Following through on his campaign promise, President Trump is setting about to build a wall on our southern border with Mexico. This has been met with considerable opposition from some people, mostly on the left. But why?
Because this is such an emotional debate, let’s start with some basic facts. The United States has a right to determine who we allow into our country and who we do not. No one who is not an American citizen has a right to enter America. That should not have to be said, but far too many arguments against a border wall imply that the U.S. is somehow wrong for wanting to have a say in who can come in. That’s not immoral; it is necessary for a country to maintain it’s sovereignty.
Without control over who is allowed into our country we are not American citizens, we are just people who happen to live inside the territory administered by the United States government. There are some who like to style themselves as “citizens of the world” and they are free to do so. But I am an American citizen, and that means something special to me. We live in the greatest country the world has ever known because we are different. That is not a racial or ethnic issue, but a recognition that from our very founding the American people had a unique vision of the world. That cannot be maintained if we abandon the very concept of American citizenship by surrendering control over who is allowed into the body politic.
Second, being for a border wall does not make someone anti-immigrants. I am for both a wall and for welcoming new Americans into the fold – provided they follow the rules. It is in no way a contradiction for the descendants of immigrants to require new immigrants to come here legally. We are a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws. It does not make us hateful to say that if someone wants to join our country, their first act should not be to violate our laws.
So now we get to the less emotional arguments against the wall. Critics have recently taken to saying the wall is too expensive. While I am heartened to hear anyone supporting fiscal responsibility, controlling our borders is one of the things the Federal Government is supposed to do. We should offset the costs of a border wall so that it does not increase the deficit, but there are plenty of reductions we can find among the plethora of activities Washington has wrongly assumed for itself. And after we have offset the wall, I invite the fiscal hawks on the left to keep working with us to reduce more of the nearly four trillion dollar budget, assuming this is a genuine concern and not simply a disguise for truer but less politically acceptable motives.
But will the wall be effective? It is important to realize that many different security measures fall under the umbrella of a “wall.” In addition to the psychical barrier, most proposals also include cameras, ground sensors, and drones. When combined with the additional border patrol agents, of course these will help stem the tide of illegal immigrants and drug traffickers. There are measures we can take to reduce both illegal immigration and narcotics in the interior, but it is usually easiest and most effective to stop problems at their source rather than searching throughout the country.
There are a lot of passionate people on both sides of the debate, but if we slow down and look at the facts independently, two things become clear: (1) that securing the border is a basic function of the Federal Government; and (2) a border wall is an important means to achieve that goal. We can argue about what specific aspects should and should not be included, but of course we should build a wall.