For the last few months, the United States’ most brilliant and ambitious engineers and contractors have been busy trying to come up with the best way to divide us—and they’ve found about 450 ways to do it. That’s how many companies have presented bids to build President Donald Trump’s wall along the border between Mexico and the United States.
One of the design requirements was that the wall be at least 18 feet tall. Another was that it look nice, although there’s no way to make hatred look pretty. There are plans for walls with solar panels, with watchtowers and with inclines that are impossible to scale. And at least one design features a see-through fence—you can look through to the other side, but not cross over.
Trump’s wall will be built on a foundation of hostility and racism. He wrongly believes that Mexican immigrants are criminals, drug dealers and rapists (as he stated when he launched his presidential bid in 2015). Therefore, he wants a wall to separate America from the potential dangers that he says these immigrants pose.
But Trump is wrong. I’ve pointed this out many times, but let me say it once more: Undocumented immigrants commit fewer crimes than American-born residents, and they contribute billions of dollars to the U.S. economy. Simply put, Trump wants to build a wall to protect people from a danger that does not exist.
Immigrants are not invading the U.S. The undocumented population has stood at around 11 million for the past decade and everything indicates that number will remain stable. Besides, how long will the U.S. remain an attractive country to immigrants? They don’t want to come here and be humiliated, arrested and deported, so fewer are even trying.
In December 2016, while Barack Obama was still president, about 58,000 undocumented immigrants were arrested while trying to enter the United States. In January, that number dropped to 43,000. In February, the first full month of Trump’s presidency, arrests dropped to 24,000; and in March, they dropped to fewer than 17,000. “This is no accident,” John Kelly, the secretary of homeland security, said during a recent Senate hearing.
What this means is that the tactics of hate and fear are working. Meanwhile, Trump has given immigration officers the authority to arrest, inspect, and deport people with no criminal record, which has serious consequences for families already in the United States.
Every day during our newscast on Univision we report on fathers and mothers who were detained in their homes, in cabs, in court, or while picking up their kids from school. These children, who are often American citizens, are traumatized by the abusive operations that separate them from their parents. Terror within the country and a wall around it — that’s Trump’s philosophy.
The irony is that many of the Americans who voted for Trump, based in part on his promise to build this wall, don’t want to pay for it. According to a recent Associated Press poll, 58% of Americans are against spending the billions of dollars that it will cost.
That’s a hefty price to pay for something that won’t work. You can climb and fly over a wall or dig tunnels underneath it. And while every country has the right to a safe border, an efficient immigration system — one that takes into account the economic needs of a nation and matches them with the workers who are willing to come—is a much better option.
Countries are often the embodiment of the things they build and invent. The United States taught the world that it was possible to fly, to send a man to the moon and to create machines that put a world of information in our palms. But in the Trump era, some of America’s most creative designers are expending their energy on a useless border wall.
Something has gone seriously wrong when our leaders are willing to squander so much talent and money on something that only serves to divide. Then again, some people can bring out the worst in what their country has to offer.
Jorge Ramos, an Emmy Award-winning journalist, is a news anchor on Univision and the host of “Show Me Something” on Fusion TV. Originally from Mexico and now based in Florida, Ramos is the author of several best-selling books. His latest is “Take a Stand: Lessons From Rebels.”