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According to the New York Times, Pres­ident Donald Trump plans to divert $7.2 billion from the Pen­tagon to help build a border wall between the United States and Mexico. I Wiki­media Commons

History tells us that nations often resort to building a wall when ten­sions with neigh­boring coun­tries are high. According to the New York Times, Pres­ident Donald Trump plans to divert $7.2 billion from the Pen­tagon to help build a border wall between the United States and Mexico.

Though some­times it may seem that the current immi­gration crisis is over exag­gerated, we are engaged in a fight for the American her­itage we hold so dear and a country of cit­izens who under­stand this her­itage. Our her­itage lies within our ability to agree on certain issues that cement the ethical basis for America. The value of human life, limited gov­ernment, and indi­vidual respon­si­bility are the pillars upon which America stands. This great her­itage impresses on us the respon­si­bility to solve the immi­gration crisis. Part of that solution lies in a border wall. 

This is a problem rooted in what it actually means to be an American. The idea of cit­i­zenship in the United States is not merely a geo­graphic term or par­tic­i­pation in the American economy. It’s about upholding liberty, the rule of law, the value of human life, and human rights. These values define American society. 

Failure to secure the border makes it chal­lenging to ensure that those who become par­tic­i­pants in the American story share these values. A legal immi­grant becomes a citizen because they respect these values. An illegal immi­grant dis­re­spects them by not becoming a citizen at all.

A border wall between the United States and Mexico is neither an act of vio­lence against Mexico nor those from Central American coun­tries who hope to immi­grate to the United States. Instead, it is a proven way of stopping the flow of undoc­u­mented immi­grants in order to protect American culture and ideas. 

The vast majority of border walls today are built by nations in dan­gerous parts of the world who have found success by pre­venting illegal immi­gration. Israel, located in an area affected by political turmoil, erected a border wall on the West Bank in order to deter ter­rorism and illegal immi­gration. This strategy has proven to be 80% effective, according to Israel’s Foreign Min­istry. When inter­viewed about their border, Hun­garian foreign min­ister Peter Szi­j­jarto told Fox News, “Since we built a fence, and since the police and army have been there, we basi­cally have no illegal migrants on the ter­ritory of the country.”

If the United States seri­ously wants to solve the issue of illegal immi­gration, it is time to take a look at how the wall helps to make sure America stays American.

Coun­tries need secure borders. The more infor­mation the gov­ernment has on its immi­grant pop­u­lation, the better they can help immi­grants to inte­grate. Due to the current state of the visa system, there is a dis­connect. Some indi­viduals hoping to reside in the United States per­ma­nently abuse the visa system and overstay, unde­tected by the U.S. gov­ernment. About 40% of illegal immi­grants enter the country legally, but outstay their visas according to the non­par­tisan Center for Migration Studies. 

Now, there is a silent pop­u­lation of 10.5 million undoc­u­mented immi­grants as of 2017. 

Illegal immi­gration has taken a toll on gov­ernment welfare pro­grams. According to the Center for Immi­gration Studies, illegal immi­gration is respon­sible not only for a lower employment rate among less-edu­cated Amer­icans, but also lower wages. 

“Low-skilled native workers would be helped by the wall as they would face less com­pe­tition from illegal immi­grants. High-​skilled workers would face less com­pe­tition from immi­grants… who work in high tech­nology jobs,” the Center for Immi­gration Studies reported.

According to the Orange County Reg­ister, “These for­eigners are mostly hard­working, decent people. But they’re taking jobs that would have oth­erwise gone to American workers — and black Amer­icans are espe­cially hurt. The glut of foreign labor enables employers to hold down wages, making it harder for working-class Amer­icans to boot­strap their way into the middle-class.”

Mark Morgan, a border patrol chief under former Pres­ident Barack Obama, said that despite bipar­tisan support to stem illegal immi­gration, some­thing changed: “What changed is that at one point it was wanted and needed, and now, because we call it a wall, it’s immoral. Really? That’s what we’re talking about now? The size and width of the barrier is the delin­eation of what is moral or not?”

One of the most popular objec­tions to the wall is its price. The most liberal of these price esti­mates sug­gests the wall would cost around $20 billion, an amount that sounds stag­ger­ingly large, espe­cially from the per­spective of a tax-payer. However, the wall would cost only 0.0338% of the federal budget. This is just a fraction of what it would take to con­tinue financing gov­ernment pro­grams for low-income immi­grant fam­ilies, who cost the U.S. approx­i­mately $50 billion each year, according to the Her­itage Foun­dation. A border wall would, in fact, be cost effective.

Though a wall is not a perfect solution, seg­ments of walls along the U.S.-Mexico border have helped cut the flow of undoc­u­mented migrants entering the country. A section of the wall along the border near the town of Yuma, Arizona, has proven to be more than 90% effective, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Unfor­tu­nately, the wall has become a symbol of racism to many Amer­icans, who think erecting it is the national equiv­alent of spitting on Mexico. The truth, however, is that the wall is not for the purpose of excluding all Central American and Mexican migrants from the United States, but rather of pre­serving America from the neg­ative eco­nomic effects of a large pop­u­lation of undoc­u­mented immi­grants. 

The wall is a rational course of action for a country that is in dire need of self-def­i­n­ition. Building a wall  is the first step toward an America that allows immi­grants the real oppor­tunity to become Amer­icans, not just have better jobs.

 

Quin Calhour is a freshman studying biology.