“I will build a great wall on our southern border, and I’ll have Mexico pay for that wall,” Donald Trump pledged on the campaign trail in 2016.
Thirty-two months into his presidency, Trump has built almost no additional miles of border barrier and only upgraded a few miles. Meanwhile, Mexico hasn’t paid a dime. Instead, Trump is raiding the military budget to try to fund the wall’s construction.
The president declared a national emergency to divert the money from the armed forces. It was a move that his fellow Republicans never should have supported.
And now Americans know what’s on the chopping block. The Pentagon just released a list of projects that will lose funding: 127 of them across the world. Among the losers is the Wisconsin National Guard’s 115 Fighter Wing at Truax Field in Madison, which will lose $8 million budgeted for a small-arms range.
President Donald Trump's emergency declaration means that the military will pay for the border wall. A new firing range at Madison's Truax Fie…
The overall losses, totaling $3.6 billion, are staggering. They range from a long-promised middle school for the children of soldiers based at Fort Campbell in Kentucky to money for helping European allies protect themselves in the wake of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Funds to upgrade Navy bases also were siphoned to Trump’s wall.
This unwise fixation on an unnecessary wall is harming America’s national security interests. Count it as one more broken promise from a president who pledged to keep America’s military strong.
Trump likes to paint any opponent of his wall as an advocate for open borders, but that’s not true. We support strong border security, but we also believe that it needs to be smart and effective. Building a giant wall the length of the border is neither.
Barriers make sense — and already exist — in populated areas and trouble spots, but not across vast deserts. Moreover, the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States who overstay their visas each year far exceeds those who enter illegally. A wall won’t do anything to stop that.
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Trump’s failed immigration policies also have ignored the potential for real progress at improving systems for legal immigration.
America needs more immigrants to help keep its economy going strong. Wisconsin farmers, manufacturers and other employers often struggle to fill positions. The number of working-age adults has been in decline here. If our state doesn’t attract more workers, we won’t have enough people to replace retiring baby boomers.
“For Wisconsin to position itself for future success, we must find ways to keep the people we have as well as bring people back into our state,” said a report by the Wisconsin Counties Association. Immigration can help solve that challenge.
So, too, can finally making good on the promise to Dreamers — young immigrants brought here illegally as children who have known no other country than the United States. Those who have built solid, responsible lives here should not have to live in fear of deportation to countries they don’t remember.
Traux Field is one of 127 projects on a list of military base improvements — spanning 23 states, 19 countries and three U.S. territories.
America doesn’t need a wall across the whole stretch of the border with Mexico. It needs comprehensive legislation to encourage legal immigration and to eliminate incentives for illegal border crossings.
But Trump has done nothing to fix the system. He has only made it worse and depleted national defense in the process.