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Aggies weigh in regarding proposed border wall

After prototypes of the proposed border wall were built in San Diego, California, many protesters stood as Donald Trump came to visit on Tuesday, March 13.

There were eight different wall prototypes, each 30 feet tall. Half of the prototypes were made out of concrete.

According to USA Today, Trump said he preferred a wall design that allowed Border Patrol agents to see through in case of any attacks or ambushes. He also said he preferred taller walls, so that people would not be able to climb over them.

“[The wall] will save thousands and thousands of lives, [and] save taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars by reducing crime, drug flow, welfare fraud and burdens on schools and hospitals,” Trump said.

Some New Mexico State University students have indicated they’re not sure just how much of this is true.

NMSU students Thomas Cisneros and Zak Covert mainly worry about how funding for the wall will occur.  Cisneros is studying mechanical engineering and participates in a migrant program at NMSU.

Cisneros feels the money used to build and maintain the wall could be spent on more worthwhile causes such as education.  With family members still back in Mexico, he feels the wall will not just provide a physical boundary, but also a cultural and social boundary that could harm relations between the two countries.

One worry about the wall that Covert has is that it is creating fear of immigrants among United States citizens. “For the people that do not live in the border area and do not actually know what goes on in the border area, [the wall] is a way to implement fear to the mass public to get them to push for the wall. We already have the double-layered fence, so we already have security and most people don’t even know this,” Covert said.

Covert also believes it’s important that there is inclusiveness in our society and that the wall will be counter-productive. He believes it will create more prejudice and isolation in the United States due to fear.

Will the wall save taxpayers money?

The proposed cost to build the wall ranges between $22 billion and $70 billion, with the cost to maintain the wall estimated to be much higher.  This money will come from American taxpayers.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, Trump’s administration requested  $18 billion at the beginning of 2018 in order to build around 700 miles of the wall. That request was denied.

Will the wall reduce crime, drug flow and welfare fraud?

According to Dr. Neil Harvey, a New Mexico State University government professor and current academic department head, this is unlikely. “The studies that have been done on how drugs come into the country [have shown that] it’s unlikely that smugglers would risk losing their loads in desert areas, so they come in through the ports of entry. It is done through hiding the drugs in trucks,” Harvey said.

Moreover, some data suggest immigrants are less likely to commit crimes or be arrested than U.S. born citizens. According to a 2015 National Academy of Sciences study, as the immigrant population has increased, crime has gone down; however, it’s not entirely clear if the study is 100% accurate.

As for whether unauthorized immigrants are using welfare programs, it appears that a large percentage of them are. These programs include food stamps and Medicaid.

Harvey explained that by purchasing things, immigrants are still paying sales tax. Immigrants also pay income tax and contribute to social security, which ultimately helps the economy.  These contributions come directly out of their paychecks.

According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, unauthorized immigrants pay an estimated $11.7 billion a year in state and local taxes.

Regardless of whether taxpayers believe the wall is justifiable, funding for the wall has not yet been established, and without adequate funding the wall cannot be built.

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