5 Huge (But Underreported) Problems With Trump's Wall
America is a country of immigrants, a rich tapestry of multiculturalism that transcends a single point of origin. It's a beautiful thing, even if the whole shebang was mostly built on the wholesale exploitation of said immigrants. But when we allow it to, this melting pot can dissolve all differences and allow us to focus on what is truly important: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
So when Oompa Loompa President-elect Donald Trump unveils a plan that threatens to derail that spirit with ludicrous supervillain proposals, it's our responsibility as Americans to delve into the details of his absurd anti-immigration strategy and expose the utter bullshitery of it all.
Trump's Immigration Plan Is Modeled On A Monstrous Program From The '50s (That Didn't Work)
When you're looking into how to boot roughly 11 million people out of your country, prepare to have "human rights violations" pop up on Google's autocomplete every time you even glance at the keyboard. The long history of mass deportations has always led to negligent inhumanity and cruelty, and the plan Trump has announced is based on one of those clusterfucks.
"Operation Wetback" (buckle up) was a brutal sweep in the mid 1950s by the Border Patrol which targeted undocumented workers and dumped them back into unfamiliar parts of Mexico, either by airlift or banana boats. Over a million folks were deported in 1954, which led the Border Patrol to declare the undocumented immigrant problem "solved" -- a assertion that was wildly naive at best. First, a huge portion of the deportations were repeat apprehensions, meaning the same people were being deported multiple times. Also, a lot of the people who got the heave-ho weren't even questioned on their citizenship status. The Border Patrol would see people crossing the border back into Mexico and call it "voluntary departure," as if no American citizen had ever gone to Mexico for any reason.
Getting caught while undocumented wasn't the worst part of your journey, however. That'd be the actual journey. It takes a special kind of monster to turn a banana boat trip to Mexico into a crime against humanity, but the Border Patrol managed to do so with aplomb. The two-day long journey back to Mexico often saw the deportees crammed into small vessels without any protection from the sea or Sun, or wedged into the cargo holds of ships. In 1956, during one such voyage, a riot erupted in which seven deportees drowned. When Congress investigated, they said the travel conditions resembled those of an "ancient penal ship" -- which is a boat to transport prisoners and not, as it may sound, a boat shaped like a giant penis. Five hundred workers were stuffed in the bowels of a ship with only enough lifeboats to carry 48. Worse yet, there are plenty of reasons to believe that had the ship sunk, the Border Patrol still would have claimed they had successfully deported 452 immigrants -- the fact that they deported them to the bottom of the ocean would have been a technicality that went unmentioned.
But the worst part about Trump's love for Operation Wetback is that it means he doesn't even understand why it had an impact. The immigration plan was, in fact, two-pronged. The "send them back" hard-ass military approach didn't work that well (and didn't do the country any favors, reputation-wise). The true success came in its less-publicized dealings, wherein the U.S. and Mexican governments worked together to curb illegal immigration by making legal immigration easier. Most of the undocumented immigrants "stamped out" by the disgustingly named operation weren't deported; they simply "disappeared" by becoming full-fledged American citizens.
None of that even matters, however, since the kind of immigration Trump wants to solve is completely different from what it was 60 years ago. Back then, most undocumented immigrants were seasonal workers who would routinely make trips back and forth from Mexico. Today, most undocumented immigrants live and work in America full-time, and roughly 80 percent of them pay more taxes than the president-elect has in decades. But they weren't born in America, so fuck them.
The Big Cities Probably Won't Help With Immigration Control
Making promises is a one-man job. Making those promises happen, however, usually takes a bit more than a pathological need for attention and a social media account. Donald Trump can make all the immigration policies he wants, but he's still going to need people to enforce them -- and the early answers that Trump is receiving, especially in larger cities, sound like "Eat a dick, or perhaps all of the dicks."
The police chief of Los Angeles explicitly said that his department would not assist in the deportations Trump is threatening. Oakland, NYC, San Francisco, Seattle, and numerous other cities have made similar pledges to not help enforce what Trump and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency are proposing. Likewise, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel maintained that his city would "remain a sanctuary city" and protect undocumented immigrants from being prosecuted. And before you start flushing deep dish pizzas down the toilet in protest, it's important to note that nearly all major U.S. cities are sanctuary cities. If you're undocumented and aren't breaking any other laws, they will basically look the other way. Maybe it's all those robberies, murders, and chatty crime scene investigators, but metropolitan police forces don't have the time to worry about the citizenship status of the residents who are quietly trying to get by.
This could be quite the roadblock for Trump, as there are roughly 400 sanctuary cities in the country. Of course, Trump has already found a foolproof solution to this problem by promising to block federal funding to those places. He does have reason to be a bit sore, since many of the same sanctuary cities were huge allies in helping deport people during the presidencies of both George W. Bush and Obama. Why they flipped almost overnight isn't entirely clear, but it might have something to do with the fact that comparatively few in those large cities voted for Trump.
The real reason, however, might not be Trump's fault at all (something that would probably make him even more upset). Under the Bush administration, a super shitty program called Secure Communities was approved. Because of it, local police had to share arrest records and fingerprints with the FBI, which then would send ICE to deport any undocumented immigrants, usually without a lawyer, and sometimes without even a judge. Nearly half of all undocumented immigrants deported from 2011 to 2013 were deported in this manner, and many of them had no criminal records at all (by ICE's own admission). By 2011, many sanctuary cities started to withdraw from Secure Communities because it was destroying communities. ICE's voracious application of every scant bit of police information led to families being broken up and the workforces of many towns getting decimated. For example, the largest kosher meatpacking plant in the country in Postville, Iowa was forced to go bankrupt when the Department of Homeland Security swept through and absconded with a fifth of the town's residents in a few scant hours. They sent 1,000 agents. The population of Postville is 2,227.
Realizing the toxicity of the program, the Obama administration discontinued Secure Communities in 2014, but the smell still lingers. Say one of the roughly two million undocumented people in New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago is the victim of a crime. Because of Secure Communities, they are still going to be less likely to alert the cops, for fear of being deported themselves. Between the public's mistrust and the many civil rights lawsuits, the cities opened themselves up to by detaining people on the sole word of ICE, they've had just about enough of federal interference -- so much so that a presidential task force was created last year suggesting that ICE should probably decrease its reliance on local law enforcement and focus on other channels for information. For many cities these days, an ICE agent is a less welcome sight than the people they're trying to deport.
Trump could theoretically overstep all of this and expand federal powers, though this would only further alienate the state and local authorities he would need to help make this plan happen. So unless Trump plans on chewing up the 10th Amendment and farting it out into the wind, he's got a fight on his tiny, spray-tanned hands.
Trump's Wall Would Be Devastating To The Environment
Oh yeah. The wall. That's still a thing, we guess. There's not a lot we can write that people don't know already. It's going to be huge, some parts are probably not going to be a wall at all, and it's not so much a strong display of leadership as it is the kind of thing a passive-aggressive neighbor would build. Instead, let's take a break from how this boondoggle is going to affect U.S.-Mexico relations, and talk about how it'd also be terrible for the environment -- something Trump seems to hate almost as much as brown people.
The wall, as Donald Trump envisions it, will affect 111 endangered species, 108 migratory bird species, and mess with four wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. By making a solid, finished wall (as opposed to the piecemeal 600 miles that only cover a third of the gap), we are going to completely alter and cut off connections that animal species rely on. As more barriers go up, we lose more and more hope of conserving and protecting animals and ecosystems, making resources scarcer and cockblocking animals from reaching their mating partners. Biologists have identified 49 species that are at risk from the bits of border that have already been up, including birds (especially owls, who can't fly very high). But most poetically of all, Trump's wall would endanger the American bald eagle by destroying one of its "critical habitats."
It's also the greatest excuse to post this video.
Water would be another victim. The Rio Grande forms part of the border between the U.S. and Mexico. As it twists and turns, it makes it impossible for the wall to follow the border with Mexico. This has resulted in some land and water ending up on the Mexican side of the border, including wildlife sanctuaries and private American homes. But bricking out a bunch of U.S. citizens is the least of Trump's aquatic problems. The major water-bringers to that region of both Mexico and the U.S. are the Colorado River and the Rio Grande. How Trump plans to allow them to flow unmolested between the two countries is a question he has, to date, boldly neglected to answer. Water treaties between the U.S. and Mexico are another gray area, as the agreement prevents any construction that could alter or obstruct the flow of the rivers. And if we know anything about Trump's history with construction, this will be a well-thought-out and respectful process.
Mass Deportation Will Cost 2 Percent Of The GDP (And Cripple Countless Industries)
If you have at least the smallest vestige of a human heart, you might have been simultaneously struck with awe and apathy when reading the story earlier in this article about an Iowa town whose economy was destroyed after 20 percent of their residents were deported. Well, good news! With Trump's immigration plans, we can pretty much extrapolate that disaster nationwide. A new study claims that Trump's plans to deport all undocumented immigrants would shrink the U.S. economy by 2 percent. That might sound like a meager amount, until you realize the gross domestic product of the country is about $19 trillion. So if Trump's deportation plans are realized, we're looking at losses around $400 billion. That's more than what Maryland makes. We'd effectively lose Maryland.
Of the estimated 11 million immigrants living illegally in the country, almost seven million of them are employed. If all those workers were whisked away, a lot of those jobs would be left unfilled. Not "given back to real Americans," but left at the bottom of Craigslist. You see, many of the jobs performed by undocumented workers are considered so unappealing that legal citizens don't want them (see "exploiting immigrants," above). So the industries that have the most undocumented people working for them, like agriculture, construction, and the hospitality fields (which you might notice are all super important things), would suffer the most. A recent study tried to gauge the damage that such a mass deportation would cause. Even allowing for the possibility that the vacated jobs would be filled by American citizens, there still wouldn't be nearly enough people to sustain those industries. The more likely scenario is that the majority of positions would stay unfilled, and the jobs would completely disappear. Researchers estimate that the private sector would hemorrhage hundreds of billions of dollars -- a disastrous scenario which economists refer to as a "fiscal tainthammer."
But forget the immediate, day-to-day effects of seven million people leaving the workforce for a moment. Turns out that bouncing millions of people out of a massive country also costs? money. You have to add in the costs of employing immigration lawyers, hugely expanding the agencies themselves, and hiring immigration agents to kick these people out of their homes. Only then can you start thinking about the shitty long-term effects of vacant positions. Again, these are the obvious costs. They have no data on how everything would trickle down, because to date, nobody has attempted to amputate a small country's worth of workers all at once.
Trump's Plan Would Require A Police State (With A Weakened Police Force)
So Trump wants to roll out Operation Racial Slur, Version 2.0. He says he'll follow the example of the military-style tactics Eisenhower used back in 1954 (back when America was great) to completely rid the country of Mexicans in two years. Furthermore, Trump has suggested that beginning strong-arm deportations would make many undocumented immigrants leave the United States of their own accord. Currently, the U.S. manages about 400,000 deportations a year, and that's with Obama shipping off more than any other president in history. So 11 million should be a piece of cake, right?
Michael Chertoff, the Winston Wolf of immigration enforcement who was George W. Bush's secretary of Homeland Security, says "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." And it's true -- police would have no choice but to start acting very un-policey to deport 11 million people in two years. We're talking requesting proof of citizenship during routine traffic stops, or merely after passing someone speaking Spanish on the street. All of a sudden, "Papers, please" could become a common utterance from authorities.
And what happens to all the suspected undocumented immigrants once they've been rounded up? What facilities do we have at the ready to humanely house them in between the time of their arrest and ultimate deportation? America has already proven that it can't even handle taking care of folks in a major city after a hurricane. And backlogs in immigration courts are already as long as two years before even a first hearing. So we'd either need more courts, lawyers, and judges immediately, or we'd need to skip the whole "due process" part altogether. Meanwhile, undocumented immigrants would be kept in facilities awaiting either trial or judgment for an unspecified amount of time (facilities of this nature have typically been referred to as "internment camps").
Much like the factory in Iowa we previously discussed, Trump's plan would involve countless raids of farms, restaurants, and construction sites, and then levying criminal charges against the employers for having undocumented immigrants on staff (meaning those jobs will likely disappear). Also, Trump wants to triple the number of deportation officers to 15,000, and those officers would be needed immediately, so there would be very little time for adequate training. That means other federal agencies would have to contribute resources, which would limit or undermine their own operations. Illegal border crossings are the lowest they've been since the 1970s, which gave the Obama administration the opportunity to focus its deportation efforts on hardened criminals, gang members, and drug traffickers. Spreading our law enforcement agencies thin to accommodate Trump's expanded "kick absolutely everyone out" plan could end up benefiting the most dangerous people, because each agency would have reduced ability and resources to prioritize their own investigations.
But hey, that's a small price to pay for getting rid of all the Mexicans, right?
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