America currently faces a debate over what this country is, the values it represents and the principles it stands for.
It is true that President Donald Trump’s intentions to strengthen national security and improve the quality of life for Americans are founded on good faith. It is also true that depriving people, victims who fled from countries plagued by violence, of their legal and human rights is not the solution.
Trump fundamentally misunderstands the nature of illegal immigration and the issues at our borders. He rescinded the DACA program, jeopardizing the futures of thousands. He separated undocumented families as a deterrent under the administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy. He attempted to illegally block asylum requests of immigrants from South and Latin America. And, during what became the nation’s longest government shutdown, he held the livelihoods of 800,000 federal employees hostage as he tried to secure funding for an unnecessary border wall.
Funding a wall is not the biggest problem facing our country because undocumented immigrants are not harming the country as much as Trump believes.
In a televised address to the nation, Trump suggested that 90 percent of illegal drugs in the U.S. are smuggled across the southern border and that undocumented immigrants pose a national security threat.
In reality, Trump’s views are as misguided as they are immoral. Undocumented immigrants are not criminals or terrorists; they are people fleeing dangerous circumstances to seek a better life in America, like many of our own ancestors. The crime rates for immigrants are reported lower than those of natural-born citizens.
Furthermore, Trump’s border wall likely would not solve the problems that he himself has identified. Most drugs smuggled across our southern border come through the nation’s many ports of entry, a problem that is not fixed with a wall. Most undocumented immigrants enter legally and overstay their visas. Illegal crossings at the southern border have been declining since the turn of the century. A border wall is neither necessary nor viable in stopping illegal immigration; it is a waste of taxpayer funds that could be better spent elsewhere.
Trump’s approach towards this problem is selfish. The shutdown affected more than 800,000 government employees without accomplishing what Trump desired. Polls show that the majority of Americans blamed Trump for the shutdown, yet the blame for this issue isn’t solely on the president.
Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), among others, refused to consider any offer not approved by Trump, while congressional Democrats refused to support any spending bill that included significant funding for the border wall. Through all this arguing, finger-pointing and blame-shifting, who has really suffered? The American people. The 35 day shutdown cost the economy almost $11 billion. Keeping the government closed—keeping hundreds of thousands of families on edge—was not the answer for Trump, congressional Republicans or congressional Democrats, and it will not be the solution if Trump does not again gain approval for the wall by February 15.
We cannot blame undocumented immigrants for our problems. Our lack of jobs is not their fault. Our opioid epidemic is not their fault. Our problems are not their doing.
We agree that this situation needs to be addressed. We must improve screening at our ports of entry—where most illegal goods enter the country—to prevent drugs from being smuggled into our country. We must take responsibility as one of the largest and most powerful nations in the world to provide aid to those who can’t help themselves.
What gives us the right to deprive others of the liberty and justice that we, as human beings and citizens of the United States, are all guaranteed? Nothing.
We are lucky to live in a country without rampant poverty, and a country where we do not have to fear excessive gang violence. We are privileged to live in America, and we must open our arms to those who seek to achieve the American dream or escape hard times.