As the government shutdown impacts millions of American employees – and freezes proceedings for thousands of immigrants seeking to legally enter the United States – the Administration continues to push for funding to build a wall at our southern border.
But, while the Administration touts the wall as the only effective solution to deterring illegal immigration, the facts suggest otherwise.
Here are five things to consider as Congress continues to debate appropriations:
1. The wall won’t prevent asylum seekers from continuing to seek safety in the U.S.
The factors that are driving immigrants – including those in recent caravans — to seek entry to the United States are deep-seated and complex, and this wall does nothing to address them. Asylum seekers will keep coming, regardless of the obstacles, because they are literally fleeing for their lives.
2. The wall does nothing to address the smuggling of people and contraband by car.
Each year over 40 million vehicles enter the country by way of California and Texas. Just a fraction of these tens of millions of vehicles are ever inspected for concealed migrants. A wall would do nothing to prevent the increasingly dangerous practice of human smuggling by vehicle. In fact, it will likely become more common.
3. The wall won’t prevent people from entering by boat or plane.
For the wealthier individuals seeking entry to the U.S., chartering a boat or plane to enter the country illegally is an option that will remain unaffected by the wall. Instead, the wall will perpetuate a cycle by which the most vulnerable – impoverished asylum seekers traveling by foot – will remain exposed to the harsh elements of the desert for longer periods of time.
4. Securing funding for the wall fails to address current legal proceedings for overstays.
According to recent reports, visa overstays account for about two-thirds of the total number of people joining the undocumented population in any given year. This means that many of the undocumented immigrants in America are actually entering the country legally – and the wall would have no bearing on this population.
5. The wall does nothing to fix the backlog in our asylum system.
As dictated by domestic law and international treaty, individuals have the legal right to seek asylum in the United States. Coupled with the executive and regulatory attacks the Administration has leveled toward asylum seekers rights, current backlog for asylum claims is at the highest rate in history. The construction of a wall will do nothing to address this dysfunction; instead it is likely to exacerbate the unprecedented backlog.