OPINION: ‘Build the wall’ isn’t about building a wall

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Drake Robinson

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The biggest obstacle to any plan is reality. Fortunately, we have a president who rejects reality.

I always had an issue with the phrase “build the wall.” It assumed that there was very little stopping illegal immigration up until then-candidate Donald Trump made that his biggest rallying point at every campaign stop.

In fact, his announcement to officially run included the claim that the United States needs a wall because, “they’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

At least some of us are good.

Illegal immigration has been a highly contentious issue since before President Trump, even though an arrest report created by the FBI in 2017 shows that 81.9% of the people arrested in the U.S. are not of Hispanic or Latino descent.

The problem is, most illegal immigrants are already here. Statistics from the Pew Research Center show that “About two-thirds (66%) of unauthorized immigrant adults in 2017 had been in the U.S. more than 10 years.” While illegal immigration is still an ongoing situation, the fact is that most have already been established in the United States. What’s a wall going to do besides keep them here?

Border security is undoubtedly important, but why doesn’t any government administration address the more common issue of immigrants overstaying their visas? When illegal immigrants are caught at their places of work, why don’t the businesses face consequences of knowingly hiring them? And if illegal immigrants are taking American jobs, how is Wichita currently facing a worker shortage?

There are many issues with the current immigration debate, but the phrase “build the wall” has gone beyond putting up a garish fence along the southern border.

My parents used to be just like the other “aliens.” They came here illegally, but put in their time and worked hard to both learn the language of this country and eventually become citizens.

Yes, my parents are former illegal immigrants. But now they can vote for the next president, just like anyone else.

They are proud to be citizens, and I am proud of the sacrifices they made so that my brothers and I could have better lives than they did.

They did not bring drugs. They have not raped anyone. The only problems they had were the ones they and many others like them were escaping from. I can confidently say that my parents are model citizens — hard-working, church-going, salt-of-the-earth folks who only want to contribute to the society that gave them a chance.

There are many issues with the current immigration debate, but the phrase “build the wall” is now a rallying cry to those who think that any demographic change is a negative one.

Over the weekend, there was an incident involving two Wichita State fraternities at a philanthropic flag football game, where a member of Beta Theta Pi reportedly said, “link arms and build a wall” in reference to Sigma Lambda Beta, a Latino-based fraternity.

What sentiment would that member of Beta Theta Pi be trying to express by shouting this phrase, especially during a flag football game? Maybe he was simply expressing his political beliefs? He has every right to do that if he so wishes, but this also emphasizes my whole point.

To me, and to others students who are undocumented, this phrase means, “We don’t like your kind, and we want to keep you out.”

What makes this worse than calling us something like “beaner” or “spic” is that it isn’t just an insult about our culture or skin color. It’s a sentiment to remove us from the supposed identity of the United States.

There is such a fear of anything other than white being “the new normal” that the current administration treats its detained immigrants like rats under the pretense of “stopping the next 9/11.” They are now equating illegal immigration with organized terrorism.

The fact is, most Americans would not be able to tell an illegal immigrant from an ordinary citizen. Using the phrase “build the wall” signals that they no longer care to make that differentiation. We are all illegal now, and we must be dealt with.

There are so many issues with the current immigration debate, but shouting “build the wall” will only increase tension and division on a campus that prides itself on its diversity and inclusion.

Hate and ignorance are easy because they allow a person to reject reality whenever they see fit.

They allow someone to not see people as human beings when they fill their magazines with bullets. They allow that person to forget about the life that each person lives as they load their magazine into their AR-15.

They allowed that person to only see a faceless enemy as they repeatedly pulled the trigger, sending hate and destruction to any poor soul who bothered to go shop at Wal-Mart, or visit a garlic festival, or see their favorite country artist, or watch a new movie, or give reverence to the deity of their choice.

“Build the wall” isn’t about national security. It’s about embracing that which makes this country and any other country truly ugly — fear and hate for that which is different.