The student newspaper of the Ramaz Upper School

The Rampage

The Wall

As the new presidential administration settles into the White House, questions have arisen as to whether President Trump will uphold his campaign promise to build a wall on the US bor- der with Mexico. Would building the wall actually be a positive change in US immigration law?

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Beck: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, bear with me. This has been (and will continue to be) a trying time for anyone following political news, no matter which party they belong to – it has been almost impossible to keep up with the flurry of executive orders and statements flying out of the White House. One of candidate Trump’s biggest promises was to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border (his reasoning being, and I quote, “they’re rapists”), but as we all know, only a fraction of the things said on the campaign trail make it all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Even if I cast aside everything I believe in – throwing all of my anti-Trump bias aside – and said that we did need to deal harshly with the issue of undocumented immigration to the United States, I don’t think the wall would be the right answer. Would it really work? Would it be worth the estimated $15 billion? If we’re willing to throw away that much money on a fence, it better be made out of solid gold. No matter how high we build it, it’ll still be scalable – the only way to truly protect a border is to have patrols stationed closely together to make sure that no one’s climbing over, which already renders the wall superfluous. If the guards are there anyway, what’s the purpose of the extra barrier?

Kahn: Although we may not need a huge looming wall, a fence may suffice. Statistics show that in countries in Europe where a fence has been put up all around the border, illegal immigration has dropped by over 80%. Whether or not people can climb this wall, the additional psychological effect of a wall may still be powerful. Certainly, a sizable number of people trying to get in illegally will be turned away by the challenge of scaling a wall, especially since the odds of being caught in the process are much higher.

Beck: These people – the ones who are trying to get into our country, the ones that are grasping for a better life – have already gone to dire measures to even make it to the border. What makes you think a wall emblazoned with our noble leader’s name is really going to be the thing that stops them? They’re hungry, tired, and desperate people who have fled violent situations; they have no choice but to keep moving forward, even if it involves climbing over a fence. When people truly have no other choice, they will find a way to get what they want. Besides, America, the country founded by the immigrants – the one built on the “huddled masses” – has no right to be trying to keep these people out anyway.

Kahn: Although only a small percentage of Mexican immigrants are “rapists” and other criminals, the reality is that even a couple more criminals can be disastrous for our citizens. Lives can be ruined or lost. First of all, leaked FBI data by Breitbart Texas shows that the majority of terrorist encounters took place in border states, thus showing that terrorists are able to enter our country through Mexico. It is statistically proven that a significant number of illegal immigrants from Mexico end up in gangs. Another substantial number of these illegal immigrants is involved in drug dealing. Part of Trump’s agenda involves cracking down on the issue in the United States of illegal immigration. While Obama was more in favor of stopping deportation of illegal immigrants, Trump has decided to avoid deportations before they even become necessary by preventing people from sneaking over the border, which he claims can only be achieved in one way: building a wall.

Beck: The issue here isn’t imported criminals, it’s domestic ones. Nobody’s perfect – and we’re sitting here breeding homegrown terrorists, entirely nearsighted; we’re blind to our internal issues as we blame it all on people who are coming into the country. If anything, these newcomers are willing to work harder and for less than the privileged, entitled masses who were lucky enough to be born here. If any criminals would happen to be among the newcomers, though, we’d deal with them the same way we deal with any other lawbreakers among us. We’ll prosecute them and put them on trial and likely end up jailing them, but it’s not worth it to make thousands of people suffer because of one or two miscreants who happen to belong to their racial group. By the same logic, we should round up and deport all white supremacists because Dylann Roof decided to go shoot up a church in South Carolina, but I don’t see anyone calling for that to happen.

Kahn: There are going to be “domestic” terrorists no matter what. The point is that we’re not helping anyone by just increasing the number of overall terrorists, domestic or international. Besides, criminal activity is not the only concern brought up by these large amounts of immigrants. If we understand why illegal immigration is so problematic, not just safety-wise but also economically, then we can understand the need for a wall. Not only do illegal immigrants take away jobs from Americans (7.7 million illegal immigrants had jobs through U.S. employers in 2008…how much better would it be for our economy if those jobs were taken by legal U.S. citizens?), but they also already cost American taxpayers huge amounts of money. It is estimated that taxpayers spend an average of 12 billion dollars on primary and secondary education for the children of illegal immigrants.

Beck: Immigrants aren’t just taking jobs – that’s a claim that betrays ignorance of the larger economic picture. Even the Wall Street Journal, a right-leaning publication, ran an article earlier this year titled “Immigration Does More Good Than Harm to Economy, Study Finds” that discusses how in the long run, increased immigration leads to a better fiscal outlook and even benefits native-born Americans. While there isn’t yet enough data on legal versus undocumented immigrants and their impacts, one can imagine that they’re driven to work harder than someone who was born with the opportunity to do what they want, thereby benefiting our economy as a whole and, therefore, our quality of life. While I may agree with you – the ideal way to allow people into our country would be legal pathways, America just doesn’t issue enough green cards to even begin to compare to the number of people who should be allowed in to escape the humanitarian crises in their native countries. We can’t preach against illegal immigration if we don’t create an efficient legal path.

Kahn: The wall itself isn’t designed to stop Mexican emigrants completely; its purpose is to stop illegal ones. Whether illegal immigrants are “driven to work harder” or not is irrelevant; the point is that they are ILLEGAL, and by condoning their behavior, we are disadvantaging people who apply to come here legally. We are practically encouraging people to just waltz in whenever they want. Whether America should increase the number of green cards issued is a separate issue; we still need to do everything we can to stop illegal immigrants because we need to have a say in and a record of who can come into our country. Although there is a debate regarding the most effective way to stop illegal immigration, Trump clearly believes a wall can do the job. Why not try?

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The student newspaper of the Ramaz Upper School