the Wilson Center, about 5 million jobs depend on trade with Mexico. As well as some of the food resources Americans can find in their local grocery, ranging from bananas, avocados, and tomatoes.
Strengthen relationship, not security
Border security is still undoubtedly vital, as those who have entered the country under no inspection create a threat to not only the economy but the lives of the citizens. While President Trump believes a wall will prevent these negative factors, some would disagree. The organization, Friends of Friendship Park, believe that building good relations with Mexico would strengthen security and safety for all more than a bigger wall. By cooperating with each other, not dividing, America and Mexico may possibly put an end to the illegal smuggling of any kind along the southern border.
The representative Jose Serrano of New York recently declared that “we need more bridges, not walls.”
We should be helping not deporting
Currently, there are 11 million undocumented Mexican immigrants living in the United States and declares that they “have to go”. Even with the fact that only 1.6 million of 11 million have a criminal record. Most immigrants go to America and attempt to create a better life for them and their families. Some are escaping poverty, some are escaping violence back in their home country. Instead of deporting those who came to the U.S. for a proper reason or were there due to historical events, Trump should focus on helping immigrants in establishing themselves in the United States. Organisations that provide assistance for immigrant communities are mostly established based on nationality, such as the society for the protection of Italian immigrants. European groups like the Belgians, Germans, and Poles also have established aid organizations. National, government funded, immigrant aid organizations should be established instead of a police state that hunts down aliens and drags them back to their home country. Instead of fear upon innocent immigrants, the U.S. government should focus on assisting those who are undocumented. These organizations would work to accommodate immigrants not only financially, but also guide them through the process of receiving citizenship in the United States as well as learn English.”
Not only will these organizations offer fundamental assistance to immigrants, many of whom who just want to live in a better environment, but they also will give immigrants a sense of belonging and act as a warm welcome hug from the United States as a whole.
“Liliana” from myimmigrationstory, a website that allows U.S. immigrants to share their story in their own words, declared that when she had gotten her visa approved “It was one of the happiest days of my life” and that she could “finally live a life without fear.”