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Trump issues executive order to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico

By Masao Suzuki |
January 25, 2017
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Los Angeles May Day march demands legalization for all.
Los Angeles May Day march demands legalization for all. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

San José, CA - On Jan. 25, President Trump signed an executive order ordering the construction of a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, an increase in the number of Border Patrol staffing, and stepping up federal immigration authorities’ use of local police. This is the first executive order on immigration by Trump, to be followed by others in the near future.

Trump’s executive order started with racist myths that undocumented immigrants from Mexico are a major source of crime and terrorist acts. In fact, immigrants to the U.S., including Mexicans, are jailed at a rate one-fifth that of native-born Americans.

The executive order then goes on to order to begin planning and construction on a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. This wall will cost up to $20 billion and will need the Congress and Senate to allocate funds to build it. Trump has promised to make Mexico pay for the wall and part of the executive order is to report on U.S. foreign aid to Mexico. But even if the U.S. ended all aid to Mexico, it would take about 50 years to make up the cost of the wall. Furthermore, much if not most of the U.S. aid to Mexico is for anti-drug, anti-terror and military assistance which Trump claims to be concerned about.

Another part of the executive order is to add thousands of Border Patrol agents. The executive order also revives the so-called Secure Communities or 287(g) program to have state and local authorities cooperate with ICE and other federal immigration agents. It also calls for expansion of immigration detention facilities along the border.

The construction of a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and increasing the number of Border Patrol agents has been part of bipartisan effort dating back to the 1996 “Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act” which was passed under the administration of former President Bill Clinton. Expanding the border wall and increasing immigration enforcement staffing was part of the “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” (CIR) bills from 2005, 2006,and 2007 supported by both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate.

The fact is that starting the construction of wall between the U.S. and Mexico in 1996 and increasing border security did not slow undocumented immigration from Mexico, which more than doubled between 1995 and the peak in 2007. Undocumented immigration from Mexico increased faster than undocumented immigration from other countries during this period.

Trump is expected to issue other orders restricting refugees, repealing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), targeting Muslims, and attacking sanctuary cities. His executive action on Jan. 25 was just his opening shot in his anti-Mexican, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim policies. Immigrant rights activists need to organize to build a broad grassroots movement in support of the undocumented and Muslims and to oppose Trumps racist and xenophobic agenda.