By Kabayan Perry Diaz
Last December 12, President Donald Trump met with Senate Minority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer, House Minority Leader Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, and Vice President Mike Pence at the Oval Office. Their agenda was the “Wall.”
Trump is so obsessed with the “Wall,” which he made a central part of his presidential campaign in 2016. He told crowds in campaign rallies that he’d build a wall along the 1,900-mile US-Mexico border and Mexico will pay for the construction.
The problem was Mexico didn’t want to pay for it. Besides, Trump never asked Mexico to pay for it before he made his promise. He just presumed that Mexico would pay for it if he kept on badgering them. Trump was naïve that he’s not aware of the term “Mexican Standoff.” Well, he’s got himself into a “Mexican Standoff” situation: He couldn’t make Mexico pay for the Wall. He tried and tried and tried. Nada. No way, Joe.
There’s a story in Mexico that illustrates the Mexican Standoff very well. Two men driving their cars the opposite direction entered a narrow street and met halfway through. Neither could move forward, and each insisted that the other back his car up. Both men stood firm for more than 12 hours, until a policeman came and told both of them to back up. In a Mexican Standoff there are no winners and there are no losers.
Likewise, Trump and Mexico are at a standoff. So what Trump did was demand Pelosi and Schumer to pass a border security bill that includes the cost of constructing his wall. But Schumer and Pelosi would only agree to $1.3 billion for border security, but Trump wanted $5 billion for his wall.
Their discussion became heated. Trump kept on repeating, “Wall is part of border security. Without a wall, there is no border security.” Then, the moment came and he said, “If there is no wall, I’ll shut down the government.” Schumer and Pelosi stood their ground, looked at him. Oops! It seemed like Schumer and Pelosi were ready for a Mexican Standoff. Exasperated, Trump said, “I am proud to shut down the government for border security. I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it.” He then stormed out of the Oval Room. Schumer later told the reporters, “Trump’s temper tantrum will not get him the border wall.” Schumer and Pelosi won. Trump lost.
Hours later, Pelosi met with the Democratic caucus behind closed doors. She reportedly questioned Trump’s “manhood.” “It’s like a manhood thing for him — as if manhood could ever be associated with him — this wall thing,” Pelosi told her colleagues. Then she added, “It goes to show you: You get into a tinkle contest with a skunk, you get tinkle all over you.”
The whole drama about Trump’s wall reminds me of Roman Emperor Hadrian’s 73-mile long wall in the Roman province of Britannia in 122 AD. Hadrian’s Wall was a defensive fortification from sea to sea along the northern boundary of the Roman Empire for nearly 300 years. In Hadrian’s words, he wanted to “separate Romans from the barbarians” in what is now Scotland.
In the third century AD there was fighting along Hadrian’s Wall. Emperor Septimius Severus went to Britain to fight the “barbarians.” Although his soldiers won the battles, he got sick and died in 211 AD. After his death, there are no other accounts of fighting along Hadrian’s Wall, which makes one wonder: Did Hadrian need the wall to prevent the barbarians from crossing into Roman territory?
It took around 15,000 men and about six years to build the wall. Was it worth it considering that it was the Romans who tried to conquer the barbarians? In 411 AD, the Romans abandoned Britannia and the barbarians never bothered to cross Hadrian’s Wall after they left.
The question is: Is Trump’s wall along the U.S.-Mexico border needed? Trump’s characterization of the need for a wall is to stop illegal immigrants, trafficking of illegal drugs, terrorists, and MS-13 gang members from crossing the border. He called it an invasion that he even deployed 5,200 army troops to protect the border. He accused the Democrats in Congress of being against the idea of a wall because they want to have an open border. That is farthest from the truth. The Democrats – including many Republicans – don’t want the wall because of the cost involved — $25 billon over the next five years. Besides, it’s not necessary; there are other ways of safeguarding the border. So, why spend $25 billion? Walls are passé. And that’s the reason why the Republican-controlled Congress didn’t support funding for the wall. But Trump doesn’t accept the reasoning.
Many in Congress believe that there are better ways to protect the border. They said that Trump’s Wall would not prevent people from crossing because of the existence of more than 100 tunnels that the drug cartels dug underneath the border. Many believe that guarding the border has to be more sophisticated than the current system, which is mainly using border patrols. The U.S. would just have to be more creative in this age of electronics. And that shouldn’t cost $25 billion to accomplish.
But here’s the rub: Assuming that Trump’s wall along the border with Mexico is completed, what would prevent illegal immigrants, drug traffickers, terrorists, and gangsters from crossing the US-Canada border, from the sea, and from the air? There are international airports in at least 50 cities where tourists enter. Once inside the U.S. they’re hard to locate. And those who overstay their visas are called “undocumented aliens.” Trump calls then “illegal immigrants.”
The US-Mexico border is 1,933 miles long while the US-Canada border is 5,525 miles, which includes the Canada-Alaska border. The coastline of the U.S. has a total of 12,383 miles. Has Trump have any idea how to secure its 19,891-mile border with Mexico, Canada, and the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans?
The drug cartels are getting more sophisticated. Before they were using airplanes to bring their illicit products into the U.S. Now they’re using submarines to smuggle illegal drugs into the U.S. They are also using “mules” to smuggle illegal drugs by way of airlines or ground transportation. A “mule” is a person who the drug cartels use to smuggle contraband across the border. There are many methods of smuggling with the use of “mules,” which include hiding the contraband in vehicles or carried items such as luggage or clothes, attaching them to the mule’s body or using the body as a container, and hidden in a vehicle’s secret compartment.
In other words, Trump’s Wall would only stop a small percentage of illegal immigrants, drug traffickers, terrorists, and gangsters from entering the U.S. The Wall would only encourage them to look for other means of entering the U.S.
It is apparent that Trump is fixated on the “Wall,” which he believes would solve America’s illegal immigration, drug trafficking, terrorists and gang problems. Is it because he’s so obsessed to fulfill his campaign promise to build the Wall? But that’s not what he promised. What he promised was: “I will build a wall on our southern border and I’ll have Mexico pay for it.” Well, Mexico already said flatly that they’re not going to pay for it; therefore, his promise was already broken. And that should have been the end of it. Yet he turned around and demanded that the U.S. Congress fund the Wall… or else he’d shut the government down! Whoa!
That’s callously irresponsible and detestable! I really feel sorry for the Federal employees, military personnel, veterans, and Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid recipients. They don’t get paid this Christmas only because Trump won’t get his “Hadrian’s Wall.” (PerryDiaz@gmail.com)