“A wall, in my view, is an immorality. It’s the least effective way to protect the border and the most costly. I can’t think of any reason why anyone would think it’s a good idea — unless this has something to do with something else,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently explained. Many other Democrats — almost all of them, in fact — claim to have, in addition to other reasons, some moral qualm about a border wall.
Whether or not the United States needs a wall — or even a pointed, slanted steel fence, for that matter — is a legitimate point of debate. I’m pretty ambivalent about the prospects of a barrier myself, and I oppose any unilateral emergency measures that allow government to more easily take private land to make it happen. But the Democrats’ blanket opposition to any “wall” has a number of logical inconsistencies that expose a different kind of agenda.
For one thing, is a wall really the “least” effective way to protect the border? I keep hearing Democrats offering this talking point on cable news without pushback. I suspect there are numerous less effective ways to secure the southern border than putting up a giant partition – like, for instance, having areas without any physical barriers. No rational person really believes that high vertical structures wouldn’t, to some extent, inhibit the movement of people.
It is true, as President Trump has claimed, that Israel’s security fence, erected after a deadly terror campaign against civilians in the early 2000s, has been effective. There was an immediate and precipitous drop in terror attacks inside Israel. And, as The New Yorker recently reported, “a razor-wire electric fence” along the border in Szeged, Hungary was all that was needed to stop refugees from flooding into the country. The European Union was angered that the Hungarians built the wall because it worked.
So it’s reasonable to believe that many Democrats simply don’t want a new wall because walls stop illegal immigration. They just won’t say the words yet. Take, for example, Rep. Adam Smith, the new chair of the House Armed Services Committee, who, echoing many other Democrats, claims that Trump’s campaign for a border wall is rooted in “xenophobia and racism.”
Even if we conceded for argument’s sake that the person driving this debate is xenophobic and racist, a barrier is meant to keep people from illegally entering the country from Mexico and Central America. Our immigration debate is ostensibly about the best way to secure our border and keep people — on both sides — safe.
How can one inanimate border fortification be more racist than another? Does Smith believe it’s functionally more racist to preemptively dissuade illegal immigrants from illegally crossing the border with a wall than to allow them to wander around in deserts and wilderness looking for water on their own?
Another Democrat, Rep. Eric Swalwell, recently offered what I am told is a non-parody tweet, which read, “’Mr. Gorbachev, put up a wall.’ Said no President.” It is true that when socialists run a country they typically are forced to build walls to keep people inside. It’s something Swalwell might keep in mind when he votes. It’s also, and unfortunately, true that the Berlin Wall was effective. Perhaps Swalwell is claiming that the physical structure, aesthetically speaking, sends an ugly message.
Despite the preoccupation with Trump, though, the idea of a wall on the southern border is neither new nor revolutionary. A wall was once a mainstream position that most of the Democratic Party leadership supported to various extents. It was one of the few items that could garner any consensus. Many politicians who’ve voted for walls are still serving in Congress today. As far as I can tell, no one with access has asked Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer when and why a wall became immoral.
We already have around 700 miles of barriers. Swalwell’s state of California shares a 140-mile border with Mexico, about 105 miles of which is walled or fenced, including a giant fence that juts into the Pacific Ocean. Are those walls immoral and racist, also? If so, why don’t Democrats support tearing down these nefarious structures?
The notion that Democrats — who are ready to spend trillions on every newly concocted “right” — are hesitant to lay out $5. 7 billion is risible. If a wall were really ineffective, wouldn’t a trade for legalizing younger illegal residents be a feasible and legitimate compromise? It’s more likely that the wall is non-starter because 1: Democrats don’t want to sign off on a Trump agenda item — the political consequences would be too severe; and 2: Democrats’ leftward lurch has transformed any border security into “racist” position among the base of the party.
We might not need a wall, but if a wall is inherently “immoral,” why isn’t a border or sovereignty also immoral? I’ve not heard a good explanation.