On Tuesday, President Donald Trump will be in San Diego and will visit the site where eight border wall prototypes are on display. The visit has about it the sense of a dream shopping spree for a president who made a “big, beautiful wall” one of the cornerstones of his ultimately successful campaign.
On the campaign trail, Trump’s promise to build a wall resonated strongly. For millions concerned about a country overrun with undocumented foreigners, a demonstrable percentage of whom are every bit the “bad hombres” Trump warned about, the possibility of such a project triggered a “Halleluiah!” moment after decades of political stasis on both sides of the aisle.
Mr. Trump is on the right track on immigration and seems to be holding firm on his promises. He surely understands that unless the proposed wall is augmented by a virtual shopping cart full of other anti-illegal immigration measures—measures even more impregnable than a 30-foot wall—illegal entry into the United States will remain a significant problem.
Recently, President Trump’s DACA proposal (more generous that President Obama’s) was rejected because agreement was not forthcoming from Democrats about what else was part of the bargain: chain migration and a dangerously random visa lottery. Talk coming out of the impasse was that the Dems might have agreed to a wall but could not accept intrinsically more effective restrictions that would staunch the influx of illegal aliens. The inescapable conclusion is that Democrats fear changes to substantive bureaucratic mechanisms more than they fear a structural impediment.
That fact should ensure that the president will not settle for a straightforward compromise which trades a wall for a DACA deal.
Conservatives who hold that immigration is the ballgame issue facing not only the GOP but the nation must remain open to the idea that the wall itself may end up being a largely symbolic edifice, only marginally successful at stopping what it was built to stop. They must be willing to pay out the estimated $25 billion it will cost to build it, while factoring that even with master builder Trump at the federal helm, government projects by their very nature are often subject to significant cost overruns.
This is the part of the argument where Trump-supporting conservative wall realists take pains to ward off excoriation by fellow Trumpservatives. Their position is that that they have no problem building a wall they believe will routinely breached both physically and in myriad roundabout ways. They are OK with spending the $25+ billion, factoring that it’s really a drop in the $4.5 trillion federal budget, and that our trade deficit with Mexico alone could pay for four walls at that price.
They support the wall for its strength as a continent-spanning symbol that stands for the idea that the party is over in terms of illegal entry into the United States. That the era of sovereignty-busting non-policies of the Democrats is finished. A wall signaling to all world nations that “your tired, huddled masses” doesn’t mean anyone who can jump a border, catch a flight, or overstay a visa.
It will symbolize the consignment to history’s ash heap a Democratic Party plan to import and eventually confer citizenship on a Third World horde of entitlement-dependent arrivals that will secure for them votes they can no longer win from the legal citizenry.
Yes, a wall will make illegal entry more difficult, will prevent a significant number of illegals from easily crossing the border. But unless that wall is backed up by comprehensive anti-illegal immigration policies, full-on construction of one of the mighty slabs the president will view on Tuesday may end up falling short of the resonate expectations candidate Trump inspired on his march to the presidency.
The biggest, most beautiful part of Trump’s wall may well be in its symbolic representation, our national announcement to the world that the days of taking advantage of our country’s welcome mat are over. Conversely, it is important that if built, the wall not symbolize failure.
Unless that wall is backed up by an end to chain migration, an end to foolish visa lotteries, the implementation of drone and aircraft surveillance of territory where a wall is unfeasible, a scrupulously-monitored guest worker program, harsh repercussions against sanctuary cities and states, swift and sure punitive action against alien criminals, and a nationally data-based employment verification system, our big, beautiful wall may become a monument to futility, a windblown landmark that stands in testament to an inability to staunch the tide of historical forces that will end America as we know it.