“We’re Gonna Build That Wall, And Mexico Is Going To Pay For It”

By Ian Sanz, Staff Writer

President Trump’s proposal for the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border has been the subject of widespread controversy, even resulting in a federal government shutdown in January, which became the longest in American history. Advocates for the wall claim its construction will improve the economy and make citizens safer from illegal immigrants. Opponents to the wall, however, claim it would be an ineffective and racist solution for a nonexistent problem.

Coming Legally or Illegally
Miami High students, being predominantly Hispanic, have real perspectives on the immigration issue. Students who came to the U.S. legally described it as an expensive and arduous mission. Freshman Gilberto Mejia, who came from Guatemala at the age of 4, said, “My mother had been applying for her documents for almost 10 years and had to deal with multiple lawyers to get clearance to come with me.”

The illegal process can take much less time, but it is often much more dangerous. An anonymous male senior, who came illegally from El Salvador at the age of 7, said, “I was too young to remember much. I came with my uncle and cousin in a pack with other people. There’s a lot of violence in El Salvador, so people are always leaving the neighborhood. From what my uncle says, out of the 15 or so people who went with us, only 6 made it to the border. Most people got sick, got heatstroke, or went off without notice.”

No Wall Needed
The necessity of border security and the wall is contested by students and administrators of different backgrounds. Senior Lu Ona, who immigrated to the U.S. from Panama, said, “Borders are a formal necessity, but a border wall is not. A physical barrier would be a xenophobic symbol, and ineffective overall.”

Assistant principal Mr. Zabala doesn’t think a wall would be effective. “The people trying to cross are seeking refuge from horrible conditions, and a wall wouldn’t stop them,” he said. “I’m also curious as to whether Trump’s decision is coming from the right place. If Canada suffered an economic crash which created a ton of Canadian refugees, would he advise to build a wall at our Northern border too? A better alternative to the wall would be a greater frequency of ICE raids on businesses.”

Build That Wall
Senior Jaime Negrin, who was born in the U.S. but is of Cuban heritage, said, “Border security is very important. In 2018 alone, illegal aliens committed 506 cases of assault, 322 cases of burglary, and 3 cases of homicide.”

Negrin went on to espouse his support for the border wall. “There are currently millions of illegal aliens in the country. We have to secure American land and American jobs for America’s people, for our children,” he said.

Beyond The Wall
To arrive at a deep understanding of the issue, one needs to understand the bigger picture that causes many Latin Americans to immigrate. Attendance office clerk Maria “Lupita” Cameron, who immigrated from Mexico, said, “A country is like a home. If your parents treat you right, give you food, help you with work and school, you’d have no reason to run away. People leave Latin America because there’s no food, no work, and so much violence.
Ms. Lupita wonders if the wall would really keep Americans safe. She pointed out, “The terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center had their papers. Most of the undocumented people entering our border, however, go on to farm the food we eat and construct our buildings. They want opportunity and are willing to work way harder and for way less pay than naturalized citizens.”


Illegal Immigration Facts:

  • There are an estimated half million illegal entries into the United States each year (Pew Research Center)
  • The latest estimate of the number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States is 10.7 million (Pew Research Center)
  • 105,140 of the illegal immigrants detained by ICE in 2018 had been convicted criminals (ICE.gov)
  • Illegal immigrants were 142% more likely to commit a crime in the state of Arizona than native citizens (Crime Prevention Research Center)