Knocking down Trump’s border wall

SHARE Knocking down Trump’s border wall

A Mexican soldier patrols along the U.S.-Mexico border wall on the outskirts of Nogales, Mexico. File photo by Guillermo Arias, AP.

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In Donald Trump’s shortsighted view, solving the country’s immigration issues is as easy as deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants and building a great big wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is the ultimate showman on this subject. We can only hope a majority of the voting public will reject his bogus ideas.

The New York Times interviewed experts in engineering, security and immigration policy about Trump’s plans. They described to the newspaper, in an article published Friday, logistical nightmares that likely would derail Trump’s schemes.


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In a meeting with the Sun-Times Editorial Board, Mexico’s secretary of economy, Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, explained why Trump’s ideas were dangerous to the U.S. and Mexico. He declined to remark directly on Trump but spoke generally on policies Trump has proposed.

He used tariffs that Trump wants to impose on Mexican exports to the U.S. to point out the candidate’s flawed thinking. “When one candidate says he is going to impose 35 percent tariffs on imports on auto parts from Mexico, I think, ‘This guy is really going to hurt the American labor force,’ ” Guajardo Villarreal said.

If the parts become more expensive through tariffs, American cars will become more expensive, which likely will reduce global demand for them. “Obviously, you are going to hurt Mexican jobs,” Guajardo Villarreal said. “You are also going to hurt American jobs.”

Trump paints Mexico as a country totally dependent on the U.S. when there is actually a working relationship between the nations on many fronts. Guajardo Villarreal said Mexico consumes half the corn grown in Illinois and is a top buyer of U.S. pork. Trump doesn’t talk about this, and he doesn’t doesn’t talk about investments Mexican companies make in the U.S. These companies, whether it’s Bimbo Bakeries or raw materials producer Mexichem, operate in the U.S. and hire American workers.

As for Trump’s insistence that he will force Mexico to pay for a border wall by threatening to block wire transfers from residents in the U.S. to family members in Mexico, Guajardo Villarreal doubted the legality of such a maneuver.

Experts who talked to the Times cast doubt on the practicality and feasibility of building a wall.

A builder said a 40-foot concrete wall, built 10 feet below the ground to reduce the possibility of tunneling, would cost at least $26 billion. Trump has given estimates of $4 billion to $12 billion. Lawsuits likely would pour in over the use of eminent domain to seize private property.

Building the wall in and around the Rio Grande River, which separates Mexico from the U.S., also would pose challenges. The Times pointed out that most of South Texas relies on water from the Rio Grande; construction could not jeopardize the canals that deliver it.

There is a treaty between the countries that does not allow for the diversion of waterway flows or construction, the newspaper reported. It wouldn’t be a good idea to violate the agreement; some years back Mexico agreed to share some of its water supply from the Colorado River with the U.S., according to the newspaper. Lake Mead, all the way in northwest Arizona and Nevada, was the beneficiary.

The point here is that the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico goes beyond trade agreements. Alienating our neighbor to the south would do more harm than good to the U.S.

On deportations, Trump is even more unrealistic. “I can’t even begin to picture how we would deport 11 million people in a few years where we don’t have a police state, where the police can’t break down your door at will and take you away without a warrant,” Michael Chertoff, secretary of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush, told the Times.

Trump wants undocumented immigrants rounded up and deported, similar to Operation Wetback of the 1950s. Where would he put them? Detention centers wouldn’t be built quickly enough. Would he place them in detention camps, similar to our treatment of Japanese-Americans during World War II?

This wouldn’t make America great. Trump wants to take us back in time, not move us forward.

His way of addressing immigration is to pander to Americans’ fears. In doing so, he comes off snarky and retaliatory against Mexico and other nations, when he should be promoting U.S. interests in a diplomatic and presidential manner.

If he is honest about his immigration plans, he will admit they don’t hold water.

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