Hitting A Wall On The Wall

With the beginning of 2019, many have made resolutions while others have chosen a word for the year. While I have no inside information, I am fairly certain that President Trump’s word for the year is “wall,” and his resolution is to get one built on our country’s southern border with Mexico. But, as anyone not living under a rock is well aware, the president’s wall goal has hit the proverbial wall.

It’s not just any wall which our country’s 45th president desires to build. He wants a border wall which would run approximately 700 miles to limit the movement of non-citizens across the U.S. border. The structure is not to fence anyone in, but to keep illegal immigrants out. “Without a wall you cannot have border security,” President Trump asserts.

But without money, you cannot build a wall. So the president is seeking a approximately $5.6 billion (that’s billion with a “B”) towards the construction budget. The Democrats are only willing to give him a mere couple billion dollars though. As a result, a stalemate exists resulting in a partial shutdown of our government since December 22nd.

For want of a nail, a kingdom may have been lost. In our case, for want of a wall, government services have been lost. Currently about 800,000 government workers are either furloughed or working without pay. Nine out of fifteen federal departments are closed. Although I’m all for reducing the fat in our bloated government, I do feel sorry for those federal workers taking a hit in their wallets.  Hey, you can’t spell “wallet” without a “wall,” y’all!

And speaking of being hit in the wallet, yes, the IRS is affected by this impasse. 12% of IRS workers are toiling without pay. No refunds are being issued, and most of the IRS customer “service” support staff is furloughed. Considering how long you have to wait on hold to ever speak to an IRS “service” support person on the phone, I wonder if anyone would even notice the ongoing furlough. On the bright side, everyone can breathe a sigh of relief that those scam IRS calls threatening you with jail will be put on hold because no one will fall for them given the circumstances.

But safety first, folks. Around 420,000 employees of the FBI, DEA, BATFE, Coast Guard, and various correctional and law enforcement officers are on the job without pay. Makes me a tad nervous, I’ll admit. Are we going to get what we are paying for from these employees? Yikes!

As the wall impasse drags on, various suggestions have been floated as to how to resolve the situation. For example, erecting steel barriers rather than constructing a masonry wall might be less expensive. But are steel barriers really a “wall?” Not according to Merriam Webster’s dictionary which clearly identifies a wall as a “masonry structure.” Perhaps a wall is in the eyes of the beholder.

Another solution President Trump has mentioned is declaring a national emergency and having the military erect the wall. This idea is superficially appealing. Wouldn’t any military family rather have their loved one recalled from deployment to Afghanistan in order to help build a wall? I’m no military expert, but I’m fairly certain bricks are less dangerous than bombs and the Taliban. Moreover, having a military member learn a skill such as masonry would certainly aid in finding a job when transitioning to civilian life one military service has ended.

All this back and forth talk about how to build a wall and how to pay for it overlooks a basic question–Are border walls effective? Let’s consider the history of border walls. The Great Wall of China is a border wall which was erected to protect the Empire of China from powers to the north. Well, that wall is still standing and China still exists. At least that item made in China has worked and lasted. On the other hand, there’s the Berlin Wall. My younger readers may say, “What Berlin Wall?” My point exactly. That wall, constructed by the Soviet Union to divide Berlin into NATO and Warsaw Pact zones, is no longer in existence.

But that was then and this is now. Will a wall on our southern border actually solve the illegal immigrant problem? My educated guess is that the answer is a resounding “no.” Whether or not we need to make American great again, in the eyes of those making a run for our border, America is great. Sure, our country has its problems, but it is a heck of a lot safer and offers many more opportunities for those living in countries located to the south of us.

While I in no way condone taking illegal actions to get into the U.S., I can understand why people are doing so. If the choice is Door A where you or your children are slaughtered by violence in your home country or Door B, illegally enter the U.S. and perhaps be caught and detained, I’m positive I’d choose Door A too. The wall may make entry more difficult, but people are still going to try.

The wall may be akin to a “Keep Off The Grass” sign. We all know that we aren’t supposed to step on the green stuff, but there are compelling reasons for doing so. If our toddler slips our grip and runs onto the forbidden grassy area, are we going to obey the sign? I hope your answer is, “Of course not!” If a citizen of a Central American country is trying to remove his/her child from life-threatening violence, will the wall’s command “Do Not Enter” trump (no pun intended) the will to save one’s family? Probably not.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a brilliant solution to the current wall dilemma. There is no simple answer, and there are pros and cons to having/not having a wall. All I can say is a variation of a line from “Field of Dreams.” If you build it, they will still come.

Just WONDER-ing: Have you been following the news about President Trump’s attempt to build the wall? Do you think building a wall will solve the immigration problem? Is breaking the law ever justified?





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