By Skye Seipp
The proposed border wall and immigration policies of President Donald Trump are about as un-American as taxation without representation.
Since the 2016 election we have heard him tout that a wall must be built along the southern U.S.-Mexico border. Trump’s demand for a wall has now kept the government shut down for more than a month, while his immigration policies are keeping thousands of families seeking asylum out of the country.
According to Pew Research, roughly 467,000 apprehensions were made at the U.S.-Mexico border in 2018. Of that total, 163,000 of the apprehensions were families.
While family apprehensions only made up a third of the total number, the months of September through December saw a sharp increase in the number of families being apprehended, December 2018 now holds the record for family member apprehensions since 2012 at 27,000.
Of the 27,000 families apprehended in December, 95 percent of them hail from the Northern Triangle of Central America (Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras). All three of these countries had some of the highest murder rates in the world in 2016. El Salvador was the highest worldwide, with a rate of 82.8 homicides per 10,000 people. Honduras was second in the world with a rate of 56.5 and Guatemala was 10th at 27.3.
While extremely high rates of homicide could be enough to drive people out of their homes, many of the countries in the Northern Triangle are also plagued with high numbers of people living under $2 a day (international poverty line is $1.90).
Out of all of the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Honduras has the second highest percent of people living below the poverty line, at 16 percent of the population. Guatemala is fourth in the region with 9 percent and in El Salvador 2 percent of people live on less than $2 a day.
2018 also saw a decrease in the number of unaccompanied child apprehensions (54,000 in total). With less unaccompanied children coming to the border and an increase in families, it could be theorized that many of the migrants are simply families fleeing terrible living conditions and seeking better opportunities for themselves and their kids.
Imagine you’re an immigrant from Europe coming to America in the late 19th-early 20th century.
After the long, grueling trip overseas you finally arrive at your destination, America. The first thing you gaze upon as you enter the New York Harbor is the towering statue of a woman, clenching a torch in her hand.
The statue symbolizes the freedom and opportunity that awaits you in the New World, and Ellis Island becomes the first time you touch American soil.
America was founded and built by migrants fleeing persecution and seeking a better life. We have no right in denying the opportunity of our forefathers to anyone else.
How can our country claim to be the land of liberty, as we separate children from their families?
Has the Statue of Liberty become a meaningless symbol of our country, as immigrants are now met with tear gas as opposed to open arms?
The wall stands in direct contrast with the ideology and morals that have shaped this country.
The American populace used to view walls as a sign of totalitarianism. Take the Berlin Wall for example, which was used to separate the communist half of Berlin from the democratic half of the city.
When the Berlin Wall finally came tumbling down in 1989, the free world rejoiced. There was now hope that freedom, democracy, peace and prosperity would come to not only all of Berlin, but all of Eastern Europe.
But now, members of the Republican Party can be heard chanting, “Build the wall,” claiming that a concrete or steel slat border wall will stop the flow of illegal drugs and terrorists from entering America. With the current trial of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, new information has come to light as to how drugs are smuggled in to the United States.
News flash, it’s not through any part of the unprotected border. All drugs entering this country are making their way through by boats, trains, tractor trailers or cars through legal ports of entry.
What good is a wall if they are not even using that part of the border for smuggling drugs?
While it is apparent that a wall would offer little to no help in the efforts to keep illegal drugs out of America, what about the threat of foreign terrorists leaking into America through our borders?
According to bipartisan think tank New America, which has the records of all 455 individuals who have been found guilty of jihadist terrorism against America since September 12, 2001, of the 455 convicted, 84 percent of them are either U.S. citizens or legal residents.
The current terrorist threat against America is not coming from the southern border. The real threat is from within our own country. Building a barrier will offer little to no aid in the war on terrorism.
A wall will do nothing but offer a false sense of security. It will not help ensure America remains a free country; it will only promote the oppression of thousands of families struggling to find a better life.
Instead of closing our doors, we should be opening a new Ellis Island along the southern border, where immigrants can easily be checked, and become citizens of America.
Over the past century America has gone through drastic changes regarding who is allowed the right to vote, work, hold public office and get married. We cannot begin to back-pedal now.
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence and should not be refused to the masses that desperately seek it.
— Skye Seipp is an undecided major and contributor