All this recent talk about walls got me thinking. History books are full of examples of the need for and the laborious building of walls around cities, countries and various structures.
The Wall of Jericho was built thousands of years before Christ and kept the city’s population safe, for a while anyway. The City of Troy was protected from Greek invaders by a huge wall. That is, until the Trojan War and the infamous Trojan horse ploy. There is the Great Wall of China, all 13,000 miles of it, that kept out invaders who sought to overthrow several Chinese dynasties. The wall around the Alamo foiled early Indian attackers but later proved to be pretty ineffective. And, then there was the Berlin Wall which divided East and West Germany for 28 years and then destroyed in spectacular, televised fashion in 1991.
The point, of course, is that walls do protect those inside, but they are not necessarily forever.
Today, to keep out what President Trump calls “the criminal element,” another history-making wall project is proposed. The president has often said he needs $5.7 billion to build it but now comes news reports that to actually complete Mr. Trump’s vision for a wall Congress would have to approve a total of $18 billion for its construction. (This is all part of the administration’s new master plan for U.S. border security that carries an estimated price tag of $33 billion over a 10-year span.)
Let’s face facts. The problem of our porous borders has been around for decades with only occasional band-aid fixes along the way. We all know what happens to a problem that is ignored. It gets worse and increasingly costlier to manage. That’s where we are today with our immigration problem.
We have to start somewhere to fix what is broken and we’re working from a disadvantage following years of neglect. Politicians from both sides of the aisle agree – America has a border problem. But to what degree? Is it a “humanitarian and national security crisis” as the president insists or a simple, “humanitarian challenge” and “manufactured crisis” as the democratic leadership calls it?
The realty is somewhere in the middle of all the partisan political talking points. But one thing is for sure, our politicians are too caught up in their own egos to find a way to a.) keep the country safe and b.) manage those who would like to enter and live in our country legally.
The scenes we see on the nightly news – refugee families crammed into tent cities along the U.S. – Mexico border and reports that some separated and traumatized children may never see their parents again – are heartbreaking. Sure looks like a crisis for those people who left their homes, trekked hundreds of miles north and now live in tent cities with no amenities. Some of those migrants – maybe even many of them – would probably make stellar American citizens if given the chance. But we have yet to find a reliable way to ferret out those of the criminal persuasion. Not all should be allowed in but not all should be kept out.
The lack of definitive and long-ranging action from official Washington is either pure self-absorbed politics (Let’s make sure not to give in to the other side!) or callous disregard. Either way it sickens me.
Both democrats and republicans seem to agree that more money is needed to hire additional U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents, more sophisticated surveillance technology and more inspection equipment for our ports of entry. The democrats vehemently say they do not want and will not fund a wall. Yet a bill introduced in the democratically controlled house in early January includes $1.3 billion for “new fences” in the Rio Grande Valley area and “secondary fencing” in San Diego and other locations. So, the party of Pelosi agrees, a border barrier, albeit not so long or tall, is needed.
The sticking point is that word – wall – and the price tag the president has slapped on it.
Let’s do some math. When all is said and done the wall will cost $18 billion? That sounds like a boatload of money, doesn’t it? But divide $18 billion by the 326 million men, women and children in the U.S. and … well, that comes out to about $55 dollars apiece. When you think of it that way, would you pony up $55 dollars per person in your household to help break the political stalemate, end the prospect of more government closures and insure fewer people illegally crossing over our border with Mexico?
I’m sick of all the politics. Where do I send my $55-dollar check?
Diane Dimond is a syndicated columnist and television reporter of high-profile court cases.