One of the key wedge issues that makes Americans love or hate Donald Trump is “The Border Wall” as it is a strong reflection of their inner world view. Some see America (and the West as a whole) as being under siege from system draining, ungrateful, illegal immigrants, while others see the country’s “Melting Pot” and openness to be its key strengths. The Wall plays into the narrative of both sides being a means of repression or salvation respectively. However, the actual physical barrier on the border is of far less practical importance to keeping out illegal immigrants, than the invisible barriers that Trump is continuing to erect right now.
Obviously any obstacle or defense can be penetrated. Drugs/weapons find their way into prisons while prisoners at times themselves escape. Guns may be banned in Country X but terrorists always seem to have them. The Berlin wall may have be lined with machine gun nests and barbed wire and yet people got through it. When Trump declared that he would “build a great great wall on our southern border and I’ll have Mexico pay for that wall”, many hysterical fanatics on both sides jumped to extremes proclaiming over social media that either The Wall would stop illegal immigration or that it would completely fail regardless of Trump’s efforts. Of course the truth is somewhere in between.
True the Berlin Wall was violated many times, but the amount of people who actually risked prison/death to get to the other side was greatly reduced by its existence. If East Germany saw that they had a critical mission to keep people in, then ultimately their strategy worked overall as very few people actually made it through. Trump’s barrier is similar. It is guaranteed that people will get around it, dig under it, cut through it, but doing so is no easy task. Furthermore, the Berlin Wall sent a message to the population, “you’re staying here, you’re lives are here, get used to it”. The Border Wall sends the message that outsiders are not welcome, that no one wants anyone to come over this border illegally. Essentially it is a giant, anti-welcome mat, and from the perspective of someone who believes that the subconscious is the real battlefield of the 21st century, spending a few billion on a potent message is good government spending.
However, speaking from personal experience, it must be noted that the real means by which people immigrate to a country is by being given the time to be there and build a life in the new location. Jumping over a fence doesn’t just automatically give you a job doing drywall and a monthly welfare check. Immigration takes time, even the illegal kind, thus Trump’s creation of and recent expansion of travel bans of certain foreign nations blocks the ability of people from these countries to “start a life” in America, which is extends The Wall far beyond America’s physical borders.
Often times Work&Travel programs, university study, and other seemingly short term means to enter a country for a half a year or so allow enough time for the individual to start to build a life there even if their source of income is a bit shady. Although, as stated above, no ban/barrier is perfect, when it becomes impossible to exploit a Work&Travel program as a stepping stone to illegal immigration in to the United States, this makes illegally immigrating from a banned country look like a Berlin Wall sprint. There probably are ways to illegally immigrate from countries on the list but the tried and true method of getting into America with some permit and never leaving, for them, is done like a dinner.
People forget that only American citizens have the right to come and go from the territory of the United States freely, and that the USA has the power to reject any non-Americans from crossing the border, for any reason be it fair, unfair, or other. Although there is a lot of political will for a global society and a borderless globalized world the bureaucracy is still built on the idea of there being citizens under the constitution and non-citizens being under someone else’s jurisdiction. Citizens have the keys to the house, non-citizens have to ring the doorbell and wait.
Of course, we should not forget that there is a lot of hypocrisy in Travel Ban in terms of who is on the list. The logic of the list officially is to target nations that create terrorists and “bad guys” from countries America does not like, who pose some sort of general threat. That is the officially stated intent but the reality of the Travel Ban is that it essentially blocks immigration from the countries on the list as it makes getting one’s foot in the door almost impossible.
The choices on the list can be infuriating as terrorist factories like Saudi Arabia are NOT included, where as harmless secular Kyrgyzstan is. On the surface this makes no sense as the amount of dead Americans, killed by Saudi inspired Wahhabism is starting to get pretty large whereas the only crime the Kyrgyz have done to America is ask them to stop using their airport after some unpleasant events like the murder of an ethnic-Russian truck driver by a U.S. Soldier (according to the Kyrgyz side).
The stated official goal of keeping terrorists out by keeping the Kyrgyz out of America is absurd and hypocritical. However, using the terrorism lingo as an excuse to block potential immigrants from a broad range of nations based on absolutely zero logic is a highly effective tactic for the anti-immigration wing of American politics. Trump may seem like a simpleton, but he has built the physical and now bureaucratic infrastructure to make illegal immigration vastly more difficult, just as he promised. The Work&Travel supported visa > Working Illegally > Getting Amnesty\Welfare route is closed for these chosen nations. Trump has built “The Wall” in ways far beyond what anyone expected. The Mexicans may not have paid for it… yet… but that could change in time.