Do You Really Care Who Pays For The Wall?

REUTERS/Jorge Duenes

Joe Alton Contributor
Font Size:

One of Donald Trump’s main promises to the American people is to build a wall along our Southern border. A wall would slow the flood of illegal immigrants to the United States from Mexico and give border agents an additional tool in the security woodshed.

The president-elect’s pledge regarding the wall is pretty standard from speech to speech, and one main clause in that verbal contract is that Mexico will assume the financial obligations relating to the construction. This is met with applause by his supporters, but I wonder: If building a wall is the right thing to do, who really cares if the Mexican government pays for it?

Let’s look at it this way: If your neighbor Ralph has a Rottweiler that insists on pooping in the azaleas, building a fence might be a pretty good idea. Asking your neighbor to pay for that fence, not so much. You might think “heck, worth a shot,” but such a demand probably would lead to worse relations with Ralph. Your neighbor might even recall his ambassador to your garage (his lawnmower) back for “consultation.”

Ralph might not agree about the need for a fence, but he can’t argue with your right to build it on your property. He can argue, however, against your demand that he finance it. The fence itself may or may not cause bad feelings; the demand for payment, successful or not, most certainly would.

End result? You’ve taken a reasonably amicable relationship and thrown it in the dumpster. All for a side issue (who’s paying) that doesn’t figure as a major priority for American voters. I’m not talking about immigration or even the wall in general: I’m talking about telling another nation they have to pay for it. It’s insulting, as we see from the reaction of present and past Mexican presidents, and unnecessary.

President-Elect Trump has spoken about tariffs on imports from Mexico. Tariffs are being proposed as a way that the U.S. can be “reimbursed” for the wall, but why say so publicly? Given the sensitive nature of the situation, is there really a need to publicize tariffs as a fundraiser for a border wall?

I’ve always thought that, if an idea is a good one, it’s worth an investment. If it’s particularly good, who cares if the money comes from another government, your own, or the proceeds from a bake sale at the Moose lodge? Come to think of it, maybe the Moose lodge is preferable. Those contributing would be doing so freely. They wouldn’t complain that their funds were being used for nefarious purposes.

Although I think it would be interesting to see how much of the wall could be built from private donations, the billions it would cost don’t really make that method feasible. In the end, it will have to come out of American taxpayer money. It won’t solve our immigration issues all by itself, but I’ve seen our tax dollars used for worse purposes.