It’s the end of the border as we know it

With regards to US policy towards Latin America, I generally support greater cooperation, democracy promotion, human rights, and trade integration, and the freer movement of people. Let’s just say that I am not optimistic about the next four years of US-LA relations. I do hope that I am wrong, but let’s be serious.

One of Donald Trump’s signature “policies” has been a pledge to build a wall of sorts along the US-Mexican border. If we weren’t supposed to take him literally, just seriously, that would mean that he is simply going to dedicate more resources to securing the border than his predecessors.That is somewhat scary, as President Obama was already more in line with the tough on border security crowd than he was the let’s push comprehensive and humane immigration reform.

It’s possible that Trump’s plans will smack up against reality.

  • half of all undocumented tend to come in legally and simply overstay their visas; 
  • many of those arriving on the southern border are seeking asylum and are not your traditional economic migrant;
  • net migration from Mexico is around zero;
  • although the total has more recently flat-lined, the undocumented population in the US is down ~approximately 2 million people from its high during the second Bush term;
  • there’s a growing number of undocumented migrants from Central America, sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia;
  • first generation immigrants (documented and otherwise) tend to commit crime at a lower rate than those who have come to our country at earlier periods;
  • immigrants (documented and otherwise) provide billions of dollars to our economy and to their countries of origin through remittances;
  • Millions of United States citizens and legal residents know and/or are related to people who are undocumented;
  • hundreds of thousands living in the US without documents were brought here as minors and did not know until more recently that they lacked citizenship;
  • we already have hundreds of miles of walls along the southern border; the “easier” walls have already been built; the remaining areas are generally in less needed places (along rivers, in the mountains, and deeper into the desert); on lands own by US citizens who have demonstrated little interest in selling their land to the government; and will probably do considerable damage to wildlife and the environment; and
  • if history is any guide, increased security along the border will lead to more deaths and the expansion of organized crime.
I don’t think any of this matters to Trump and some of his team. Immigration is about law and order, People who are crossing the border without documents, for whatever reasons, are breaking the law (just don’t ask which law or laws). Damn the social, political, and economic consequences to the people who are crossing, the countries they are coming from, and the people of the United States generally. 
So, no, things are likely to get worse for all of us in a few short weeks.
In the meantime, I am leaving tomorrow morning for the US-Mexican border in Nogales, Arizona/Sonora. For the third time, I’ll be traveling to the Kino Border Initiative with a University of Scranton faculty/staff trip to better understand the realities of the border.