The border near San Diego. The buildings are in Mexico.

Craig Hoffman’s January 15 essay for building a wall is a Janus-faced argument.

On one level, he argues that building a wall “will greatly reduce the importation of drugs, guns and human trafficking that currently occurs from Mexico.”

On the another level, Hoffman hides or fails to acknowledge that the source of his arguments is the “Build that Wall and Mexico will pay for it” slogan from 2016. That slogan feeds on a sinister, subliminal message that is divisive and obscene. Now that campaign slogan has turned into a presidential priority and it is painful and costly for those forced to work without pay.

If, for a moment, we can set aside the zaniness of that political campaign rhetoric, Hoffman’s arguments fail for a number of level-headed reasons.

Sylvester Salcedo

First of all, to argue that locking or securing our homes, to keep our families and property safe here in Connecticut, is equivalent to America building a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border is laughable and silly. For safety and security,  Hoffman proposes that America must secure/lock up one side of her house, the side facing Mexico. What about the other walls?

By the way, the other three walls are not just the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, and Canada. They are also every international airport and seaport that traffics people in and out of the U.S. for business and fun from around the world. How do you secure the doors on those walls to have near 100 percent certainty that not one “illegal alien sneaks through” to start taking away jobs from Americans, to receive medical care and to commit horrific crimes? But Hoffman persists. The Hoffman-Trump answer is by building a beautiful wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. But now, the American taxpayers will pay.

Second, Hoffman argues without solid proof that the cost of the building the wall is dwarfed by the documented cost of medical care, education and incarceration expense for the undocumented population. I don’t buy it, but I’m open to reviewing objective, comparative statistics.

Internet searches do not offer convincing, apples-to-apples statistics. Conservative leaning writers have a set of figures. Likewise, Liberal-leaning advocates have the opposite calculations. But equally important for us to evaluate is the true cost benefit analysis between the “actual dollar value delivered” by the undocumented labor force’s services (11 to 12 million of them) if Americans had to pay “actual cost” for that collective labor worked.

Just imagine every restaurant, farm, house cleaning, child/elderly care, roofing and landscaping/snow removal services in Cheshire or in my hometown of Orange without the help of the unacknowledged, underpaid “undocumented labor” services. Would we save more money/taxes and really be safer because we will spend even more tax dollars to build the Hoffman-Trump wall? Show me proof of that unbiased, comparative cost report.

Finally, Hoffman argues that “a wall will greatly reduce the importation of drugs, guns and human trafficking.” I disagree on drugs, guns, and human trafficking. No wall will stop drug trafficking. Drug trafficking relies on the basic American-as-apple-pie economic concept of supply and demand. If there is demand, it will be filled. You’re willing to spend/waste tax dollars to build an impregnable $5 to $100 billion wall? There’s the old reliable Caribbean Sea route of the 1980s. Or tunnels, drones, airplanes, mule swallowers, or breast/buttocks implants. Maybe even catapults, just like it was 1304, during the Siege of Stirling Castle. It’s Economics 101.

Guns? What guns? We don’t need no stinking guns. We are the Americans. We have plenty of guns. We are awash in guns. Gracias.

Human trafficking? Tragically yes. Yes, but a common sense-based, truly thought out comprehensive immigration policy that incorporates a fair and reasonable process to include a smart guest worker program (fair wages, safe work conditions and flexible cross border access) could eliminate much of the current human trafficking activity through Mexico and elsewhere. Comprehensive immigration policies and accountable supervision for controlled movement of people using high tech, such as, biometrics, phone records tracking, employer verification standards that are enforced and reviewed strictly and regularly could be less costly and more effective than a wall. We have technology to track every man, woman and child going in and out of Disneyland, every day. We can track everyone going in and out of this country. Every day.

To conclude, I support sensible, enforceable, multi-platform, cost-effective border security measures at the US-Mexico border and at all entry/exit platforms, but I will not give in to an openly divisive campaign slogan to fund an ineffective, wasteful, and expensive 2,000 mile wall to satisfy an egomaniacal, politics-based policy. Most important, we must renew and reaffirm our uniquely American commitment as a nation of immigrants with zest, pride and humane values.

Accordingly, as a Connecticut voter, I respectfully disagree with my neighbor from Cheshire and just say “No” to a wall. A wall is so, so medieval visually, practically and spiritually speaking.

Sylvester L. Salcedo lives in Orange. He is a retired US Navy veteran (LCDR, USNR) with 20 years of active and reserve service from 1979-1999. Also, he is a veteran of the U.S. military’s War on Drugs in cooperation with the Department of Justice from 1996-1999.

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4 Comments

  1. “it is painful and costly for those forced to work without pay”—or a terrific opportunity to examine how much govt service is being accomplished without many of these 800,000 federal employees and therefore begin to remove deadwood from our bloated federal workforce. I agree with this author’s assessment that a wall will do little to stop drug trafficking due to the “economic concept of supply and demand”. However, this same “economic concept” ALSO drives sex trafficking—and a wall WILL put a huge dent in that. You can’t smuggle a child sex slave into the country via buttocks implants or catapults.

    1. So you believe that victims of sex trafficking are being forcibly brought across the un-walled border? The vast majority of people in this country illegally have come in through ports of entry and simply overstayed their original visas.

      Read this from the National Human Trafficking Hotline (https://humantraffickinghotline.org/what-human-trafficking/human-trafficking/victims)

      Foreign nationals who are trafficked within the United States face unique challenges that may leave them more susceptible to trafficking and exploitation. In 2013, 32 percent of calls with high indicators of human trafficking to the NHTRC referenced foreign nationals. Recruiters located in home countries frequently require such large recruitment and travel fees that victims become highly indebted to the recruiters and traffickers. These fees are inflated far beyond cost in order to create economic instability and dependency on the new employer or trafficker. Traffickers leverage the non-portability of many work visas as well as the lack of familiarity with surroundings, laws and rights, language fluency, and cultural understanding in order to control and manipulate victims.

    2. “bloated federal workforce”? Really? Of course you offer zero facts or even a single relevant example. But apparently you don’t think the IRS should process returns, or think we need all the backup personnel for air traffic controllers, or think we need food inspection, or think federal contractors need to plow the roads or deliver food?

      Apparently you don’t even know that now over half of those workers have been recalled or were never furloughed at all–but they are all working without pay. And every day the Trump Administration discovers that more and more are “essential”–and so is recalling them without pay. They may all soon be classified as “essential” and be back at work, effectively in servitude. Trump is surely pleased as he regularly stiffed workers, contractors, and nearly anyone and everyone who worked for him.

      Some federal workers are now not taking life-saving medications; some federal workers are now in danger of losing their homes or facing other financial penalties. Federal contractors–losing now $200 MILLION a week–will never get repaid. Some of those businesses will now go bankrupt–businesses destroyed, jobs lost.

      And in the end Americans will die (or have died) because of the callous shutdown–whether people in unmanned national parks or because of fatigued traffic controllers or because of understaffed FBI offices or because families are stranded because their roads remained unplowed.

      This is a remarkably callous, uninformed comment; we all deserve better.

  2. The most powerful argument for greatly enhancing our semi-open border with Mexico is to restrict the awesome flow of illegal drugs continue to devastate inner cities throughout America. Costing thousands of lives wasted through drug related gang violence and tens of thousands of inner city residents involved in the drug trade being incarcerated yearly. Of course most Americans live outside the inner cities. So the travails of the drug related crime within the inner cities is far from their thoughts.

    Anyone who claims that Mexico is not the source of import of illegal drugs in the US is sorely misinformed. Interdictions by sea by the US Coast Guard are relatively modest compared to the importation by land. Sadly Mexico is distinterested in either maintaining its borders nor restricting drug flow – a major industry in Mexico.

    Finally, every western nation and most others throughout the world control their borders. Why not the US. Unless we seek to encourage everyone to enjoy our prosperity.

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