Another Brick In The Wall...Or Not?
Donald Trump made his first National Address to the USA on the 8th January and demanded $5.7 billion to build his infamous wall, or "steel barrier" as he's now calling it. The name may change but the principle has not; Trump wishes for this monstrosity of a structure to be built along the US-Mexico border. However, it may not be as easy as people perceive.
The US Government shutdown staggered into its third week with no real sign of a resolution. During this time, 800,000 Federal employees have been without pay and haven't had a wage packet since just before Christmas when this crisis unravelled. The main issue that stands in the way is Donald's wall. The wall was a key election promise back in 2016 and despite its absurdity, it's a proposition that many Americans have taken him up on. Trump provides simple answers to the biggest domestic issues. It's a key component of right wing populism and it presents Trump as an everyman; a man of the people. It's why he got into power in the first place - these answers put him on the people's side of the fence (or, dare I say, wall) and it's why he went from being an outsider to becoming President Of The United States.
However, theorising the absurd and promising it is one thing; actually carrying through those promises is a different one. Currently speaking, the Democrats control the House Of Representatives and they are responsible for creating the new US Budget. Herein lies the issue. Trump has to sign off every single law that is conjured up by the House and if the Democrats' budget does contain 'The Wall' then Trump will not sign the bill off. He knows that the Democrats would never put 'The Wall' on one of the budget sheets and so his National Address urged for the Democrat support to solve the historic border issue with Mexico. Trump described the issue as a "humanitarian crisis, a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul", and his words there are vastly different to what they would usually be. It appears that he is trying to appeal to a wider audience in the hope that the Democrats will give him the budget allocation of that $5.7 billion, or £4.5 billion. This would be paid for by the American taxpayer or if Trump's claims are to be believed, by a revamp of the North American Free Trade Agreement. A revamp of this trade agreement would therefore cause Mexico to pay for it indirectly.
Some critics have claimed that Trump's presidency has been fraught with lies and deceit. With regards to the wall, Trump stated that the "At the request of the Democrats, it will be a steel barrier rather than a concrete wall." - there's been no agreement over the structure itself and also whether it will even be built. That's really what this whole issue has been about and at the time of writing, this has now been the longest US Government shutdown in history. In his address, Trump pointed out that Democrats Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton voted in favour of 700 miles of fencing across Mexico's border in 2006 and the Democrats supported the securing of the border then, so why don't they now? It's most likely because Trump is going around the border control issue in the complete wrong way. He's being abusive towards the Mexicans, generalising them as "Drug dealers, criminals, rapists" and the remarks of someone as powerful as the President Of The United States fuel modern-day racial prejudices. However, this is only a small part of the security and Trump's pledge of building the structure "very inexpensively" seems to be wearing pretty thin. Yes, the original cost was supposed to be $25 billion, which is astronomical in itself and even a $19 billion reduction or so is a lot, but this new price is still a fortune to an economy.
The border issue with Mexico can't be sorted through the means of a massive structure, whatever it may be, and, if it would satisfy Trump, should be solved through the means of stronger border control, with biometric controls and armed guards. This is the US standard for tourists for one thing and not once in my three trips in and out of the country have I seen any form of illegal entrance or exit. The security is stringent and the guards thorough in checks. A wall, or any form of structure, wouldn't really solve America's illegal immigration issue - strong border control could solve the issue in a better and more humane way. Moreover, this stronger control should be uniform throughout all points of entry across the 2000 mile border.
The irony of the matter takes us to a recently discovered video clip from fifteen years ago. In an address to students of Wagner College, New York City, Trump tells students that "If there is a concrete wall in front of you, go through it, go over it, go around it, but get to the other side of that wall.". Trump's comments from 2004 sit in stark contrast to his now infamous election pledge. Here, he's talking about perseverance and not letting any barriers get in your way and the fact you should have no limits in trying to stop you grabbing an opportunity. Yet, for most of the decent people crossing the borders into America from Mexico, they'll pay their taxes, contribute to the economy and assimilate into US society. What's the issue with that?
So, is 'The Wall' really a necessary usage of the American taxpayers' money? In my opinion, not really. In the past few years, the USA have spent twenty percent of their GDP on defence, whilst they have crippling domestic issues surrounding healthcare. Trump's wall seems like a waste of public money and there needs to be a massive rethink over the solving of the border issue in Mexico.