Trump’s wall in return for saving the Dreamers? — take the deal

SHARE Trump’s wall in return for saving the Dreamers? — take the deal
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A truck drives near the Mexico-US border fence, on the Mexican side, separating the towns of Anapra, Mexico and Sunland Park, New Mexico. (AP Photo/Christian Torres)

In 1914, the legendary American poet Robert Frost published “Mending Wall,” suggesting that we areadmitting defeat as the humanrace whenever we erect barriers to separate us from our neighbors.

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” is the first line in the poem, in which the narrator tries to persuade his neighbor from rebuilding a wall of stone between their properties.

OPINION

The neighbor stubbornly replies that “Good fences make good neighbors,” an ironic quotation from which Frost intended the reader to infer that fences preclude human contact, understanding, growth, and the very concept of neighborliness.

Nearly 100 years later, President Donald Trump echoes the same backward, fatalistic thinking with his plan to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, which will harm important cooperation between the two countries, while doing little to reduce the flow of drugs or illegal immigrants through tunnels orthe 52 ports of vehicular entry, according to experts.

As a way to fulfill his campaign promise,Trump has proposed saving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in return for funding ofhis border wall. DACA protects from deportation undocumented young adults who were brought to our country as small children.

Unsurprisingly, the author ofThe Art of the Dealfreighted his offer with onerous and unprecedented immigration restrictions. But if prior to the March 5 deadline Democratic legislators can negotiate the deal straight up — DACA for the wall — they should grab and run with it.

Here are the numbers: Trump wants a $25 billion appropriation from Congress to finance construction. In return, he’ll protect all members and applicants for DACA, which would total 1.8 million people.

Do the math. It would mean essentially a $13,888 ransom for the life and freedom of each of the young dreamers in question who were brought here illegally by their parents, but who since then have established roots, gone to school, gotten jobs, and are poised to contribute to society, if not already doing so.

Under the agreement, they would be protected from deportation, and they would be eligible for citizenship in 10 to 12 years.

Contrast the $13,888 to save each immigrant, with what the government would otherwise spend to to arrest, detain, and deport each one, which is estimated to be $11,000, according to the Arizona Republic.

Net cost for saving each DACA youth, therefore, is less than $3,000, a mere pittance compared to the returns the country would reap from the contributions Dreamers would make as American citizens paying taxes and boosting the GDP.

Granted, it also will mean giving Trump his monstrosity, which is considered an unnecessary and wasteful boondoggle by the overwhelming majority of Americans. Still, it’s a sensible compromise to give up something dumb in exchange for 1.8 million priceless lives.

It would feel like one of those international prisoner exchanges, in which one country releases foreign terrorists from jail to purchase the freedom of several citizens who had been held hostage.

Yes, it would smart a bit, but we would be saving the Dreamers and doing what is right, humane and beneficial for America’s future.

And there would be one other long-range consequence: assuring President Trump of his right and proper legacy.

Twenty, 50 0r 100 years from today, our great grand children, while studying geography class in middle school, or while traveling to the southwestern region of our country, will see and contemplate Trump’s wall.

And they’ll reflect on Robert Frost’s proverbial poem, and what the narrator said of the wall builder: “He moves in darkness as it seems to me.”

While Donald Trump fantasizes that his wall will be perceived through the ages as an architectural marvel of defense, security, and his own greatness, it will forever be framed, instead, as a monument to his ignorance and bigotry.

David McGrath is emeritus professor of English at the College of DuPage.

Send letters to: letters@suntimes.com.

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