By: Nathan Traini
NEW KENSINGTON, Pa.- Students and teachers at Penn State New Kensington conveyed their thoughts on the border wall and the ban on immigrants from seven majority Muslim countries.
The Trump administration has enacted several executive orders and general policies, some of which the public is calling into question.
One of the major policies is the beefing up of America’s border with a wall. Questions as to whether or not the wall would prevent enough illegal immigration to justify the cost of the wall is a concern shared by teachers and students of all political affiliations. When asked if a border wall would be the most effective way to stop illegal immigration there was agreement across the political spectrum and age range from students to teachers.
“No, I think it is the least effective way to stop illegal immigrants,” said John Craig Hammond Ph.D, Associate Professor of History at PSNK who, when asked, labeled himself as an independent. “Look at research, look at evidence, look at data, most people who are illegal immigrants…do not cross the border… most overstay their visas,” said Hammond. He went on to say that the border wall is “an incredibly expensive and an incredibly ineffective way at reducing the number of illegal aliens in the United States.”
The wall would stop some illegal immigration but the methods of circumventing this deterrent abound as one conservative student pointed out. “More than likely, they’ll just get a boat and go around it through the oceans, or continue to use the tunnels underground.” said a conservative student at PSNK wishing to be referred to as B.B.. “A wall may decrease it a bit, but the costs to the taxpayers outweighs the benefits.”
The method of paying for the border wall has been, since late January of this year, touted as a tax on imports from Mexico. “The recent proposal to pay for the wall through a tax or tariff on imports from Mexico would drive up costs of those goods to consumers in the US, so the $13 Billion dollar cost of the wall would be paid by the consumers in the U.S., not Mexico” said Dr. Donald Bruckner an Associate Professor of Arts and Humanities who considers himself “more liberal than the average American” but “considerably more conservative than the average academic.”
With regards to what a border wall’s image would project to Mexico and the world in relation to quelling the tensions between U.S. and Mexican citizens is questionable. “If you put up a wall it will only create hostility,” said Ben Sarkozi, a student who finds himself on the liberal side of issues more often than not.
The other issue that the Trump administration has caught some resistance for is the ban of immigrants from seven majority Muslim countries which include Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. That ban has been on hold for the better part of February and, according to CBS, the Trump administration has started drafting a new ban that keeps the countries the same but doesn’t affect green card holders. The difference between a green card and a visa is a green card allows someone to stay as long as they like as U.S. Permanent Residents, and a visa has a limit on how long a person can stay in the U.S.
A student who’s a citizen of Sudan, Ahmed Osman Abobaker, lives in Saudi Arabia and attends PSNK has a unique perspective on this issue. Being a citizen of Sudan and the fact that even visa holders, which he is, have been barred from travel to and from the U.S. puts him in a difficult position.
“At the moment…we agreed that I’m gonna stay in the United States until I finish my studies because even if they remove the ban and I went back home it’s gonna stay hard for me to be back here,” said Abobaker. Even if they removed the ban “still it’s going to be hard for Sudanese to enter the United States,” added Abobaker.
When asked about the idea of the ban as a whole, Abobaker said, “Let’s say that all of these seven countries had terrorists, they killed Americans. Okay? Lets say that. Even if this happened, I don’t think that you should judge a whole country for the actions of like one percent to 10 percent of them. That’s not fair. For example if you killed someone in my family I’m not gonna sue all of your family, I will only sue you.”
From a legal standpoint, in talking about the ban on people from the seven countries, “Some of them are refugees and it apparently is contrary to the Geneva Convention not to accept refugees of war,” said Bruckner.
“If the tables were turned we all would want a chance to go to a safe place and would want to seek safety,” said Sarkozi, touching on what he thinks of the ban.
With reference to who is actually behind the ban, “I don’t think Donald Trump has much of anything to do with this,” said Hammond. “The Muslim ban seems to be pretty clearly initiating from Steve Bannon and Steven Miller, and Steve Bannon has made it pretty clear in his writings and pretty clear in his actions that he is spoiling for a war between civilizations,” he added.
Contrary to those statements, “I believe that he is just trying to protect the country from what knowledge he is given by the government,” said B.B. “It’s possible there’s highly restricted knowledge that even the public many not be aware of for safety reasons,” added B.B.