A wall will not stop illegal immigrants, but here’s what will (why the wall is a bad idea)

In a recent Facebook discussion about Trump’s proposed wall, I saw a post, one of a string, that was so wrong it infuriated me:

Facebook post: “Plus more US jobs will be created so we can stop paying for the lazy a$$ that take advantage of government assistance.”

That statement, as are many of the opinions shared by its author and others who support the wall, is also dangerous.

Undocumented workers do not receive welfare.

It is a myth that illegal immigrants come to this country to receive government assistance. It is true many come to this country for money and to make a better life of themselves, but they are not receiving this money from the government. Rather, they work for private employers, many of whom are too cheap to pay documented workers and the tax that comes along with them. These companies—restaurants, construction companies, subcontractors, farms, and more—often pay illegal immigrants in cash, under the table.

Because they are undocumented, when these workers are hurt on the job, they do not benefit from worker’s compensation. When they are fired or laid off, they cannot file for unemployment because the employer did not pay them a wage or deduct unemployment tax. Contrary to the myth that these workers are leeching off government assistance, they actually become victims because they cannot obtain this assistance. The true leeching is by the employers who, trying to save a buck, fail to file and pay quarterly taxes for these employees. These employers also often fail to abide by overtime laws as well, further taking advantage of the workers by failing to pay overtime rates.

The goals of punishing criminals, creating jobs, and reducing the number of undocumented immigrants can be attained without a wall.

Many wall supporters have ranted, “Illegal immigrants are criminals!” They are overlooking the most important fact: The true criminals are the people who employ them. The federal Immigration and Nationality Act allows the imposition of fines and even prison time for the hiring of unauthorized aliens. Yet employers keep hiring undocumented workers because they can; no one fines them.

Meanwhile, deporting a worker is only a temporary setback. So long as he knows a job is waiting for him in the States, that worker will find a way to return — wall or no wall. Immigrants come to the States to work because companies employ them. But if no job is waiting—if the employer is forced to change its hiring practices—there will be little incentive to stay here.

It is estimated that the wall may cost between $15 billion and $25 billion. Proponents of the wall rationalize this anticipated expenditure because of the jobs needed build and maintain the wall. However, there is another way to create jobs — and solve the immigration problem—without building a wall: Focus on the employers who hire undocumented workers. These employers are the true “criminals,” who are taking advantage of workers, whose only real crime is to want to feed their families.

If Trump wants to effectively tackle immigration and create jobs at the same time, he would focus on hiring more worksite enforcement investigators at the U.S. Customs & Immigration Enforcement (ICE). By strengthening ICE’s worksite enforcement branch, the administration can create jobs, catch criminals, and solve the immigration problem.

If these workers keep coming back here to work, they clearly like it here. Why not give them opportunities to become legal? In many cases, male workers receive wages for labor — construction, painting, agriculture, etc. — and send big chunks of that money to their families in Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, and other countries. Why not allow them to bring their families here, legally, and keep the money within the United States economy? Allow those families to buy groceries and clothes here, and pay for housing here, in the States. To do this, however, it must be easier for them to obtain visas. Laws must change, and reform is necessary.

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best … they’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists….”

Let’s not kid ourselves. The real reason for the push for the wall is part of a xenophobic zeal Trump first stirred when he made this statement — calling Mexican’s “drug dealers” and “rapists”— on the date he announced his candidacy. The wall is an illusory token of that zeal. It is an easily visualized target that has fed into fear and fired up crowds to chant: “Build that wall! Build that wall!” Meanwhile, no evidence exists to show immigrants commit more crimes than native-born Americans. Reducing the number of immigrants will not reduce drugs, crime, or raping. Such notions unfairly demonize hardworking individuals who are only trying to make a better life for themselves and their families.

The wall would wreck havoc on the environment.

Finally, the wall will have additional negative impact because it will damage our environment. A BBC article explains :

The US-Mexico border region is a delicate ecosystem located between two biomes, with regular animal and bird migrations moving between the north and south of the American continent.
It is home to a diverse population of mammals, birds and plants, including the iconic American roadrunner and the saguaro cactus, the cinematic symbol of the American southwest. The dry, desert ecosystem also supports cougars, desert bighorn sheep, the endangered North American jaguar and the ocelot — which is down to its last 50 animals in southern Texas.

By placing a wall between areas, animals like the desert bighorn sheep will not be able to reach water sources. They will not be able to reach or mate with animals on the other side. The wall’s construction—more human activity, machinery, waste—will cause further destruction to environmental habitats. Essentially, the wall will kill animals and damage the ecosystem.

Conclusion: Abandon the plan for the wall.

In summary, the wall is an ineffective plan, wasteful of our money, and it will not work. It will not stop illegal immigrants but rather just encourage divisiveness (remember how the wall worked in Germany?). The way to stop illegal immigration is to focus on employers—not workers—and make it easier for immigrants to obtain visas. The wall, however, if built, will just be flown over and tunneled under, by humans. On the other hand, it will have an unintended, disastrous impact on the area’s wildlife.