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Increased border control costs lives and money

Credit: Paola Mathus/ Credit: Paola Mathus/

Since the country was founded, the rhetoric of U.S. immigration policy has been a major focus of politicians. This holds especially true for the most recent presidential election cycle. Current U.S. President Donald Trump quite literally made the “wall” — metaphorical or physical — the slogan of his campaign, proposing a supposedly simple and clear-cut strategy to magically solve all the problems going on in this nation by keeping the people he views as inferior out.

As ridiculous as this kind of argument sounds, Trump went on to become the most powerful man in the country and is now implementing a plan against immigration in a country that was essentially built on immigration.

And yes, it’s sadly true that you have probably heard this argument enough times that you have grown numb to the unfortunate situations of undocumented immigrants; there’s not much you can do about it, because you are probably just an idealistic, powerless student. The situation is probably not that relatable anyway, because most of us at the university are either protected by the country as citizens or permanent residents, or are here with a valid visa, which means we don’t have to worry too much about being deported for literally just breathing the air in the United States. Maybe you even developed some kind of psychological coping mechanism and have already accepted the fact that life is just unfair like this. But for some, the problem is far more pressing, and far harder to escape.

Earlier this week, a children’s health facility in San Antonio, TX received ten-year-old Maria Hernandez, who has cerebral palsy. She was rushed to the hospital to undergo emergency gallbladder surgery. Her mother, who lives in Laredo illegally, could not come with her past the checkpoint north of the city. She is not alone, however. Her hospital room is guarded by police from Border Patrol, waiting to deport her right after she is released from the hospital.
And her way to the hospital was not exactly smooth. Diagnosed with several kidney stones about a month ago, Hernandez’s doctor said she would need an emergency gallbladder surgery. Her ambulance was, however, stopped at the border to Texas that is located after Laredo because of the new hard-line policy put in place by the Trump administration. She was detained at the border with all other juvenile undocumented immigrants before she was sent to the hospital, accompanied by the police. She is effectively arrested and waiting to be deported at the moment, despite her disability and the fact that she is still waiting for treatment.

According to President Trump’s logic, preventing immigrants from coming into the country will solve monetary and security problems, and strengthening the border by pouring taxpayer money into expanding police forces is the only way to go. Trump’s administration not only beefed up the manpower at the southern U.S. border but also changed the priority of the deportation process.Prior to this administration, U.S. police forces focused on deporting criminals and other individuals that could pose harm to society. A lot less emphasis was placed on the undocumented immigrants who found work and a shelter in the U.S. and lived up to all the expectations and laws with the only exception of one missing document.

But now this landscape has changed. The administration gives all illegal and undocumented immigrants the same priority, meaning that anyone who stays in the United States without valid identification will be deported immediately. This policy abuses the “expedited removal,” a process put in place by earlier administrations to speed up the process of removal of criminals and avoid prison overflowing by skipping the process of going through a judge.

This abuse of expedited removal is an attempt to cut down the cost of deporting harmless civilians who most likely just want to work in the United States, but there lies an irony so glaring that it’s hard to overlook: the money, time, and manpower that go into hunting down illegal immigrants and stopping them from coming into and staying in the country is ridiculous, and could be spent on doing more productive things, such as stopping children from dying. Somehow “turning our nation into an emergency room for the rest of the world” — the words of George Rodriguez, a conservative politician — is worse than blowing piles of cash to make sure that a disabled girl is detained and will get deported at the end of her treatment, arresting people who are working hard and trying to make a living in the United States, and building a physical wall at the southern border of the United States, which might have been a great strategy over a thousand years ago in China to keep the Huns outside the border, but is almost certainly outdated in a world where people can just casually fly across the border by purchasing an airplane ticket. The entire “saving money” consideration seems to break down when you really look into these aspects of the policy.

The homeland security argument, which seems like a somewhat valid concern at first, is also full of irony in the execution of the policy. How exactly is the administration going to make America a safer place when they spend all their time, manpower, and money on deporting people who are not threats to society? This change may create more jobs — we will need a lot more policemen to make sure that the undocumented criminals get deported — but just keep in mind that all that money could be spent on curing the sick instead of keeping them out of the hospital.

The fact that the government implements policies like this should disturb you every time. The majority of the people who call themselves “Americans” come from somewhere else, or their ancestors are from somewhere else. You could argue that you, or your ancestors, deserve to be treated better by the government because you are a part of the reasons why this nation turns out to be successful and strong, but also keep in mind that most of these immigrants left their homeland to produce their own successes, and they are making the nation stronger. It should disturb you that the government uses the money you make to watch people who need help die right in front of their eyes. We must make lawmakers aware that we will not stand for such deprivation of human rights just because someone is not a citizen of the U.S.