The ethics and morality of a border wall

great wall of china
The Great Wall of China.  Built to keep China safe from marauding invaders from the north.

Before doing a bit research on migration into the U.S.A., I had no idea about the numbers of unlawful entries into the U.S.A every year.  I am astounded by some of what I learned.

If someone were to tell you that annually there is somewhere between 250,000 to 360,000 unlawful migrants who cross the Mexican border into the United States EVERY year, what might most people think?  Would it be considered a national emergency?  There are already 12 million unlawful residents in the United States today so you can do your calculations for estimated annual illegal entry [added: “including an estimated 42%, or 5 million, who overstay their visas. This “42%” people are using is from a old Pew Research report.” ].

This figure would be much higher if it weren’t for almost 400,000 who were apprehended in 2018.  These are facts and I’m not making these up (Click: stats from stats U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE).  In previous years (1995-2000), the numbers used to hover around 1.4 – 1.6 million annually who were apprehended (Click: FactCheck.org).

Over six decades ago, my parents immigrated legally to Canada (a nation that I love and live in today).  My grandfather and great-grandfather (Sam) had lived and worked in Canada (e.g., the building of the nationwide railway) but decided to return to their homeland of China.

spiderman wallAs a child of an immigrant, I appreciate immigration and defend legal immigration.  Without immigrants, our two countries of Canada and the U.S.A., or any other western nation would not be what they are today–enriched by their diversity of culture and ethnicities.

However, I hope you can allow me to speak honestly.  Any country in the world ought to take migration or immigration seriously; otherwise, why even have borders?

Illegal entry into any country in the world can, and ought to have some consequences.  Someone I know very well have daily dealings with migrants who are apprehended by U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Let me share with you a story.  I remember many years ago when I was still a university student in Virginia. During the summer months, our family intended to bring an aunt over to cross the U.S.-Canada border.  We would go across to do some cross-border shopping about 2-3 times per year.  Some go as often as twice per month as a family outing.  It was an ordinary thing for people to do on a weekend, and it still is.  I don’t know why but either I had forgotten, or just out of plain ignorance, failed to pick up a day-visa at the border for my aunt because she was a Chinese citizen visiting us in Canada for a month.

The result.  My poor aunt was apprehended and my father’s vehicle was almost impounded by U.S. Customs.  I was also the driver.  I learned my lesson: Be careful and honest and direct with customs agents.  The penalty could be serious and it could have been more serious for me because I might not have been able to return to finish my last semester of studies.

Now back to my question and this is where it gets dicey:  If illegal migration is an ethical issue, then why is building a wall, in order to prevent illegal migration, not an ethical issue?  And I know the left might feel a little bit squeemish thinking about an honest answer but just leave our political leanings aside for a moment.

First, allow me to put this so-called wall in another context.  Let’s think of other countries that have, or have had, a wall or fence:

unlawful border crossing
The U.S.-Mexico border wall experienced an average of 400,000 migrants who were apprehended in 2018.

-East and West Berlin;
-India and Pakistan;
-North Korea and South Korea;
-India and Bangladesh;
-European Union;
-Gaza Strip and Israel;
-Egypt and Gaza Strip;
-Israel and West Bank;
-Hadrian Wall in northern England; and
-ancient China and Mongolia (Great Wall of China).

I’ve never been to the Great Wall of China but I am amazed at the immensity of its height and width. It was a massive labor-intensive undertaking in order to keep out the marauding Mongol tribes, and to keep the Chinese nation safe. I’d say that was an ethical and moral thing.  It prevented war and potential violence, theft, rape, and other forms of violence from Mongolia and Manchuria.

I am not necessarily left or right on the political spectrum on the wall issue.  Let’s  analyze the ethics of having a barrier of some sort at national borders.

I will affirm my belief that a barrier between any two countries could be considered an ethical and moral matter.

Let’s also set aside what I would consider non-sense from the left that those who accuse Trump as being racist because he is proposing building a wall.  Are other nations like Germany, Israel, Korea, India and Pakistan racist because they’ve built walls to protect their people?

If migrants pour into any country without legal documents or fail to apply for a visa, it ought to become an ethical issue.  You might be reading this from South Korea, Germany, the U.S. or India. Walls have been a normalized if your people have felt threatened by illegal border crossings.

I remember years ago when I was able to cross the U.S.-Canadian border with just a driver’s licence or health card. After 9-11, it all changed. Today, I need to show a passport.

If an outsider attempts to intrude into a high-security office building, ought this be considered an ethical issue? Of course it is. If someone breaks in, is killed or robbed, it also becomes a moral issue.  An ethical and moral thing to do would be to increase the building’s security to protect sensitive information, or important people or property.

The bible speaks of an example of Jerusalem’s wall being re-built due to decay through decades and centuries of neglect. Ezra 4:12-13 states:

“The king should know that the people who came up to us from you have gone to Jerusalem and are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. They are restoring the walls and repairing the foundations.  Furthermore, the king should know that if this city is built and its walls are restored, no more taxes, tribute or duty will be paid, and eventually the royal revenues will suffer.”

If ancient Jerusalem failed to protect its own people from invaders who would rob, kill, torture and forcibly exile its people, might that be considered an ethical and moral issue?

Does a nation have a duty to protect its own people and provide them physical and even economic security?  You better believe it!  If our nation failed to provide us with national security, we would be up in arms.

Today, the U.S. might be in a similar situation. Drugs, gangs and violence are not the only issues.  Immigration is very much tied to the economy.  How about protecting the economy and jobs of American citizens? Does a nation not have a right to economic self-determination?  Every other country on earth seems to have the right to secure their own and borders.  Why not the U.S.A.?

With many nations around the world watching from the comforts of their own television sets, it’s rather easy to accuse Trump of being racist, but if unlawful entry into your own country was happening and it affected YOUR job and YOUR family’s security, you would do something about it, wouldn’t you?

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libertyculture

Reflections on when faith & the scriptures intersect life & society.

12 thoughts on “The ethics and morality of a border wall”

    1. I hope I’ve done my research and I’m willing to make corrections of any incorrect information. But as you may know, presentations of data can come with their subjective angles, whether from the right or the left.

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  1. https://www.politifact.com/california/statements/2018/aug/24/kevin-mccarthy/mostly-true-visa-overstays-account-half-all-people/
    The problem with this post is that you are posting misleading misinformation, most illegal immigration is based on people over staying their Visa’s NOT at the border. It is also true that Immigration was down before Trumps election https://www.ft.com/content/3d883d54-f28a-11e8-ae55-df4bf40f9d0d
    Also if there was so much of an Emergency, why did Trump do nothing before now? He’s had two years to do something about it, yet, nothing. Trump has also been proven times and time again that he IS racist.
    The FACTS are that rape, drugs were already an US problem and committed more by American citizens than Illegal Immigrants. Clearly it’s already working since they manage to catch such a huge number of criminals. Illegal Immigration is already considered a misdemeanour.

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      1. Yes, I’ve seen or read something about Trump’s statements. Any racial slurs he’s made in the past, he is accountable for.

        Anyone I know in my family who makes racial slurs would definitely hear back from me.

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    1. First, thanks for visiting and for your comments. I really appreciate your thoughts.

      You are right about many overstaying their visas. It’s about 42% (estimated). I will make that edit to my post.
      https://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/visa-overstays-outnumber-illegal-border-crossings-trend-expected-continue-n730216
      So 42% of 12 million puts it at 7 million who still come through the border, while 5 million overstay their work, visitors or student visas.

      Illegal migration had been falling since 2006, but even at 400,000, it’s still a problem don’t you think? Since Trump came in, the atmosphere at ICE have changed drastically.

      Drug cartels and prostitution is problem amongst some illegals. My number of 360,000 unlawful migrants is on the low end but it’s probably around 400,000 as I’ve seen on a N.Y. Times article (and one here too:
      https://www.theepochtimes.com/us-border-crisis-100000-illegal-immigrants-in-60-days_2737307.html

      I agree, the problems you mentioned are definitely a problem of American citizens. But unscrupulous illegals will bring smuggle in young girls and keep them in a prostitution ring within the country. People coming in are getting younger today than before–often teenagers who are migrating alone, and that makes them very vulnerable. Sad thing is that they are forcing young teenage boys and using them to fight in drug-related gangs.

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