I have hated the concept of a border wall since I first heard about it a few years ago. In my mind, it’s an ugly symbol that says we don’t want you, you’re not welcome here, and we don’t care about your problems. This is contrary to how I’ve always viewed the United States, not to mention my own Christian values.
Then I moved to Arizona, and the environmental issues, and the voice of Arizonans further stoked my disappointment in the construction of the wall. A majority of them do not want it. https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/border-issues/2017/12/20/majority-arizonans-oppose-trump-border-wall-survey-says/963580001/
I’ve really opposed the wall for two reasons: the vast amount of financial resources being diverted from other equally if not more pressing issues, and in the end, I don’t think it will make a difference.
That’s not to say I support an open border – I don’t. And can we build a table large enough to accommodate all those wanting to dine with us? No. Our social, health care and law enforcement agencies are already strained. I’m a systems person – if the system is broken, it needs to be fixed. A wall doesn’t fix immigration reform.
This is also a global issue, and we need to be a stronger international partner. If you travel or read about current issues in Europe, they are facing the exact same dilemma – people trying to escape wretched, unsafe conditions we can’t even begin to understand.
Last week, Kathy and I traveled to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, two hours south of us. The monument (same as a national park except it’s designated by a president instead of congress) skirts the Mexican border near Lukeville, Arizona which is the site of border wall construction. This area is also the farthest north the organ pipe cactus grows, and we’d been told to get to the area before all the cactus were destroyed via bulldozers for the wall.
Kathy’s cousin and his wife were camping at the monument, so for three days, we hit the trails to see the marvelous landscape, and get up close and personal to the wall. One afternoon, we listened to a border patrol agent give us the lowdown on the status of the illegal immigration challenge, and one morning, we witnessed a four-generation family of six from Guatemala arrested and taken into custody. My heart broke.
This trip was an opportunity for reflection, to say the least.
As I stared at the 30-foot tall monstrosity, I thought of all the good that the money could do. Yes, it’s being moved from the military, which strips support for veterans and active-duty, and reduces services that ensure a stronger military. But the money could also provide critical early childhood education programs, repairs to our country’s failing infrastructure, greater access to mental health services, and advances to safeguard our voting processes. Nope, apparently none of these priorities which build our country are considered more important than keeping people out.
Most of my environmental concerns have been assuaged, except the misuse of water. Arizona is on the cusp of a water crisis and this won’t help. Even in the small town where we stayed closest to the border crossing, the people don’t want the wall – it won’t solve anything. And this isn’t going to make a dent in the amount of drugs coming into this country, nor are jobs being taken away from Americans.
I don’t know what the answers are, except that compassion, compromise and collaboration can achieve more than walls. Especially since the walls have already been known to fall.