Presently the government is partially shut down over the debate on funding the continued construction of the Southern border wall. While opinions vary from left to right, here at The Centrist POV we like to call it straight down the middle. The post below is an excerpt from a section on immigration in the book The War For The Middle. Hope you enjoy.
‘Build that wall! Build that wall!’ What a firestorm immigration has become since 2015. What are people really upset about when it comes to immigration and illegal immigration? What does building a wall in the name of border security have to do with actual border security? Last time I checked, the border had four directions, north, south, east, west, an ocean on two sides and the sky which has international flights that land in our country hundreds of times a day. If we’re going to tackle this landmine we have to be honest about what is causing so much debate and look at it from a viewpoint where definitions are clear and motivations are exposed for more than the rhetorical talking points being espoused by pundits and politicians alike. Get ready for a bumpy ride. This is going to be tackled head on and will leave a few egos bruised, but, we will all come out better for it in the end.
Below is a link to a chart from the U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs. It lists the total number of immigrant (people coming to live permanently) and nonimmigrant (temporary work and tourism) visas granted from 2014 – 2018. https://travel.state.gov/content/dam/visas/Statistics/AnnualReports/FY2018AnnualReport/FY18AnnualReport-TableI.pdf
The average amount of immigrant visas granted by the USA for those five years is 541,935 per year. The total amount of combined immigrant and nonimmigrant visas issued from 2014 – 2017 is 40,887,629. That’s an average of 10,221,907 visas granted per year over four years. This figure only represents the actual visas issued by the Depart of State. It does not include figures for countries that do not require tourist visas that can travel to the US without any prior vetting like Canada or Visa Waiver Countries where individuals only need to apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) every two years if they want to come for tourism. That is the data as recorded by the United States government. Numbers don’t lie and you can interpret them to your own personal feelings on wether the amount is too high, too low or just right.
Let’s start with legal immigration. I think everyone can agree that people who follow the rules and do not ‘skip the line’ are welcome in this country. The United States is unique in that it was founded by immigrants in search of a new land and better way of life. These are the dreams of many people. If you ask a newly arrived immigrant why they wanted to come to America they will most likely tell you that America is the land of opportunity. If you work hard you can achieve your dreams no matter who you are and where you come from. I agree!
Now let’s go to illegal immigration. So many valid points of view across the spectrum it’s impossible to list them all and pass judgement as to who is right and who is wrong. I’m going to address the most polarizing arguments and see where we can find common ground. Not an easy task, but, let’s give it a shot.
First off, the border wall on the southern border with Mexico. The length of the border is approximately 1,954 miles. As of 2017 nearly 700 miles currently have some type of wall system in place. The argument between the Republicans and Democrats is phrased over the spending of more money to extend the wall or not. Republicans claim it is a necessity while Democrats say it’s a fourteenth century solution to a modern day challenge. Here is a link to an article from the Boston Globe which discusses this very topic: https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2017/01/26/when-wall-was-fence-and-democrats-embraced/QE7ieCBXjXVxO63pLMTe9O/story.html
The takeaway from the article is that politicians across the aisle from then Senators Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer, all of whom are Democrats worked with Republicans to pass the Secure Fence Act of 2006; legislation authorizing a barrier along the southern border. The law flew through the Senate with a vote of 80 to 19. (One senator, Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, was not present. John Kerry, the state’s other senator, voted against it.) In the House, the measure passed 283 to 138, with 64 Democrats supporting it. (The Massachusetts delegation was split.) From there it went to then-President George W. Bush, who signed it 12 days before the 2006 mid-term elections.
So why is funding the construction of a new and extended wall a problem now that Donald Trump is president? Politics. It has nothing to do with spending 5, 10 or 25 billion dollars. Trump made it a campaign promise. By denying him money to build the wall the Democrats can use it as ammunition during the next presidential election when they run attack ads and have debates. Money talks and perceptions win elections.