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President Trump, don’t build that wall

The views expressed in this article are the views of the author.

The Senate has failed to overturn President Donald Trump’s National Emergency declaration, which he enacted in February to appropriate funds for building his now-infamous border wall. A wall that, let’s not forget, he promised Mexico would pay for during his presidential campaign.

This ruse should have been easy to see through, since the idea that Mexico would be paying for such a wall was the kind of outlandish joke that even “The Onion” wouldn’t think to print. However, many of Trump’s supporters rallied around him and his supposed show of “decisive leadership.” Now, after years of empty promises and Mexico’s reasonable refusal to even entertain the idea of paying for a border wall, Trump has turned his efforts to using the United States government’s money to make his wall a reality.

President Trump decides to pursue this goal to no end, despite the bipartisan agreement that a border wall is not a practical solution — let alone the “best” solution — to immigration problems in the US. Of all the problems for which the President could have chosen to declare a national emergency, it is disappointing, but not surprising, that he chose to use that particular. Never mind the dropping literacy rate, or that millions of people in the US live in food deserts. Forget the problem of educational disparity and inequity in different racial communities, or millions of people in debt for their college education. Ignore the broken healthcare system that charges American high premiums. There are a whole host of other important challenges facing people every day that deserve more funding than the border wall.

Some said that the wall is to prevent issues of national security.  But, if we build the border wall, we secure the legacy of the United States as a xenophobic nation with a leader who wields tyrannical power. We undermine the very image we portray as a nation that claims freedom, liberty and justice are among its founding principles.

As I sit here in another country and write about the politics of the United States, I think it’s a shame that the image of the nation is on the precipice of being driven into the ground. It can be difficult to separate what a country does from who it’s people are. As we move further away from empathy, understanding and just generally conscionable actions, we must take responsibility for those developments.

Discussing Costa Rican politics in my courses, I’ve watched the other students from the US as they learn of the ways that the government has invested in the well-being of its citizens. That’s not to say that people necessarily think every potential challenge has been addressed. But there’s a clear difference in priorities. Here, people try harder to identify the challenges that affect society at large and address those issues. Meanwhile in the US, contrary to what some rhetoric would have you believe, immigrants are not destabilizing our country, but our willingness to ignore internal threats and the plights of everyday citizens might.