Natalie Gallardo, Chapman University
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During his presidential announcement speech, Donald Trump claimed that Mexicans are “…bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” Furthermore, Trump has argued that American citizens have lost their lives due to the criminal activities of immigrants who cross the border illegally. Through numerous campaign speeches as well as his official position on immigration, Trump describes illegal immigrants as lower-skilled, less educated people who are a threat to American job security (Immigration 2016).
As part of his platform, Trump has presented the idea of an enhanced wall between the Southwestern United States and Mexico border. The wall is intended to prevent migration from Mexico, and has been met with considerable support from individuals who express similar concerns about Mexican immigrants. Listed on Trump’s website is a 10-point plan to limit immigration into the U.S. Main points of his vision is the prioritization of jobs and security for Americans, as well as immigration controls that would prevent uncontrolled foreign worker admissions. The first point in his plan is to work on an “Impenetrable” wall on the border that Mexico would pay for and would be implemented on the first day of his presidency. His tenth point calls for immigration reform that would keep immigration levels “within historic norms” (Immigration 2016).
The Problem That Does Not Exist
Results from a Pew Research Center Report from November of 2015 have concluded that more Mexicans are leaving the United States than are entering. The study utilized census data from both Mexico and the United States from 2009 to 2014 and showed that more than a million Mexicans and their families left the United States while only 870, 000 entered. In 2014, the number of illegal crossings caught dropped to the lowest since 1971. While previous research has shown that border enforcement enacted in 1986 has not been successful (Cooper and O’Neil 2005), factors within the United States have been the cause for the decrease of immigration into the United States. Economic issues, specifically the 2008 recession, caused many Mexicans to lose jobs in lower paying markets such as construction and leave the country. More restrictive border control under President Obama as well has tremendously helped minimize illegal immigration from Mexico (Preston 2015).
These Mexican immigrants and immigrants as a whole are not more inclined to commit crimes than a natural born citizen (Becerra, et al. 115), contrary to Trump’s remarks that portray a majority of Mexican immigrants as criminals.
Negative Consequences of the Solution
A Bernstein Research report conducted earlier this year concluded that the wall could range anywhere from 15 to 25 billion dollars; higher than Trump’s estimate of 10 billion dollars. The southwestern border across the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas spans about 1,989 miles, but natural borders such as the Rio Grande provide less of a physical border to construct, and a 1,000 mile border was used to calculate costs of the Trump Wall. Costs of maintaining and protecting the wall are unknown. Donald Trump has also claimed that Mexico is going to pay for the wall, in which the Mexican president has replied that they will not. In result, payment of such a wall is unknown and is essentially left up in the air to figure out after Trump is inaugurated. (The Data Team 2016)
Trump’s wall would be disastrous economically and socially. Financial costs of immigration policies and unnecessary walls put a strain on financial resources while socially creating a hostile environment for Mexicans. The real problem about the Trump wall is the social repercussions and negative rhetoric regarding Mexicans that makes them seem like harmful people. Trumps proposal of said wall is destructive because it perpetuates the idea that there is an issue regarding migration into the United States while recent patterns of migration prove otherwise. Building this wall would cause far more issues than it was intended to solve.
Becerra, David, David K. Androff, Cecilia Ayon, and Jason T. Castillo. “Fear vs. Facts:Examining the Economic Impact of Undocumented Immigrants in the U.S.” Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare XXXIX.4 (2012): 113.
Cooper, Betsy, and Kevin O’Neil. “Lessons From The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.” Migration Policy Institute 3 (2005):8.
“Immigration.” Donaldjtrump.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2016. <https://www.donaldjtrump.com/policies/immigration/>
Preston, Julia. “More Mexican Immigrants Leaving U.S. Than Entering, Report Finds.” The New York Times. The New York Times Newspaper, 19 Nov. 2015. Web. <http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/20/us/more-mexican-immigrants-leaving-us-than-entering-report-finds.html?_r=1>.
The Data Team. “The Economics of Donald Trump’s Wall.” The Economist. The Economist Newspaper, 26 July 2016. Web. 15 Oct. 2016. <http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2016/07/daily-chart-16>.