And what that means for US-Canada relations
By Tania Arora, Staff Reporter
It’s been a month since the US government was shut down, and it still appears that Republicans and Democrats have yet to reach a consensus about the Mexico-US border.
In December of 2018, the US government shut down due to the president’s and lawmakers’ failure to come up with an agreement to fund parts of government, including the proposed border wall. President Donald Trump had been looking for a way to prevent undocumented asylum seekers from reaching the US. This has so far been the longest US government shutdown in history.
According to US Customs and Border Protection’s data, “In November, 51,856 people were apprehended between ports of entry on the Southwest Border, compared with 51,001 in the month of October. In [the fiscal year of 2018], a total of 396,579 individuals were apprehended between ports of entry on our Southwest Border.”
The administration requested funds amounting to $5.7 billion in order to construct a 234-mile barrier on the southern border. Trump’s government demanded $675 million to come up with systems and fund manpower that would supposedly detect and stop arms, weapons, narcotics, and other illegal items from entering the country. Other requested resources amounted to billions of dollars to hire additional Border Patrol agents, ICE personnel, immigration judges, detention beds, support staff, and transportation.
“Now is the time—this is the moment—to finally secure the border and create the lawful and safe immigration system Americans, and those wanting to become Americans, deserve,” said Trump in a national address on January 8.
The wall has been criticized for being an expensive and unreliable endeavour to keep people out of the US. Some naturalists have even warned that it would interrupt migration patterns for many animals that travel between the US and Mexico. Moreover, Trump has been criticized for depicting all asylum seekers as dangerous when in reality, many families bring their young children across the border while fleeing violence.
According to the Trump administration, more than 2,000 “inadmissible” immigrants arrive at the border every day. More than 800,000 cases are pending in courts. Many individuals have been arrested, charged, and imprisoned, making it difficult for undocumented immigrants to obtain citizenship.
It should be noted that it is currently not illegal for migrants to cross borders with the intent of seeking asylum—in fact, asylum seekers can only apply for asylum once they are in the country they intend to seek asylum from.
Sarabjeet Kaur Gill, an international student studying Finance at Douglas College, said in an interview with the Other Press, “What is even Trump trying to get out of this? We already have so many borders separating the nations […] Next we hear will be Trump planning to build a border with Canada. This is inhumane.”
Some speculate that the border wall will only change the way that undocumented immigrants enter the US, which could impact Canada. People may choose to fly into Canada and then go across the Canada-US border due to its looser border restrictions. As a result, it could lead to Canada and the US having tighter borders as well.
“It’s like putting the whole country at stake to get the demands fulfilled,” said Gill. “This doesn’t seem like protecting the nation at all. He has separated more than millions of families, tagging the action as ‘protection of the country.’ He isn’t building anything. The whole process has just led to a big-time destruction, [the] effect of which will be borne for generations to come.”