by Alex Gonzalez
Trumps is very unlikely to get even few miles of his“beautiful Wall” built, but he will campaign on it anyway because it’s good politics for his base.
When Donald Trump took office, fencing and other barriers stood along 654 miles of the 1,900-mile border with Mexico. Trump promised his supporters a “beautiful” 2000-miles of new fence. However the administration has only replaced or upgraded a tenth of that existing network — without building of new walls. But Trump is determined to campaign on his signature 2016 “Wall” promise in time for the 2020 elections.
However, the Trump administration still will have to fight court battles with private land owners to take much of the land where the wall would be built. Other impediments include objections arising from the wall’s environmental impact; opposition by congressional Democrats, who are in no mood to appropriate the $5 billion the White House is demanding for the wall in the current fiscal year; and, most recently, a federal court order blocking the administration’s plan to divert $3.6 billion for wall construction from funds approved by Congress for projects on military bases at home and overseas.
And thought federal judges have stymied all attempts by Trump to build the wall, for some “conservative” groups, erecting a physical wall is paramount for their political movement to stay noticeable, even if it is illegal and self-funded and it’s only 1-miles long. So the “Wall” is more more about the politcal symbolism than any real policy solutions.
Hence, the wall is a manifestation for a more permanent division between the U.S. and Mexico. The wall creates an illusion of separateness; it creates the illusion of a fix for a flood Mexican and Hispanic immigrants. The wall makes a stark statement that Trump and Republicans don’t want the U.S and Mexico become to close. Thus, it’s worth bearing in mind the real meaning of the wall.
Half of the undocumented immigrants (44%) currently in the U.S. are over-stays that came legally via a U.S Airport or crossed the border legally. Similarly, for the past three years, all data available, including Trump own DHS stats, shows that most illegal immigration is due to Asian and Indians overstays, not the US-Mexico border.
The recent report by Center for Migration Studies shows that:
For the past 10 years, the primary mode of entry to the undocumented population has been to overstay temporary visas. This report provides estimates of the number of noncitizens who overstayed temporary visas and those who entered without inspection (EWIs) in 2016 by the top five countries of origin.
However, Trump and Republicans in Congress never publicly talk about these facts and only refer to illegal Immigration as a U.S.-Mexico border problem because they know that is what gets the base morbidly excited about “protecting the border” with a 2000-miles big wall, concertina wire and images of active Military personnel at the border. And these is the real image of border Trump wants to used for his re election campaign.
To Trump supporters and “Republicans” who will continues pushing for a wall, addressing the real current source of illegal immigration – overstays from Asia and India coming legally through U.S. airports – is not important; building a wall to stop Mexicans and Hispanics from coming here is more important because is a stronger political and cultural images than actually fixing “illegal” immigration.
What is really the “Wall” about
The wall has not practical purpose in matters of National Security or stopping drugs from coming in the country and it is a waste of taxpayers’ money. The wall is not a conservative policy proposal. In reality, the wall is cultural anti-Mexico fever promoted by Trump, tea party groups, and culturalists like Pat Buchanan who for decades have painted Mexico and Mexican-Americans in the U.S. as the principal culprits of the decline of white-ness and Western culture.
Trump tends to use the Israeli-Palestinian “wall” argument in front of religious groups like Evangelicals to promote the notion that Latinos are not of Western European stock with no Christian values. This is the message often used by many culturalists like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh to portray Latino immigrants and their culture as non-western, an “outside” culture that is similar to militant Muslims like Palestinians. And since they are not one of “us” – white or non-Westerner – it is easier to legitimately create laws and erect walls that target the “outside” group.
This is a tactic used since the early days of mass Immigration to demonize immigrant Jews, and other non-Protestant groups. The demonizing of Hispanic groups, lately, as not being Western and Christians have often played out well in “Conservative” Religious circles that support Israel based on their Biblical beliefs. Frequently they used the U.S.-Mexico border as example of how things are in Israel by portraying Latin immigrants as Muslim militant Palestinians and the Israel as the defenders American values. However, as it is often the case, well –intentioned, ill-informed, religious Christian voters fall into a trap and consciously, or unconsciously, promote the wrong message under the mantel of “good Christian values” to de-legitimate and de-westernize group for political purposes. And this is what the wall is. A symbol of what Trump base feels will save white American from brown Latino and Mexican Immigrants.
There is an entire movement within religious Conservative groups who want to portray Latino immigrants as though they are outsiders and not Christian; the wall is physical permanent division; and this would make it easier to separate them from ‘us,” from Western culture Christianity and link them to militant Muslim organization that promote anti-immigrant laws by scaring good-intention religious folks, but in reality Latino Immigrant that cross the U.S.–Mexico border aren’t likely to be criminals. But they do tend to be Bible-loving Christians.
But Even before Trump, tea partiers like Ted Cruz were already using the concept a “wall” as an anti-Mexico political view.
For example, during the CNN GOP debate when ted Cruz was running for President, Cruz stated that:
“The frontline with ISIS isn’t just in Iraq and Syria, it’s also in Kennedy airport and the Rio Grande. Now we’ve seen what happened in San Bernardino. When you’re letting people in, when the FBI can’t vet them, it puts American citizens at risk.”
An this is not the first time Cruz links immigrants who have crossed the border have lived in the U.S. for a long time to terrorism.
Bret Stephens from WSJ succinctly pointed out about claims Cruz made at the Heritage Foundation suggesting that the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino was linked to the Rio Grande river – Hispanic immigrants. But Cruz’s claims about national security and terrorism are not about Hispanic coming from Mexico swinging the rivers as much as it about Cruz deceiving his followers by arguing that terrorists are swimming the Rio Grande river from Mexico to possibly kill Americans. Bret Stephens writes that:
Cruz has thoughts on these and other important matters, but first he wants you to know that he intends to finish the wall along the border with Mexico. And triple the border patrol. And quadruple the number of aircraft patrolling the border.
Why? Because “when terrorists can simply swim across the Rio Grande, we are daring them to make the journey.”
So the wall has become part of “culture wars” and emblematic of anti-Hispanic propaganda within the party, and it has nothing to do with fixing immigration policies.
For trump and supporters, the chief objective is to promote the idea that Latino Immigrants are not Christians like us. Therefore, laws like 187, SB1070 a physical barrier – even if it’s un-American- is an accepted method to protect “us,” – white people.
Trump clearly regards resentment against migrants as the common, binding purpose of the Republican Party, so Republicans have realized that showing an anti-Mexico approach is more effective to energize the base than actually fixing “illegal Immigration.”
True, many conservative Latinos in the southwest, especially Mexican-Americans, have felt the “heat,” bigotry and anti-Mexican sentiment that has been promoted by Trump it’s a distorted manifestation of Republican values; so they hope that Trump would be defeated in 2020 and that things will go back to normal. But that is a false assumption. Trumpism will stay even after Trump leaves the White House.
Alex Gonzalez is a political Analyst, Founder of Latino Public Policy Foundation (LPPF), and Political Director for Latinos Ready To Vote. Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or @AlexGonzTXCA