The Mahoning County Republican Party tent received a lot of attention at the Canfield Fair over the weekend.
It wasn’t just that the Republican nominee for president stopped by on Monday. The tent had already drawn international attention for a display that had fairgoers sign their name on makeshift bricks to build a wall.
Several people called the fair office to complain about the display, which they found offensive. Mark Munroe, chairman of the Mahoning County Republican Party, told WFMJ there was nothing hateful about the wall.
“This is about national security and border security. It’s about keeping drugs from coming into the country,” Munroe said. “A nation that does not have borders or laws is not a nation.”
Maybe someone should tell Mr. Munroe that states seem to function just fine without protected borders.
But the reason many find the idea of building a border wall offensive is because it suggests undocumented immigration is an exclusively Mexican problem. Or that of all those here without papers, the Mexicans are the only ones Donald Trump cares to remove and exclude from the country.
In addition to being prejudiced, this mischaracterizes the nature of the issue. A 2006 report by the Pew Research Center estimated that about half of undocumented immigrants arrived in the country legally and overstayed their visas. A border wall would not prevent that.
Furthermore, the population of undocumented immigrants peaked at 12.2 million in 2007, and it’s been on the decline since then. The number of undocumented Mexican immigrants in the country also peaked in 2007. Since then, more have left than entered the country.
Trump often characterizes the border wall as a national security issue. Both at the convention and during his immigration speech in Phoenix, he used people who had lost loved ones to crimes committed by undocumented immigrants as political props.
It would be just as easy to trot out victims of crimes committed by people who were born here. Several studies have found that first-generation immigrants are less likely to commit violent crimes than natural born citizens.
Trump also argues that drugs are being smuggled over the border. While it is true the majority of drugs come from the south, the director of the Joint Interagency Task Force South told the BBC that 95 percent of drugs are coming over on boats.
Perhaps Donald Trump hasn’t heard of boats.
When presented with these facts, it’s hard to see how a wall between the United States and Mexico will stop undocumented immigrants from entering the country or decrease crime and drug trafficking.
Rather, the wall starts looking like a cynical ploy to play on people’s xenophobia by reinforcing negative — and inaccurate — stereotypes. In that light, it’s easy to see why many might find the local GOP’s tongue-in-cheek wall offensive.
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