Letter to the Editor: Previous op-ed supporting border wall misconstrues facts

In the Jan. 28 issue of The Mercury, an op-ed by Alexander Christie — entitled “Shutdown at the D.C. Corral” — asserted that the recent partial government closure was necessary to reexamine the issue of border security. This, among other parts of the article, is categorically false.

If the shutdown was meant to heighten the stakes, as Christie suggests — making it clear to Democrats that the Republicans are unwilling to delay or quibble on this issue — I would ask why the government is open today. Both political parties, after over a month of a partially shut down government, have not bent in the slightest on their respective positions. If missing two weeks of paycheck is a trivial price to pay, why would the president and Republican leadership cave entirely to Democrat demands to end the shutdown and still not receive a cent for the border wall? The shutdown ultimately accomplished nothing and did not alter the national political situation on border security at all. 

Christie goes on to highlight the hypocrisy of some leaders of the Democratic Party. While it’s true that Democrats, including Barack Obama, did expand the amount of physical security on the border, Obama deported more people than either of his preceding administrations and more than President Trump has so far. If Christie would contend, as he does in the first paragraph, that immigration enforcement has been neglected up to this point, I suspect he will be surprised learn of this fact. And as for why Democrats are offended by the Trump administration, let us not forget the current administration’s child separation policy. Many children still have not been returned to their families, and many will likely never see them again. This is a fundamental difference between today’s immigration enforcement and that of the past.

The suggestion that there is no sympathy for border patrol agents is a lie of omission. A simple Google search will yield acknowledgment after acknowledgement from all over the Democratic Party that our law enforcement agents have a difficult job that should be respected. Christie does notice, however, that slow and inefficient legal immigration results in a more illegal immigration, but crossing the U.S. border and seeking asylum, which is what the vast majority of non-visa overstay immigration is classified as, is legal. If the goal of the Trump administration is to prevent these people from exercising their rights under international law, the answer is not to build a wall. It’s to hire more immigration judges to process and deport them faster, much like Obama did.

The final flaw in the op-ed is a systemic misunderstanding on Christie’s part. This is the result of a hyper-focus on particular statistics that seem useful in support of his central narrative. Disregard for wider trends and larger collections of related issues is why Christie has difficulty understanding why people would support Democratic policies, or why he argues that the wall is unnecessary or why this administration in particular should be treated with skepticism and distrust. The issue is not about the cost of the wall, as Christie makes it out to be. It’s about the 800,000 workers’ paychecks being withheld as a political tool and the complete distaste of the process of governance shown by the Republicans and the president. The shutdown was the direct cause of a singular action on the part of the president to veto a spending bill and the Republican Party’s decision to not allow any continuing resolution to come to the floor until the president gave the go-ahead. Democrats presented over a dozen bills to end the shutdown, but all were rebuffed by Speaker of the House Mitch McConnell.

In short, the author of “Shutdown at the D.C. Corral” is simply ignorant of the incredibly complex sociopolitical issues that plague our nation’s immigration system, willfully ignoring his party’s contribution to that plague and looking for simple, unrealistic solutions. This is what happens when a holistic approach to social issues is ignored.

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