The Shutdown Is Over and the Wall Is Still Stupid


With the federal government back up and running, federal employees are getting back pay (though contract employees mostly get nothing), and Congress is still talking about a border wall. Trump’s border wall is an expensive piece of stupidity that should be put to rest once and for all. BBC has a lengthy and comprehensive fact check on the wall, including these important facts:

Trump initially proposed a solid concrete wall along the whole border, to be paid for by Mexico. Now he wants something other than concrete, over less than the whole border, to be paid for by U.S. taxpayers.

His wall is still a stupid idea because:

  • A wall will not stop the majority of unauthorized migrants who arrive here on temporary visas and then overstay.
  • A wall will not stop drug trafficking, because most drugs entering the country through Mexico come through legal border crossings in vehicles.
  • A wall will not stop crime, because unauthorized migrants do not bring crime: they are more law-abiding than U.S. citizens.
  • A wall will not do anything about the “crisis at the border” because there is no such crisis: the number of people crossing without authorization was more than 1.6 million in 2000, and less than 400,000 last year. The number has been below 800,000 every year since 2008, and below 400,000 for seven of the past eight years.

And in other news

Human rights organizations have filed at least four lawsuits since March, challenging government failure to follow the law that requires placing immigrant children “in the least restrictive setting available. Among the lawsuits:

“A class action lawsuit on behalf of migrant children and their potential sponsors challenges “egregious delays” in the release of the youths from ORR custody because of rigorous fingerprint background checks.

“A class action lawsuit represents migrant teenagers detained by ICE who came to the US when they were 17 years old and arrested when they turned 18; the legal action calls on ICE to follow the federal mandate that immigrant teenagers should be placed in “the least restrictive setting available.”

“A class action lawsuit accuses the Office of Refugee Resettlement of working with ICE to “facilitate civil immigration enforcement against sponsors.”

If you want to know why so many Guatemalans are seeking asylum, The Nation has a long explanation, which makes sense, because the answer is in “circles within circles in the tortured history of Guatemala, all spinning forward to this dismal moment.

Seeking asylum doesn’t mean getting asylum, as the New York Times explains in another long read analyzing the ongoing crisis in immigration courts, and warning that, “More than any border wall, the wait to have their cases heard is the largest barrier many migrants will face to settling in the United States.” Once they do get their day in court, the NYT reports,  “About one in five asylum cases completed last year ended in a grant, a rate that has mostly held steady over time.” About two in five asylum were denied, and about two in five “closed for other reasons.”

One hopeful note: some immigration judges are refusing to follow former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ edicts denying asylum to all victims of domestic violence and gang violence.

“In the San Francisco case, Judge Miriam Hayward (who has since retired from the bench) found “Mexican females” to constitute a cognizable particular social group. In Arlington, Assistant Chief Immigration Judge Deepali Nadkarni made the same finding for the group consisting of “women in Honduras.”  …

“In addition to their particular social group analysis, both decisions conclude that at least one central reason for the persecution suffered was the asylum applicant’s membership in the gender-defined group.  For example, in the San Francisco case, Judge Hayward found such nexus was established by a combination of specific statements made by the male persecutor (i.e. “a woman’s only job was to shut up and obey her husband,” and “I’m the man and you’re going to do what I say”); a report of an expert on domestic violence citing gender as a motivating factor for domestic violence; and a statement in a multi-agency report that violence against women in Mexico “is perpetrated, in most cases, to conserve and reproduce the submission and subordination of them derived from relationships of power.”

“In her decision, Judge Nadkarni held that the size of the group defined by gender does not prevent it from being defined with particularity, and noted that the BIA “has routinely recognized large groups as defined with particularity.”

About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet,, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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