The Mexican Border Wall and Immigration
History and Background
Immigration has been a topic of discussion in the United States for years. Policies have been formulated to handle the entrance of unregistered citizens especially those that enter through the country’s southern border. Illegal immigration has become a public issue of debate after recent policy suggestions of President Donald Trump. Although the country has been searching the most suitable strategies in the past decades, the president suggested the creation of a wall across the Mexican border as a permanent solution to the problem. The handling of immigration in the country has been under heavy scrutiny due to the large population that it affects and its moral implications. Some of the tactics used to handle the issue include the zero-tolerance policy, which arrested all illegal immigrants including minors thus causing a major public backlash. The Mexican border wall has been of keen interest as multiple stakeholders have been involved in its case with diverse opinions about it. Supporters of the method have cited its ability to block illegal entrants from having access to the country. Fears of drugs and human traffickers have been used as reasons why the wall is a necessary method for protecting the country. On the other hand, some entities perceive it as too costly while some view it as discriminatory practice on the Hispanic population. The paper will analyze the arguments offered by stakeholders involved in the topic of immigration and building of the Mexico border wall, including their concerns and values behind their perspectives.
The National Government
In regards to the national government, the stakeholders involved are the President and other politicians including Congress members and Representatives and are the most active stakeholders in the border argument. The president has the strongest relationship to the border issue as he is the one that presented the idea of strengthening the Mexican border by a building a steel wall. His ideas have been supported and opposed equally by other members of the government, due to their values held. The opinions held by Congress members and representatives are heavily influenced by the parties that they support. Although belonging to the Republic and Democratic Party has been seen as significant factors, some members of those parties have held a differing opinion based on how close their state borders are to the Mexican border (BBC, 2019). However, a majority of the members of the government agree that better border policies are needed to handle immigration.
The President’s decision to build the wall is because of the rate of illegal entry into the United States. Immigrants that enter the country are not scrutinized which allows people with ill intentions to find refuge. The President believes that without a wall, dangerous gang members will continue finding their way across the border (Sullivan, 2018). Drug traffickers also use the same routes to bring illegal drugs into the United States.
Politicians whose states border Mexico and are assumed to be the most affected with immigrants hold a different opinion. Regardless of the parties they represent, they feel that a wall is not efficient and a better alternative would be preferable (BBC). The reasons used against its implementation are the high cost of the wall on both the government and the taxpayers and the existence of better alternatives such as telecommunication devices for border patrol.
American citizens are active stakeholders in matters related to immigration and border security. Perceptions held by registered Americans are significant since they are the ones who determine politicians that represent their views on border security and also create the atmosphere towards illegal immigrants in the country. Most of the politicians, such as President Trump, base their attitude towards the topic of debate in conjunction with the voice of their supporters. However, research shows that the values and opinions of Americans towards immigration are not necessarily based on its security: it is affected by the party that they support Kull, 2019). According to the Pew Research Center, 69% of Republican supporters believe that the wall would be a practical approach towards reducing illegal immigration into the United States (Gramlich, 2019). A similar percentage of Democrats hold the opposite opinion as they do not believe that it would create much change in controlling immigration.
According to research done by the Program for Public Consultation at the University of Maryland, most of the respondents, both Democrats, and Republicans, were not fully in favor of building a wall (Program for Public Consultation, 2019). The reason is that immigrants have other alternative methods of entering the country. Instead, they suggested for better methods to be used to stop illegal movement across the border. A fair majority of American citizens believed that immigrants were essential to certain industries. Therefore, an idea that was tolerated by both Democrats and Republicans was the increase in the number of green cards for people jobs that required the intervention of external workers (Program for Public Consultation, pg. 1). The arguments offered by the participants of the research show that a significant number of Americans are mostly in support of a system that would ensure illegal workers in the country. However, political standings control how they view and approach national issues. Those that are strongly defined by the parties that they support base their decision from that perspective. However, based on the research done by the Program for Public Consultation, people held a similar opinion in regards to young immigrants. Most of them proposed that the children should receive a path to citizenship (Program for Public Consultation, pg. 20). The sentiments seem to be influenced by the fact that children often do not have control over the situation, and deserve a better life in the United States.
In the debate about immigration, the most affected group consists of Hispanic immigrants as active stakeholders. The Mexican border wall and other immigration policies affect the most even beyond the political level. Perception towards the debate for them is mostly influenced by the discriminative hostility they have received. Some of them explain that their use of illegal entry into the country is because of the harsh conditions they live in (Al Jazeera, 2019). Those that state that believes that their critics have not yet witnessed their living situations. The ones that are critical about them would change their view if they experienced their daily reality. Others understand that the American population perceives them as criminals; hence their use of illegal means to gain access to the country. However, such perceptions do not deter from trying to find a better life for their families (Al Jazeera).
Among the immigrants, smugglers play a massive role in the entry process. The building of the wall would make their business harder and more complicated as they will have to find other alternatives. However, they are not deterred since the wall would not provide a fool-proof restriction from crossing the border (Al Jazeera). To them, illegal access into the United States is a business since entrants have to pay to receive assistance. Building the wall would increase its costs since the level of danger would be heightened.
The difference in opinion held by American citizens and Hispanic immigrants are based on different factors. Those that seek to enter the country illegally are not particularly directly affected by the fact the building of the wall. The major concern that they have is a safe entrance for them and their families. Even without the wall, they are influenced by the desire for a better lifestyle. For those that are Americans citizens, they do not perceive the situation from the situations migrants face but rather how their entry affects their daily life.
Private Land Owners
Private land owners are the individuals whose lands will be used for the building of the wall since they live close to the border. Since President Trump planned to use eminent action, their property could be taken away and used as federal land. As active stakeholders, they have the power to hold legal action before their land is acquired by the government. A lot of property owners have shown dissatisfaction with the building of the wall. The sentiments are influenced by the fact that they will lose their possession which they depend on for their sustenance. One of the arguments against the border wall is the process used to acquire the land (Adams-Heard, 2019). Through the application of eminent action, the government would forcefully obtain the farms regardless of whether the owners are interested or not. The process feels like sabotage of personal rights which has generated dissatisfaction. Furthermore, the wall would interfere with the river that transports water between Mexico and the United States, as it would create a barricade. The owners share a similar sentiment to other stakeholders that prefer that the government used better surveillance technology and border patrol as an alternative.
Border patrol agents are the ones that overlook security and entrance of illegal immigrants at the border. Although they play an important role, they are silent stakeholders since they do not actively participate in the debate on immigration. Instead, they are expected to follow any regulations made about handling border security. In the argument about building the wall, their perspective is determined by how resourceful the solution would be and its efficiency in helping them carry their duties. According to the United States border patrol chief, the wall would improve the department’s ability to control immigration (Manchester, 2018). Previous experience has shown them that creation of barriers assists the blocking of unwanted entry. However, the border is only part of a system, since more resources are also needed to make it effective such better technology and more officers on duty. Compared to American citizens that also supported the building of the barricade, border patrol agents do not think it is enough alone. The perception of border officers seems to be controlled more by their duty to enforce security rather than political motivations.
In conclusion, various stakeholders on the issue of immigration have debated about the building of the Mexican border wall. Some of the entities such as government officials and American citizens have argued majorly because of their political affiliations. Those that support or oppose the policy follow the parties they are affiliated. Hispanic immigrants base their opinions on their living situations and a desire for a better life. Private landowners are against the wall since their properties would be lost regardless of their position on the issue. Border patrol agents, are the silent stakeholders but believe the wall would be a beneficial policy if included with other resources.
Adams-Heard. (2019). Trump’s Border Wall Faces Texas-Size Backlash From Landowners. Bloomberg, Retrieved from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-02-18/trump-s-border-wall-faces-texas-size-backlash-from-land-owners
Al Jazeera. (2019). Migrants at the US-Mexico border: Overcoming walls and prejudice. Retrieved from https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/talktojazeera/inthefield/2019/01/migrants-mexico-border-overcoming-walls-prejudice-190131212005985.html
BBC. (2019). US shutdown: Border politicians oppose Trump’s wall. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46815569
Gramlich, J. (2019). How Americans see illegal immigration, the border wall, and political compromise. Pew Research Center, Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/01/16/how-americans-see-illegal-immigration-the-border-wall-and-political-compromise/
Kull, S. (2019). Americans don’t want Trump’s border wall. This is what they want instead. Washington Post, Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2019/01/11/americans-dont-want-trumps-border-wall-heres-what-they-think-should-happen-instead/?utm_term=.d5b516069a67
Manchester, J. (2018). Border patrol chief: Wall will ‘most certainly’ help secure southern border. The Hill, Retrieved from https://thehill.com/hilltv/rising/401054-incoming-border-patrol-chief-border-wall-most-certainly-will-assist-securing