Are border walls immoral and ineffective?

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.



No, border walls are no more immoral than doors on your house.

By Steve Witherspoon

Border walls are no more immoral or ineffective than the walls and locked doors in your home, and they are a necessity. The phrase “immoral and ineffective,” made famous by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is the worst kind of political posturing. It’s a lie used as emotional propaganda, it’s unethical, and it’s morally bankrupt to use that phrase in conjunction with a discussion about a border wall.

It’s the responsibility of the U.S. government to maintain the physical security of the United States, and that includes the security and control of our entire international border. The responsibility includes putting in place physical and non physical barriers to impede anyone attempting to cross our international borders and to apprehend, prosecute, and deport those that illegally cross our international borders using all available legal means.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service says: “Refugee status or asylum may be granted to people who have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted on account of race, religion, nationality, and/or membership in a particular social group or political opinion.”

There’s no acceptable reason for any person to illegally cross the international border of a sovereign nation unless that person is actively fleeing from an immediate, and I do mean immediate, threat of physical harm.

In addition, there’s a responsibility of the person illegally crossing any international border to immediately contact authorities within the country they illegally entered to explain why they’re there and apply for asylum if they qualify.

When a person is literally hundreds if not thousands of miles away from a perceived physical danger, or asylum-qualifying persecution, the person is no longer fleeing from an immediate threat of physical harm.

Thus, saying they have the right to illegally cross the border is false and an unethical rationalization. The political left has picked the wrong hill to die on.

Any person that illegally crosses an international border should be disqualified from staying in that country unless they can prove that they were fleeing imminent physical harm.

If not, deport them.

Steve Witherspoon works in manufacturing management in Oregon, Wisconsin.​

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