September 19, 2019 | 49° F

COMMENTARY: Border wall may be immoral but it is definitely unnecessary


During his campaign, President Donald J. Trump proposed to build a wall at the Mexican-American border. On Dec. 22, 2018, he shut down the government in response to the refusal for wall funds from Congress. More than a month later, he conceded to reopen the government without wall funds, making this the longest shut down in history. During the shutdown, there was considerable opposition to the wall questioning the wall’s morality, notably from Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.,12) and Pope Francis.

In a previous column from The Daily Targum published on Jan. 25, only hours prior to the end of the shutdown, Matthew Mai spoke of this questionable morality. While I do not agree with Mai's opinion, I do respect how he stated his point of view, and I do see his concerns. Mai stated that in their opposition to the wall, Pelosi and the pope have not stated why the wall was immoral. 

One reason that may be the case is how our consciences work in humans. If something does not feel right, we often can say so even if we cannot put a finger on what. But, on the flip side, which is where Mai has legitimate concerns, I see why it would be frustrating just to hear something is immoral without reason.

Fortunately, even if the Holy Father and the speaker-designate are unable to put a finger on what does not sit right with them about the wall, I have been able to put a finger on what does not sit right with me. While I may be unable to answer what is immoral about the wall, I am able to answer what is wrong with it.

For one, the legal process unfortunately, as it currently stands, takes time. And people in bad living situations may come over illegally because they do not have the means or time to come over legally. In which case, the mere presence of a wall will not hinder illegal immigration.

For another, in 1961, during the Cold War, East German authorities built a similar wall around East Berlin to keep the West Berliners out. Besides the bad notion of walls that this sets for people, the wall was destroyed in 1989. So, if we build a wall now, it may only be a matter of time before it is ordered to be destroyed, and thus a waste of money. With our national debt, being what it is, we cannot afford such a loss.

Furthermore, illegal immigration is an issue that Republicans speak of more than Democrats. While I hope this is not the case, it might be. Immigrants in general usually come from poorer backgrounds and come over to find a better life. As a result, they will have more liberal and Democratic ideas than conservative and Republican. The issue to suppress immigration of any kind would become a political motive, like voter suppression, and targeting illegal immigration is just an excuse.

Other reasons come from my own life experience. While I was at Middlesex Community College, one of my English professors called the wall a rather primitive idea because as she pointed out, there are multiple ways of becoming an illegal immigrant. For example, someone who comes over on a work visa and overstays the visa, is here illegally. Thus, a wall will not reduce this.

Going back to the wall being primitive, I ran into an unrelated but similar situation with a friend of mine at Middlesex, Nick. At Middlesex, being a community college, people generally are there to transfer to a four-year school. Nick had another idea in mind. Rather than transferring to a four-year school, he wanted to stay two years, get one associate's at Middlesex, then stay another two years and get another associate's. 

This situation represents my prior claim about how the human conscience works. While I did not think it sounded like a good idea, I could not put a finger on why. So, I asked my mother for any advice I could give to Nick. She asked, "Have you heard of anybody else doing it?" When I said no, she pointed out that was a sign it might not be a good idea. Relating this to Trump's proposal, walls were used in medieval Europe, ancient Greece, ancient China and other countries in the past, but is now an outdated system of defense. 

To summarize, we cannot afford it, it will not stop illegal immigration and its relative obsolescence is a sign that it is not the best idea.

 Alexander Toth is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in computer science.

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Alexander Toth

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