Do we need a wall? Here’s what people on the border think.

On Christmas, 8-year-old Felipe Alonzo-Gomez died while in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Mr. Alonzo-Gomez, who had traveled from Guatemala before he was detained along with his father, is the second child to die in the custody of border patrol this month.

Advertisement

The federal government is six days into a partial shutdown. President Donald Trump has said he will veto any funding bill that does not include $5 billion for a border wall.

While the Trump administration has said the wall is necessary to curb illegal immigration and drug trafficking, many faith leaders who live along the border see things differently.

“The idea of a wall is absurd,” said the Rev. Julio López, the director of Casa del Migrante in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. “The Berlin wall fell, why are we thinking about more walls?”

Father López echoed a comment Pope Francis made as he returned from his pastoral visit to Mexico. When asked about the border wall, he said, “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges is not Christian. This is not the Gospel.”

“We have to build bridges, bridges of humanity before walls,” Father López said. “Barriers already exist, be they cultural barriers or socio-political barriers that often separate us. Many times they are instruments of discrimination. So with all that, why do we need more barriers?”

“The idea of a wall is absurd,” said the Rev. Julio López, the director of Casa del Migrante in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. “The Berlin wall fell, why are we thinking about more walls?”

Nevertheless, Benjamin de la Garza, the executive director of Catholic Charities in Laredo, Tex., recognized the need for border security. Catholic Charities and other faith-based organizations work with immigration enforcement to care for newly arrived asylum seekers.

“We want to prevent drugs and we do want to prevent all the illegal activity that goes on across the border and across the river,” he said.

In Laredo, detention centers are full and there are too few immigration judges, Mr. de la Garza said. While immigrants and asylum seekers wait for the cases to be decided, Catholic Charities and other groups step in to help.

The Holding Institute, a United Methodist outreach in Laredo, provides shelter to those in need, including immigrants and asylum seekers. Pastor Mike Smith, who directs the center, said he is often criticized for his outreach. They are the only shelter in Laredo that accepts families with children.

“I have a lot of people ask me, ‘Why are you doing this? You shouldn’t be doing this. It’s unethical. It’s illegal. It’s immoral,’” he said. “I say, ‘Look, I cannot in good conscience allow myself to have children or mothers with children or fathers with children sleeping in the streets. It’s unconscionable.’”

The immigration issue, including this federal budget impasse, can be a complicated subject, but Pastor Smith said the Christian response can be simple.

“God’s will for us is to serve others—love your neighbor as yourself,” he said. “Our neighbor’s face is changing daily. I believe that it is our responsibility to serve our neighbor first. You can ask all the questions you want later. But our responsibility is to meet them at their point of need, which could very well be through a simple act of kindness.”

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Todd Witherell
2 months 3 weeks ago

This is Radio Nowhere

Now more guns than people
In these United States

The demos don’t read books
The President just hates

Foreign wars abroad
Border walls not gates

Hubris, noticed the Greeks,
Unwisely tempts the Hand of Fate.

Jim MacGregor
2 months 3 weeks ago

I am enjoying this read but am not finished enough to comment broadly. A few things stand out by their presence or omission.
The Berlin Wall had a purpose different from the Trump wall. The Berlin Wall was erected to keep people inside East Berlin - not out. Ditto the inner German wall

We do not need more immigration judges. We need fewer of any bureaucrats.

If we really needed a wall, and were truly serious about having one, then it should be reinforced by land mines, dogs, and machine guns. ( Barf!)

I’ll keep reading

Joe Trainor
2 months 3 weeks ago

Give us a break! You quote a person who is ignorant of history in order to advance an agenda based upon ignorance, emotion, flawed logic and lies.

First, the lies are that there aren't bad people and terrorists among the migrants, that the caravans consist of mainly families with women and children, and that they are seeking asylum to which they are legally entitled. Those assertions by liberals and mainstream media have been proven to be either false or grossly exaggerated, but the agenda pushers for a border-free society ignore that and especially the fact many are migrating not for asylum but for jobs. Immigration laws would need to be broken by Immigration officials themselves in order to allow migrants to come in without proper vetting.

Second, the Berlin Wall fell because its primary purpose was to keep people inside. Had they been given the opportunity, millions of people would have left the miserable conditions behind the Iron Curtain. Proof of this is seen in the numbers of performers and athletes who actually did defect while abroad on Visas, and especially in those who risked everything by sneaking through the check points. Getting caught meant death or imprisonment.

Third, people need to wake up about the effects of social programs and the necessitated increase in entitlements that open borders would entail. Socialism requires money, money and more money which a government obtains by taxing, taxing and taxing again in its stated efforts to provide so much for everyone. When a government and the individuals that it taxes run out of money, the government nationalizes a country's largest industries and greatest natural resources. Jobs dry up because business people will not invest; and small businesses fail due to government instituted price controls instituted under the guise of fairness. Goods and services disappear because the few people remaining in the dwindling labor pool drop out of the workforce when they finally come to the realization that success is punished and failure is rewarded.

Socialism inevitably leads to some form of totalitarian government that must control the disillusioned and miserable masses of people who will attempt to leave or overthrow their oppressive government. It is sad indeed that people and children have died in their attempts to migrate and find a better life in the US. Many people in the caravans are already carrying diseases or became sick and died during the long arduous journey. Everyone is saddened by loss of life. We can mourn that loss. But that doesn't make the U. S. responsible for it. Are we to be held responsible for all those who embark on a journey of nearly 2000 miles with little more than the clothes on their backs?

If the United States is responsible for all humanitarian crises created by other entities, then the next step in the liberal and logic-free mind would be to send caravans of planes to rescue the millions of people who would like to come to the US from Central America and parts of South America. Then we would need to go to the Middle East and pick up everyone who wants to get out of there. And because Europe can no longer handle the crises that it got itself into with an open door policy on migration, we would need to rescue everyone there too.

The American dream has just about vanished. Yet, somehow, the U.S., in the logic-free mind-set, is to become utopia. Soon, the only reason to immigrate to the US will not be for opportunity but for free stuff. Unfortunately, average Americans are already spent financially, and our own elderly citizens and veterans who deserve much better treatment are not being cared for properly. (I'm not a veteran, but I highly value the sacrifices and service of others in defense of our nation.)

Many good people who speak English and have skills by which they can contribute to society and support themselves in gainful employment would like to immigrate legally to the US; and they are already in line in the system. To ignore them in favor of those who have no skills to support themselves will work to the further detriment of our once great nation. Furthermore, if we continue responding solely on emotion and partial truth to each and every crisis caused by outside entities, eventually the US really will have a wall. And it will be a wall that nobody likes--a wall built by a government that, by its very nature, becomes malevolent towards all the people that it must control inside the country.

A government that tries to provide everything that people need only destroys the nation that it is supposed to protect. Its efforts can only accomplish the financial equalization of people by taking away from those who have and giving it to those who lack. Even then, a government runs out of revenue to sustain everyone, and exhausts nations from whom to borrow, and runs out of citizen resources to take. It will then try to appease people with free bread to ease their hunger as well drugs to help them forget about their plight. But the things that government ought to provide are security from foreign control and invasion, and an atmosphere in which individuals are rewarded for hard work instead of being punished for their success by draconian laws and high taxes that are necessarily demanded by a socialist society. Many people either don't get it or don't want to admit it, but attempting to provide everyone with everything, or even something, only creates another hell-hole like the ones that migrants are trying to escape.

It has been demonstrated through open migration in Europe that welcoming all migrants has hurt society in general. The existing citizens have been effected detrimentally with higher taxes and poorer quality of life and in many areas they experience justified fear for life and limb. Sadly, they are no longer free to live or visit places as previously. While the immigrants have received entitlements, even after a decade, many still lack the skills to support themselves and their large families.

The solution to the migration crisis is not easy because many people still want into the country, and many have already invaded it. Clearly, opening the borders would result in total disaster. Our existing laws were put in place for valid reasons; and Europe is a good example of what happens when borders are erased and vetting is lax. Certainly, our immigration process might be improved. However, there is already a huge backlog of cases. Nonetheless, borders, walls and a fair vetting process are needed by any nation that wants to be a land of opportunity and place of peaceful living and true freedom.

Jim MacGregor
2 months 3 weeks ago

Thank you for a well thought out comment.

Jim MacGregor
2 months 3 weeks ago

Thank you for a well thought out comment.

J Cosgrove
2 months 3 weeks ago

Don't expect truth and logic here. The articles on America are based primary on emotion. Too much of what people advocate here is based on unsubstantiated feelings.

Edwin Hess
2 months 3 weeks ago

On the east and west coasts we have a “wall” of water and air, and people who come here are required to follow a legal process when they enter through the “gates” called ports – both sea and air. The system seems to work fairly well. Why should the land border be any different? People from South and Central America also come here via these means and follow the same laws. Again, why must our land border be treated differently?

J Cosgrove
2 months 3 weeks ago

Every Democratic Senator voted for a barrier (wall/fence) at the southern border just a few years ago (2013). They also voted for it in 2006. Then Trump wanted it and now every Democratic senator does not want what they voted for twice a short time ago. This is a definition/example of something.

Judith Jordan
2 months 3 weeks ago

J Cosgrove---
What the Democratic Senators voted for in the prior years was nothing like Trump’s wall proposal. It was a fence that did not even cover the entire border.

The Dems, the Republicans, and Trump made a deal on the wall recently. Then the right-wing kooks went after Trump and he broke the deal and shut down the government. Trump lies all the time. Why should the Dems trust him now after he broke the previous agreement? The Republicans don’t trust him either.

Democrats want border security, but Trump’s proposal does not do that. You can dig under a wall, use explosions through a wall, and go over a wall. Drug smugglers were putting a ramp over a wall and driving over it into the U. S. The future acting White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, is on a 2015 video saying the border wall is “absurd and almost childish.”

Trump wants to use a 19th century resolution for a 21st century problem. There are all kinds of high technology that are much more efficient and effective for border security than a wall. Trump has such a lack of knowledge about almost everything and refuses to listen to experts that once again he does not know what he is doing.

Besides, Trump said Mexico would pay for the wall. Where is the money? Another Trump lie.

J Cosgrove
2 months 3 weeks ago

There are some disingenuous statements here First "Where is the money?" Trump wants 2/10 cents of every dollar in the budget go to the barrier. Easily done. Second "What the Democratic Senators voted for in the prior years was nothing like Trump’s wall proposal." Almost identical. Third "Democrats want border security" Where is their proposal? Fourth "There are all kinds of high technology that are much more efficient and effective for border security than a wall" There are example all over the world where barriers work. They are mostly working in Tijuana. Is Trump arguing against additional protections? Where is that?

Terry Kane
2 months 2 weeks ago

Trump never said the wall would extend across the entire border. He has repeatedly said there were places where a wall is unnecessary. He has also said there were many ways that Mexico will pay: a % of remittances for example. He never said they'd pay for the wall up front, but they will pay.
Walls certainly work - just ask the POPE, he has a 60+ foot high wall around his country! The Vatican doesn't have illegal aliens invading it.
Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Poland and a number of other nations have a wall; they all seem to work.
Why does Nancy Pelosi claim walls are immoral? Does she think the Vatican and the countries named above are immoral?

Rachel Ouellette
2 months 2 weeks ago

Judith, you are adding a lot to this discussion by making it clear why a wall is not the answer. I feel for the people coming to this country for work. Many make it sound as if the IS is an innocent party in this problem. These people would not be coming here if they could not get work. If people who hire them were sufficiently penalized, they would stop hiring them. We all benefit from their labor. Our food is cheaper, going out eat is cheaper, and home workers, lawn care companies, dairy farms, hotel staffs etc. provide cheaper services for us. I think we forget how we benefit from their labor. American workers would do this work but would have to be paid a lot more than they are now. Everybody knows they’re everywhere. NSA should be rating restaurant kitchens etc. but arrest the company not these poor people. We hare the righteous complaint “ They’ve broke the law!” Yes and everyone who hires them does too. The US is famous for demonizing poor people while benefiting from their labor.

Rachel Ouellette
2 months 2 weeks ago

Raiding not rating. Also probably more errors didn’t proofread.

Mike Macrie
2 months 3 weeks ago

We already have a Wall called an IDNumber and Social Security Number. The Government knows every false Social Security Number being used and the Employers who accept them. Why doesn’t the government arrest the Employers and deport the Illegals ? Because both Republican Employers and Democratic Employers use them to run their businesses. In other words a Wall built on illegal use of ID and Social Security Numbers is a Wall too high and too far for both parties to accept. A Physical Wall is not going to prevent people who come here on green cards to pick Produce from slipping away into the Population. Europeans who come here for summer jobs many of them end up staying and never go back. The Wall will be a white elephant in the end paid for at the expense of needed Infrastructure.

Judith Jordan
2 months 3 weeks ago

Mike Macrie---
I agree with you. According to the Pew Research Center, the border crossings with Mexico have been at a net loss starting in 2014. There is more of an outflow of undocumented workers from America back to Mexico. The majority of illegals today are people who fly here from other countries with a green card and then stay here when the card expires.

J Cosgrove
2 months 3 weeks ago

So both of you are arguing that the government should go after both these types of illegal residents. I agree and I bet if it came to a national debate most of the country would also agree. So both of you should go after America, the magazine, authors who don't support this position. I bet you get lots of support from commenters here.

Rachel Ouellette
2 months 2 weeks ago

J, I don’t know why you subscribe to these magazine. You disagree with almost everything that is written here.

Rachel Ouellette
2 months 2 weeks ago

This, not these. Did it again.

Stanley Kopacz
2 months 3 weeks ago

Arrest employers who employ undocumented. Confiscate their property. Use the money to pay for the useless wall. That way it's not my money being wasted. Besides, I thought Mexico was paying for it, said the con man.

J Cosgrove
2 months 3 weeks ago

A couple good ideas here. Not for arresting or confiscating property but definitely stiff fines.

There was a proposal in which Mexico would willingly pay for the wall. Put up solar panels all along Mexico side of border and then buy the electricity from them and 10% of fee would go for the wall. A win-win. Except no future Democratic voters.

Rachel Ouellette
2 months 2 weeks ago

Stanley, my point exactly.

Rachel Ouellette
2 months 2 weeks ago

Mike, should have read your comment before commenting. They don’t have this problem in Canada. You have to have a ID card of some sort, you can’t get work without it. Guess somehow can’t be faked.

Phillip Stone
2 months 3 weeks ago

If you ask the prison guards and the citizens living in homes around the prison what they think of incarceration, whatever majority and minority opinion garnered would have no bearing on the national culture of punishment for crime. The walls are there for a purpose and are quite long established whatever the imagined motive or utility be it reform, penitence, rehabilitation or quarantine from poisoning decent society.

Why would the same process applied to a land border be any more relevant?

Charles Erlinger
2 months 3 weeks ago

The charitable organizations operating on both sides of the border, whose personnel are offering all of the help that they can to the migrants, are doing exactly the right thing according to our Christian principles. They should be supported in every way that we can think of within our individual capabilities. Just because the overall problem is geopolitical in scope and scale, we individual Christians, I am persuaded, are obligated to respond with mercy and charity to the individual needs of those suffering regardless of our views of the problem’s causes.

Rachel Ouellette
2 months 2 weeks ago

Totally agree.

sana deel
2 months 2 weeks ago

We are Top Escorts Agency in Karachi, We have Vip Escorts in Karachi. Our Famous Karachi Call Girls are Most Sexy and Stylish Girls, Student Call Girls
https://karachicalgirlsescorts.com/

Terry Kane
2 months 2 weeks ago

Is this title a joke? "Here’s what people on the border think" implies that the reader would learn what opinionS (plural) are held by those who live near the border. However, the only view expressed was that there should be no border.
This is dishonest.
This is not worthy of a church named Church of the Sacred Heart, more like Church of the Bleeding Heart!
Sad

Todd Witherell
2 months 2 weeks ago

2019 (and the Border Wall’s obscene)

Alas, across the lost American scene
Karma now Queen
Can you see what I mean?
2019

Antony P.
2 months 2 weeks ago

People who want to immigrate into the US by crossing the US-Mexican border illegaly are, simply, selfish. While they demand that they should be allowed to immigrate, they do not care that there are millions and millions of people who would like to emigrate to the US as well, but they cannot do so, because they are separated by oceans, and don’t have the privilege to live on the other side of a poorly protected border.

If the US is to accept migrants, shouldn’t they all have an equal chance? Is it really justice to bravely campaign for the good of fello Latinos, and not to care about anyone else’s? I doubt it!

R Farrell
2 months 2 weeks ago

J.D. - This article is bias and on point with all your articles on this subject matter.

Are you telling me you couldn’t find one person on the border who supports a wall to add to your interview?

If you value your end point, that our responsibility is to meet them at their point of need, then you and the groups that you support are failing. The title of your article should be, America Reports: How Do Make These Lost Souls Homes Safe

Have you seeked to critize our Church in Latin America to quit being a victim and start challenging people to seek change. Jesus never left Palestine to find a safer home, he faced his trials head on. The Church in the US is encouraging people to run from their challenges to make things better and to just give up. The end result will be empty pews in our Latin American Churches.

Todd Witherell
2 months 2 weeks ago

Walls and Wheels

You have Walls and you have Wheels
The Dharma spins
Karmic justice deals
The immature poet borrows but
The mature poet steals
Let the hero, born of Woman,
Crush the serpent with his heel!

Rachel Ouellette
2 months 2 weeks ago

Todd, he he he.

Advertisement

The latest from america

The attorney general of West Virginia has brought a civil suit against the Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and its former bishop, Bishop Michael J. Bransfield.
In this episode, we will share the story of Marie Collins, an Irish survivor who became an advocate for victims of sexual abuse and served on the pontifical commission for the Protection of minors at the Vatican.
Deliver UsMarch 19, 2019
Mourners hug on March 18 after visiting the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, the site of a terrorist attack last Friday. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
First, reach out to your neighbors and local mosque to show concern and compassion. Then call out those in your life who dehumanize others.
Saadia AhmadMarch 19, 2019
This undated photograph shows a close-up of the table where executions are carried out by lethal injection at San Quentin State Prison in California. (CNS photo/courtesy of California Department of Corrections)
Everything about the death penalty system seemed to be designed to deny hope. 
George WilliamsMarch 19, 2019