Donald Trump recently gave the Washington Post some details about his plan to build a wall along the Mexican border and force Mexico to pay for it. His goal would be to seal the border and stop illegal immigration.
As with many of his half-baked ideas, Trump’s plan is full of holes and would not solve the problem. The wall would not affect the estimated 40% of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. who don’t come from our southern border but on airplanes and overstay their permits or visas.
Trump does not talk about these individuals because it does not fit his narrative of simple scenarios and even simpler solutions. In his simplistic world, you use basic and easy to understand problems and solutions which get you the support from ill-informed and angry American voters.
More than 45 million visitors enter the U.S. on a yearly basis with temporary tourist or other visas. Ninety-nine per cent of them leave the country before their visas expire. However, about 500,000 overstay their visa and somehow blend into American society.
The vast majority of those who overstay their visas come from neighboring countries but also from distant ones, particularly Western Europe. The five top countries in this regard are Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Germany and Italy. By the end of 2015 more than 90,000 Canadians were in the U.S. without proper documents.
Coming to the U.S. for many Europeans and Canadians can be easy. Mexican nationals, on the other hand, need to demonstrate to U.S. consular offices that they are well-off and have strong economic ties to their country, which would imply a good likelihood that they will not overstay their visa.
Trump’s “beautiful” wall would not stop these individuals from coming into the U.S. and possibly staying. If security is the concern, better screening of these individuals should take place. Those responsible for 9/11 came into the U.S. with legal documents.
A wall would not have prevented the tragedy in San Bernardino, California, last year since both perpetrators had a legal right to be in the country.
So even if Trump were to build his wall it would not make us secure since those coming into the country from Mexico do so because they are looking for work. Trump boasts that he will build the wall and he’ll make the Mexican government pay for it. Should Mexico refuse to pay, Trump would stop remittances Mexican nationals send their family members.
Economists believe that freezing these funds would be nearly impossible. In addition, if these funds failed to reach families in Mexico, the country would suffer severe economic problems which would push more of them into coming to the U.S.
As with many other issues, Trump is totally ill-informed and appears to be unaware of repercussions. His recent suggestion that Japan and South Korea should pay for their own defense by obtaining nuclear weapons is a case in point since it missed totally the dangers posed by nuclear proliferation.
In the case of his wall, Trump completely misunderstands relations with countries, which are not the same as those he is accustomed to in the business world where he could throw money around and buy politicians to obtain favors. International relations requires cooperation and diplomacy to achieve mutually beneficial agreements.
Building a wall would do the opposite since it would damage relations with Mexico. Fortunately, it will not happen. Although Trump may win the GOP nomination, his defeat in November is almost certain.
That’s the biggest hole in his “beautiful” wall.
Author and columnist Domenico Maceri is a retired professor of Romance languages. He lives in California.