Did you ever get that feeling when looking at an issue that things seem so bizarre and off that you are in the Twilight Zone? If you’re over 40, and you’re complaining about pop culture, you’ve been hit by the “grumpy old man syndrome.” I don’t do Drake & Vape. The current hyper-partisan debate on “the shutdown,” and more specifically “the wall,” makes previous debates on abortion and gun control seem absolutely civil.
Debates like “Do walls work?” make me wonder, “who’s trying to pull a fast one?” The natural reaction of the empathetic is to oppose a border wall, and I respect that instinct. For someone who is actually xenophobic, a wall and closed border would be their go-to position.
Let’s step back and be clear. We live in the world literally filled with billions of walls and fences. Almost all of them are effective, for whatever purpose. Does anyone want to eliminate our physical barriers around airports, public buildings or daycare that are protected by drones or electronic surveillance? I’d say the answer is pretty simple: walls work. No, they are not magical impenetrable force fields. You can climb over them with a ladder. You can dig under them and you put in door, and walk through them. But a wall is a real physical barrier and a real deterrent.
Other natural barriers work too, like 500 miles of water between Guam, the FSM, or more than 1,000 miles to the Philippines.
It must be remembered that both of the last two Adelup administrations have supported the deportation policy of foreign convicted criminals, they have been ordered not to return. And they can’t just walk across an open field.
Yes, anyone can just get a small boat, fill it with gas and set a course for Guam. In fact, I’ve actually seen a beached boat at Ritidian and the next day I read about the arrests of suspected illegal immigrants. But the flow is a trickle. The natural barrier of the ocean works. But when it comes to the national debate, we are being gaslighted on such common sense. Sure, it started with Trump’s simplistic campaign promise. Now it has been joined by an equally simplistic argument by the opposition. The result is that no one is being serious about border security because they are hung up about “the wall.”
There is a lot to dislike about Trump, his style, his personal ethics, and his policies. But just within the last decade, Democratic leaders like Sen. Schumer and Speaker Pelosi supported physical barriers and deportation of illegal aliens.
Yes, “illegal alien” is the correct legal term. But somewhere along the journey into the Rod Serling zone, many media stories started using the activist phrase “undocumented immigrant” — as if to suggest the issue involves just paperwork as opposed to actual legal status. There’s a difference between “driving without your license” and “driving without a license.” As Vanilla Ice infamously said about his song’s similarity to a Queen song, “It’s not the same.” (ICE, ICE, Baby?)
The second problem with that phrase is that most illegal immigrants in the U.S. are in fact not crossing border on foot, but visa overstays. They are actually documented. And that makes a difference because they are at least vetted, invited and limited by the amount visas issued.
Although my position is probably obvious, I have to be transparent (like a steel slate fence as opposed to a concrete wall) and upfront: I have always supported more robust enforcement of current immigration law, as well as immigration reform for a more accurate reflection of our modern needs and security concerns. I also have to say, I totally support robust immigration from a wide variety of diverse nations going forward. I also promise not to use the word “robust” again, unless I’m referring to a cup of (legal) Colombian coffee.
So the debate should focus on the nuances of immigration policy and enforcement. For example, how do we define nuclear family provisions? Or should we have a merit-based or lottery system? I don’t like the argument of a “border crisis” because it involves an appeal to emotion by stirring a sense of fear and urgency. This has been an ongoing issue that built decades of compounded effect. However, just like the climate change issue that has become a “climate crisis” to some activists, Trump is using the term “crisis” in an attempt to get a resolution in his favor.
The real crisis is the political crisis. Ideological extremists turn every issue and make every phrase a hyper-partisan squabble. Each automatically suspect the worst motives of the other.
In the end, the buck stops with the President. He is ultimately responsible for the political climate and the shutdown. But he is also responsible for his promise to secure the border with at least some wall funding.
Political actions have consequences on the ballot. Bush 41 promised “no new taxes.” He reneged on this promise. He lost reelection. Obama promised health care reform. He succeeded and won reelection. No matter how much the opposition in Congress object to the idea, Trump campaigned and won an uphill election with a promise to build “the wall.”
The Democrats won the House largely on opposing Trump. But the Democrats have to know that Trump cannot give up 100 percent on such a basic promise without losing his base and his chances at reelection. After decades of broken promises by leaders of both parties to fix the immigration law and secure the border, Americans will conclude that if even Trump won’t secure the border, no one will. Let’s be honest, we aren’t talking about a $25-billion, 1,000-mile, 30-foot concrete wall at this point. It’s about several billions and several hundred miles of barrier in the most vulnerable areas. It’s a tangible symbol of — and would be a real — physical barrier. Maybe, just maybe, it would show results. Maybe that’s where the opposition comes from after all.
Joseph Meyers is a professional pilot and an armchair social commentator. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org