Build the Wall?

Trump’s crackdown on immigration may be more broadly considered part of an “America First” agenda that forces the question: Should we keep “others” out and focus on national interests? Or, keep an eye to global trade and presence?

Trump’s plan includes building a giant wall on the U.S./Mexico border that will fence 1000 of 1900 miles. It’s job: to keep out Mexican criminals who bring crime to the United States. Cost estimates range from 15-67 billion dollars.

That’s big-time money.

Seems like we should take a look at the issue, right?

We need to build the wall.

the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. is staggering

  • According to Pew Research, there are about 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., which is a small decline from an estimated 11.3 million for 2009.
  • The cost burden for U.S. taxpayers is not well-established but still really high. President Trump said, “Illegal immigration costs our country more than $113 billion a year.” But, that number was taken from an organization called FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group that’s trying to reduce immigration. The way that they estimated that number is a little fast and loose, according to PolitiFact. But, another group (again, reported by PolitiFact) reports the number at $85 billion, which is lower—but still a ton of money!

we’re not the only country to do this

  • There are 51 walls in the world and half were built after 2000.
  • They’re usually built by rich countries trying to keep out less-rich neighbors. (an example: Saudi Arabia and Yemen).

Here’s a fascinating article: A World of Walls (The Atlantic)

and the illegal immigrants are committing crimes

I found an article in The Hill  entitled “The Truth About Crime, Illegal Immigrants and Sanctuary Cities.” Here’s the link.

Note: The Hill describes itself this way: The Hill is a top US political website, read by the White House and more lawmakers than any other site — vital for policy, politics and election campaigns.

The numbers in this article starkly contrast with the reports from the Migration Policy Institute and the American Immigration Council (see info. below in the argument AGAINST building the wall) so I immediately drew a breath of frustration and concluded I can’t trust ANYTHING. Then, I looked a little closer.

And, that’s when it got more interesting.

First, you gotta read the article.

Now that you’ve done that, consider this:

  • Federal crimes are not the same as state crimes.
  • Federal crimes are crimes that challenge the constitution, like drug trafficking, commerce across state lines. And immigration.
  • Most crimes—many, many more crimes (an order of magnitude more)–are committed against the state and are tried in state courts.

What does that mean?

The author makes a very strong case that illegal immigrants are responsible for the vast majority of federal crimes.

Um, no kidding.

That’s kind of like saying: Immigration crime is overwhelmingly committed by illegal immigrants.

It’d be hard for ME (as an American born citizen) to commit immigration crime. I could commit burglary, murder, sexual assault, arsen, and others…and those numbers wouldn’t show up on federal crime statistics (with exceptions, of course). Oh, I guess I could help to sneak someone across a border. But, being from New Jersey, I probably won’t. We don’t really sneak in New Jersey…

Anyway, you see what I mean? Federal crime statistics distort the numbers to show high levels of felony among the illegal population.

Which makes that article–to people like you and me, who want unbiased information so we can come to our own conclusions– really aggravating. I think it’s factually correct it just doesn’t seem to tell the whole story.

Anyway, I’m going really middle-of-the-road here and omitting crime as a factor in deciding whether or not to build the wall–even though crime stats are broadly used in the discussion.

BTW, I’d love to see your informed analysis (meaning, by using state as well as federal crime numbers, and using first sources, not those that have been harvested to support an opinion) to add to this argument.

For now, let’s get back to Pew Research.
Ah, much better.
No bias.

Don’t build the wall.

11 million and change is a lot of illegal immigrants but numbers from Mexico have declined

  • In 2016, Mexicans made up half the unauthorized immigrants, which is the first time in ten years that they weren’t a clear majority of that population.
  • In 2016, there were 5.6 million Mexican unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. and in 2008, there were 6.4 million.

while illegal immigrants from other places have increased

  • Since 2009, unauthorized immigrants from nations other than Mexico has grown from 5 million to 5.4 million in 2015.

so where are the immigrant populations?

  • I mean, illegal immigrants are living in most areas of the country BUT three of the six states where illegal immigration is growing are not on the Mexican border.
  • And, between 2009 and 2014 over 1 million illegal Mexican immigrants willingly returned to Mexico where working conditions have improved and they can be with family.

crime stats for illegal immigrants are lower than often reported

  • According to the Migration Policy Institute study, about 300,000, or 3 percent of the 11 million undocumented immigrants, have committed felonies. For reference: about 6 percent of the overall population have committed felonies.
  • The American Immigration Council study also reports low crime numbers. They tell us that 1.6 percent of immigrant males age 18-39 are in jail, compared to 3.3 percent of native-born Americans.

fear makes us want to build a wall

People construct their view of the world though the media they consume, which is why they may believe violent crime is on the rise when it isn’t (other than a slight blip in the data it’s much safer now than a few decades ago) and why they fear terrorism above gun ownership (from 2005 to 2015, over 300,000 Americans were killed by guns; 94 were killed by terrorists).

Read more here: The Bias That Explains Why Americans Fear Terrorism More Than Guns (NY Mag)

While Trump talks about reducing crime by keeping out Mexicans, Hillary Clinton took a different position:

She says, “You can build a wall across our border with Canada as well. Create giant sea walls along the Atlantic and the Pacific. … We can send the whole U.S. Navy to the Gulf Coast and keep anybody from getting in there. We could use every airplane the U.S. Air Force has got in the air to stop planes from landing. You still couldn’t keep out the social media.”

While keeping Mexican criminals out of our country seems to be a different issue than keeping terrorists from infiltrating our country, perhaps support for the construction of the wall was born at least partly from fears of attack from terrorists.

So.

Somewhere between 15 and 67 billion dollars would be needed to keep out people that aren’t generally considered to be terrorists, may or may not largely be felons, and whose numbers are decreasing rather than increasing.

Should we conclude: Is widespread support for the wall coming from fear?

 

Back to the News Made Simple article here.

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