An argument against the wall
What about our seaports, coastlines, airports -- and American values?
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.
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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