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Are border walls immoral and ineffective?

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From the pages of In Business magazine.

Welcome to "Political Posturing," featuring opposing views on current issues important to Wisconsin's business community. In this column, small business owner Brad Werntz and manufacturing manager Steve Witherspoon offer their opinions from the left and the right, respectively.

Yes, and if history is a guide, very ineffective.

By Brad Werntz

Are walls effective? This is a hard one, so let’s ask a self-appointed expert: “Walls work!” the president says. So, I guess this must be so.

Strange that history doesn’t agree. Case in point: The Berlin Wall, the Maginot Line, the Great Wall of China. None of them did what they were supposed to and none stood the test of time. History proves that when faced with a wall, people will tunnel under, climb over, walk around, fly over, take a boat around, bribe a guard, and just generally ignore it if they have to. Walls stop no one, ever.

Why do we need a wall? The president points to an “immigration crisis,” but both legal and illegal immigration are at record lows. The president likes to point to caravans laying siege to the southern border as if this happens every day, but these events are primarily organized as protests. In fact, 58 percent of illegal immigrants come to our country legally — through normal points of entry — and then stay past their visas. Walls don’t do much about this.

But as a symbol of division, walls are powerful, a great way to alienate the “other.” When bad things happen to an “other,” we as a society can look away. And this is why walls are immoral.

As I write, young women are fleeing systemic sexual violence. As I write, young men are running away from being conscripted into street violence. As I write, families are escaping really bad situations, existential threats the likes of which most Americans can’t comprehend.

As I write, children are still being held in camps where thousands have reported physical and sexual abuse. As I write, children who were separated at the border from their parents are living in adoptive homes. Some children were handed over to sex traffickers. Why was this done? Cruelty, plain and simple. The president wanted to send a message: “Don’t come here. Look what we’ll do to your kids.”

This is not our country. This is not who we are. This wall — like the president himself — is both immoral and ineffective.

Brad Werntz is a small business owner in Madison.

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