The federal government shutdown is absurd. Consider this analogy: if President Trump was denied a permit to expand one of his hotel resorts, would he then decide to close the existing hotel? Of course not, but that is what he is doing with the federal government. President Trump is just one of more than 500 elected federal officials (Congress has 535 voting members) and he cannot dictate to those other 535 people what should be done about a wall along the border with Mexico.
The entire concept of a wall is also a bad idea because it will not work. Consider just these few ways to get around a wall.
First, a few ladders and a folding emergency ladder will surmount any wall. Just put up the ladders on one side of the wall and then hang the folding emergency ladder on the other side. In far less time than it would take border patrol agents to respond, quite a few people could go over the wall and be anywhere in the countryside. If there is barbed wire on top of the wall, just include a wire cutter and get the same result: a very leaky wall.
A second way is to blow a hole in the wall. Explosives are easy to buy or build, and can be made powerful enough to demolish any wall.
A third way is to just go around it. A wall cannot be built into the Pacific Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico, so anyone with even a canoe or leaky raft can simply take to the water. Refugees from Castro’s Cuba did this and so are refugees from Africa who are crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe.
A fourth way is to build a tunnel under the wall. While labor intensive, tunnels are hard to detect and can last for a long time. So, a single underground tunnel could allow thousands of illegal migrants to enter the country. Tunnels can also be dug to any depth, so even if the wall extends underground for 20 or 30 feet, a tunnel is possible.
Another flaw to the wall concept is natural disasters. A tornado or earthquake could easily topple any man-made structure, and both occur along our border with Mexico. Odds are a hurricane would also do nothing to improve the lifespan of a wall.
So, what would work? First, we must realize that most migrants are either just looking for work or fleeing from chaos and danger in their home countries. They are the same as many of our ancestors who fled Europe to come to America. Most of them are not criminals but people who would become ideal citizens of our country.
Second, we would be better off combating terrorism and despotic governments in their home countries than by building a wall. Building a wall does nothing to alleviate the conditions that are making people migrate to America. Making the lives of ordinary people better in their home countries does eliminate the reason that people migrate to the U.S.
Third, be proud that America is still a beacon of hope and freedom in a troubled world. Be proud of the words on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Do not fear immigrants but welcome them as future citizens in our nation that was built upon immigration.
Joseph Bahr is a Waterbury Center resident.