A tragedy is no excuse to build Trump’s wall

August 30, 2018

President Trump wants that wall between the U.S. and Mexico. He wants it at any cost, even the expense of publicizing the recent tragic murder of Mollie Tibbetts by an illegal Mexican farm worker in Iowa.

Her cousin, Sandi Tibbetts Murphy, upset with the political firestorm over illegal immigration and the push for the wall because of Mollie’s death said, “It is not our right to exacerbate this grievous act by hijacking Mollie and all she believed with your racist fear-mongering. You do not get to use her murder to inaccurately promote your ‘permanently separated’ hyperbole. You do not have permission to callously use this tragedy to demonize an entire population for the acts of one man.”

What a wonderful person to think so rationally and kindly in her family’s time of loss. It is so clear that tragedy is no excuse to build that wall.

That wall, the big wall that Mexico will not pay for, will not solve our problems with immigration or violence in this country. Yes, there are a few prominent examples of immigrants or undocumented foreigners involved in gruesome crimes, but they pale in comparison to what we legal Americans can do to our own people.

Have we already forgotten the 58 people murdered and the 422 injured by the well-to-do Las Vegas shooter who turned a fun evening of music into a killing field? In one evening, the bump stock shooter killed more people than any collection of illegal immigrants. Have we also erased from our memory the 12 killed and 62 wounded in the Colorado movie shooting or the 25 murdered and 20 wounded in the Sutherland Texas church shooting? All done by American citizens born and bred here. And there are many more.

This isn’t to say that we should not have secure borders. We must. Every civilized nation needs such. But using this tragedy to say we must now build a multi-billion-dollar wall because it will stop all illegal immigration into our country is foolish. Besides, whether we want to admit it or not, our nation has used and will continue to use undocumented workers regularly because it makes dollars and sense.

A study by Cornell Farm-worker Program found that 30 New York State dairy farmers admitted they used undocumented workers because they couldn’t depend on American workers to do the job. A few years ago, a fruit farmer in Georgia expressed the same view. And it’s probably why the man accused of killing Mollie Tibbetts in Iowa was employed at a well-to-do family farm business.

This newspaper reported that “A top Republican fundraiser whose firm works for several prominent immigration hardliners is the partial owner of the land where the Mexican man accused of killing the Iowa college student lived...” The farm owner had reportedly verified the worker’s papers and the farm worker had been on that farm for four years. It’s interesting to see how people can actively work to keep immigrants out, but at the same time hire them to do jobs that Americans will not do. The Pew Research Center reports that the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that about half the farm workers and 15 percent of construction workers in this country are unauthorized.

America’s immigration Catch-22 needs to be fixed rationally. A wall between the U.S. and Mexico will not solve the problem, especially since our economy depends on millions of undocumented workers. But to publicize the tragedy of Mollie Tibbetts to push for a wall is wrong. Listen to her grieving family.

Diane W. Mufson is a retired psychologist. Her email is dwmufson@comcast.net

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