Stupid Donald Trump Question: How is Trump’s proposed wall different from what we have built already?

Friends on Facebook, when they aren’t comparing Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler, may complain that Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border is un-American and/or immoral. Yet Wikipedia indicates that we have already built 580 miles of such a wall. It seems obvious that Trump is proposing a longer wall, but how is that qualitatively or morally different than what we’ve already done? With a quick Google search I found “History of Border Walls in the U.S. and Around the World,” which says that the Mexico-U.S. wall dates back at least to 1990:

In 1990, the United States constructed a 66-mile (106-kilometer) fence along the California coast from San Diego to the Pacific Ocean to deter illegal immigration. Arrests of illegal immigrants in the San Diego region declined sharply as a result of the fence, but increased nearly 600 percent in Arizona, where the number of accidental deaths also climbed as Mexicans attempted to traverse the harsh desert environment.

In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. The act increased fines for illegal aliens, provided additional funding for border patrol and surveillance, and also approved the installation of an additional 14-mile (22-kilometer) fence near San Diego.

With respect to his advocacy of a border wall/fence, what is different about Donald Trump than our 1990s political leaders?


10 thoughts on “Stupid Donald Trump Question: How is Trump’s proposed wall different from what we have built already?

  1. What’s different is that Trump must be destroyed and therefore nothing he says can possibly be correct or reasonable or precedented, it must all be wrong and crazy and scary because he’s opposing Hillary and is therefore the worst person in the world.

    Why didn’t you already figure this out? Almost all your Massachusetts friends could explain it to you.

  2. Bill Clinton was our first black president, and people of color can’t be racist. Trump is a white cis heterosexual male and is racist.

  3. Without actually watching Clinton’s speech, or going and finding examples of what Trump has said, my gut reaction is that Clinton knew how to spin it without just coming out and saying “we’re going to build a wall in order to keep Mexicans out of this country”. If he sold it primarily as a way to control drug smuggling, it avoids looking racist.

    Immigration is one of the screwiest issues in our national politics. If you say you want to take steps to have illegals deported, or beef up security along the border, you are instantly branded a racist (or at least mean-spirited). Does anybody ever ask the ones doing the branding if they think they should just be allowed to walk into Canada (or Mexico, or China) without obtaining permission? So nobody (except left-libertarians!) argues that we should allow completely free human movement across national borders, but US citizens are expected to be tolerant of illegal migration across its southern border because the optics would be bad otherwise, I guess.

  4. Fun fact: the word “racist” was coined in 1927 by Leon Trotsky (of Russian revolution notoriety) in order to browbeat all dissenters of the communist ideology.

  5. I think the issue is the existing walls have not effectively been able to control illegal crossings. In populated areas tunnels defeat the walls. Smuggling still takes place though the official crossings. I see Trump’s wall as an overly simplistic, and expensive, solution.

  6. Larry: my Facebook friends are unhappy about Trump’s proposed wall for moral reasons, not practical ones. They seem to start from the assumptions that (1) there is no existing wall, (2) Trump’s wall will actually keep would-be immigrants out, and (3) keeping immigrants out via a wall is a new, immoral, and un-American idea.

  7. aren’t the fences around Israel effective in keeping people out of Israel? Why can’t the same be applied to the US? Besides, a fence could reduce the supply of imported illegal drugs, protecting American pot farmers from cheaper drugs from foreign plantations where there is slave labor and the worker’s rights are not respected.

  8. Jay c – the argument isn’t really about whether or not a wall will work. It’s about whether or not we want to keep people out.

  9. I’m surprised to hear that your progressive Facebook friends appear to be advocating for open borders, which I’ve only seen from radical libertarians. Of course countries need to be able to control their borders.

    I think belief in Trump’s racism rests more on things like his speech announcing his presidential bid: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best … They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” (The crime rate for immigrants is lower than for native-born Americans.) And he doesn’t make much of a distinction between immigrants, illegal immigrants, and Hispanics in general. As with his arguing that the Indiana-born judge (Curiel) in the Trump University case ought to be removed: “He’s a Mexican. We’re building a wall between here and Mexico.”

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