Ian Levy is a political science sophomore and co-president of Cal Poly Democrats. The views expressed in this letter to the editor do not necessarily reflect those of Mustang News.
There are many consequences to a government shutdown. Confusion is rampant about who can get their food stamp SNAP benefits, our national parks are being entirely disregarded, and hundreds of thousands of federal workers likely won’t see a paycheck for their time furloughed. With that said, one of the biggest problems of the shutdown is actually a problem hiding in plain sight – the cause of the shutdown. The shutdown is not the result of anything other than fear and ignorance to facts, and while all the consequences of the shutdown are surly important and should be covered, this is an equally prevalent issue.
For some background, we are currently witnessing the longest ongoing federal government shutdown this nation has ever seen. The shutdown, which began on December 22, is only occurring because of $5 billion dollars that President Donald Trump wants for his border wall. Some see this as a necessary step to securing the U.S border that might benefit the U.S, others see through this front and realize that there is a deeper meaning to the wall – that immigrants aren’t welcome. Clearly, this is a tense political issue.
The message that immigrants aren’t welcome isn’t anything new. There has always been a hidden narrative of immigrants taking jobs in America, and President Trump’s comments are just a different manifestation of the same message of fearing the unknown. This fear is caused by a lack of understanding on the parts of Americans and Mustangs alike about what is happening at our border. Through this narrative, many have manipulated fear to say that drugs are being peddled through our border, that only the worst people are coming through, and that a wall is necessary. I present to you a more factual analysis, not predicated on fear. But this isn’t a one way road. Fact check everything you read on the news (including this article) and you’ll be better for it!
Firstly, let’s try and agree on some facts. Despite what you’ve heard from the news or read on flyers posted around campus, the 10 foot concrete wall barricading Barack Obama’s home is as much a wall as a corgi is an attack dog. His house is generally open from the sidewalk, but of course security is present as it is at any former U.S President’s estate. Secondly, the myth that gang members, rapists, and drug smugglers are coming into our country through Mexico, is exactly that, a myth. Even Donald Trump, the main faucet of this hateful lie, has cited no evidence that it’s true other than, “talking to people at the border.”
According to Politifact, a binational study found that there is no evidence of these claims, and that migration from Mexico has almost primarily been for U.S labor demand. If you look back through history, you’ll find all kinds of evidence that the U.S is often the instigator of immigration when they need labor, such was the case with the 1942 Bracero program. We do this because many (not all) economic studies show that immigration of unskilled laborers actual tends to grow overall GDP both in the short term, and down the road. The idea that there is some deep rooted problem in America of drugs coming through our border is a lie created by Trump to defend his explicitly racist views. Ever consider why no drug smugglers have ever come from Norway or Switzerland?
Thirdly, let’s tackle the issue of the wall. Despite conventional (and late Ming Dynasty-esque) reasoning, a wall will not solve the problem of “illegal immigration,” nor will it prevent undocumented immigrants from coming to America. I challenge you to find a truth today. Look at the data about how much undocumented immigration comes from the Mexican border, and what you’ll find is that most sources agree that the Mexican border is not where “illegal immigrants” are coming from. In fact, overstaying a visa is by far the largest method of becoming an undocumented immigrant in the U.S. How do you overstay a visa, you might ask? By flying in a plane – the mortal enemy of the archaic wall.
So what does this mean? If our country needs to shut down its government and force confusion on the economically disadvantaged just to appease ignorance and fear, then we have truly stooped to a new low. I urge you not to go along with a poorly conceived lie about drugs coming through the U.S border, or about walls around Obama’s home, and open your eyes to the true victims of the shutdown. The final food stamps were issued Sunday January 20, and currently, no food stamps will be issued for the whole month of February. At the end of the day, what do we care about more, our citizens who now need to find food for the next month, or appeasing a false idea that all Mexicans push drugs into this country, a country founded on the backs of immigrants. The people hurt by the shutdown are every single one of us.