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Wall is unaffordable, unstoppable


March 28, 2019

Recently The Ledger asked local citizens whether Montana troops should be sent to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border. Of the six replies, all supported the possibility. Two spun off into support for The Wall, one into sympathy for President Trump. That same week I received an anonymous e-mail supporting a wall as a cure for immigration problems, as proved by God’s directive to the Hebrews to build a wall around Jerusalem some 3,000 years ago. It’s obvious that this Southwest issue, particularly The Wall, is on everyone’s mind, even up here in Montana.

Judging by any general information available in my little world, immigration problems are serious, complex, and have not been successfully addressed by any President, party, or Congress going back at least to the ’80s. But, I’m not convinced that Montana troops should head south, or that a wall will solve anything either, though it may be important for political symbolism.

To deal with some of my skepticism: first, technological changes and geography differences alone make a Biblical example silly and illogical, though it might be an omen, since Jerusalem was destroyed – several times – and history is riddled with other failed wall systems.

Second, the idea that “locals know best” is popular in Sanders County on such topics as land use and property rights. So, do locals along the Mexico border also know best regarding their own issues? Some support The Wall. Plenty of others do not (civic leaders in El Paso, for instance, and some individual ranchers). Should those who don’t support The Wall be trampled simply because their views run counter to what the President thinks?

Third, “federal over-reach” is a popular battle cry for Republicans. Why is it being ignored on this issue of immigration? Farms, ranches, and towns and cities will be hacked apart by The Wall’s eminent-domain powers. If President Obama’s monument directives in Utah were over-reach stemming from environmental concerns (real or imagined), why isn’t The Wall federal over-reach stemming from immigration and political concerns (real or symbolic)?

Fourth, where would a Mexico/U.S. wall leave us with regard to our three other major borders, all of which deal daily with the potential for human-trafficking, drug imports, and terrorist travel? Three more walls?

Fifth, in the event The Wall doesn’t solve the problems, what about waste of natural resources in the form of steel and concrete? Can we really afford this? Wouldn’t that material make a needed improvement in our thousands of failing bridges and highways? From whom are we buying the material? And, what about damages to wildlife, desert eco-systems, existing parks and back country, aesthetics?

Sixth, if we’re going to use National Guard troops to patrol borders, why send Montana’s troops south? Shouldn’t they be training and on-call along the Canadian border? True, the flow of immigrants there is minimal, but the potential for terrorists, drugs, and human trafficking is wide open and well-known.

Seventh, statistics show that overwhelmingly, drug imports happen by boatloads or in truckload quantities at developed border entrances. A wall won’t fix this part of the problem. More significantly, why are drugs coming in? Apparently, multitudes of American stoners want them. Why blame other countries for American sins?

Eighth, what happened to Republicans’ eight-year panic about deficit spending?

I know that critics should offer solutions, but I have none. I also know that I’d be more confident in the solutions offered by the president if I could trust his word, or if my questions were being answered by other leaders. Neither is likely to happen. Thus, to me, The Wall remains an unaffordable, unsupportable choice for potential solutions.

Ron Rude,



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