Thursday, October 15, 2020
Guest blogger: Nicolette Bencito, law student, University of San Francisco
Immigration-related issues has taken a backseat during this year’s presidential election, and immigration advocates are concerned about the potential implications. During the first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former-Vice President Joe Biden, not a single immigration question was posed by the moderator despite it being a huge part of Trump’s platform in 2016 and his presidency. Even during the vice-presidential debate, Sen. Kamala Harris only briefly mentioned immigration in the context of the travel ban that Trump put in place shortly after taking office and referenced Trump’s anti-immigrant statements about Mexicans coming over the border, in which he had called them “rapists” and “criminals.” While immigration issues are currently being overshadowed by concerns revolving around the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration is still engaging in anti-immigrant agendas that disproportionally affect thousands of lives each day. In particular, the Trump administration is currently in an all-out push to build the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border before the election on November 3, and it looks like they are on track to complete 450 miles of construction by the end of 2020.
As reported in the beginning of October, the Trump administration has been successful in building 341 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border wall, and construction crews have been adding about two miles per day. This is a drastic increase of construction, nearly doubling the production rate since the beginning of this year. The construction of the border wall has been accelerated by the government’s ability to cut through national forests, wildlife preserves, and other public lands already under federal control while also bypassing environmental laws and other safeguards during this process. Environmental activists and Native American groups are witnessing the consequences of this construction firsthand, as archaeological sites and fragile ecosystems have been compromised with irreversible damage to the land and residing species. In Arizona, the U.S. government has also been able to accelerate this project by using dynamite to level the steep sides of Guadalupe Canyon in the southeastern part of the state. This costs the federal government more than $41 million per mile to build the border wall. The Trump administration, with the help of border patrol officers, has imposed the border wall on members of the O’odham nation and bulldozed near ancestral burial sites and through a fragile desert oasis. There is no intention to slow down construction any time soon.
In the midst of an economic crisis surrounding a global pandemic, it is alarming to realize that billions of dollars are being designated to serve anti-immigrant polices while a significant portion of the U.S. population is in dire need of government assistance and adequate healthcare. The only entities that seem to be profiting from the border wall construction are private companies that have secured funds through government contracts. To achieve Trump’s goal of finishing 450 miles of construction by the end of 2020, crews have been working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on at least five different locations on the borders. Deemed as “one of the most expensive federal infrastructure projects in U.S. history,” CBP officials view the border wall construction as a victory in the war on national security, despite the lack of research about whether such measures actually deter unauthorized border crossings. Meanwhile, hundreds of migrants die or are injured each year due to the perilous conditions faced while attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Even those who are successful in crossing may be subject to interrogation and abuse at the hands of border patrol officers and ultimately suffer long-term emotional and psychological trauma from the journey.
While the presidential candidates have not yet addressed their current stance on immigration-related polices during the debates, it has been made clear that the Trump administration will continue to build the border wall as scheduled and will not stop unless elected out of office. Trump has recently claimed that not only will the border wall increase national security, but it has also “stopped [the spread] of COVID.” These inaccurate statements and alarming actions against migrant populations will continue to fuel the anti-immigrant rhetoric that currently plagues our country today. It is essential that voters cast their ballots this coming November to put an end to the Trump administration and to stop the building of the U.S.-Mexico border wall so that our country is able to take active steps toward economic improvement and true immigration reform.
Miroff, Nick, Trump administration in an all-out push to build border wall before election, https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/trump-border-wall-push/2020/09/29/689bc740-f8f5-11ea-a510-f57d8ce76e11_story.html
Narea, Nicole, Trump reshaped the US immigration system—but it’s been ignored at the debates, https://www.vox.com/2020/10/8/21507407/trump-immigration-debate-2020-biden-pence-harris