Opinion | Immigration

Why don't we build a wall with Canada?

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Why aren't we talking about building a wall along the U.S.-Canada border?

That truly is an open border, there is no wall or massive fencing. Some parts of the U.S.- Canadian border are marked with petunias. Along the U.S.-Mexico border, there is already a wall or fencing for more than 700 miles.

We have more than 16,600 Border Patrol along the Southwest border sector and only 2,000 along the Northern border sector, according to 2017 Border Patrol data. We only have 200 agents stationed along the coasts.

There are so many Canadians among us. Many of them are famous actors such as Michael J. Fox, Ryan Reynolds, Sandra Oh, Ellen Page, Rachel McAdams and Donald and Kiefer Sutherland, who both have portrayed U.S. presidents. And we have Canadian journalists who have worked in the U.S. too, including Peter Jennings formerly of ABC, John Roberts of Fox, and Ashleigh Banfield and Ali Velshi of both of CNN.

But we don't talk about a wall with Canada because we aren't afraid of Canadians. We shouldn't be afraid of them. And we shouldn't be afraid of Mexicans or Central Americans either.

Trump in declaring a national border emergency Friday has officially demonized Mexicans and Central Americans. He wants us to be afraid of immigrants from Mexico and Central America.

Let's be honest here. There is no crisis at either border.

The numbers of people apprehended at the Southern Border is at a record low, according to Border Patrol data. For fiscal 2017 there were more than 300,000 people apprehended compared to a high of 1.6 million in 2000 when President Clinton, a Democrat, was president. Clinton did not declare an emergency at the border that year when five times as many immigrants were detained under his administration.

Also, the number of Mexicans living in the U.S. without legal status has decreased by more than a million people since 2007, according to Pew Research.

What this really is a culture war. Trump is instilling fear of Mexicans and Central Americans, blaming them for an "invasion" of crime and drugs coming across the border.

He began his campaign by saying that Mexicans are bringing drugs and are rapists. And this fear-mongering of Mexico is symbolized in this faux national emergency for a wall.

Just ask the people of El Paso, even the Republican mayor, who criticized Trump's false portrayals of crime in their city.

Yes, it is true some undocumented immigrants have committed crimes and even murders. But overall undocumented immigration does not increase violent crimes, research shows.

Politifact analysis found that more people die a year from food illnesses than at the hands of undocumented immigrants.

And more people are killed in mass shootings and everyday gun violence than at the hands of undocumented immigrants. Gun violence claimed more lives than ever in 2017, almost 40,000 people, according to the CDC.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) suggested the next Democratic president could declare a gun violence emergency. If Trump worked on gun control, he could work to solve the most serious crime threat in the U.S.

But that is not what this is about. He's convinced his base that a wall is the solution and that Mexicans are the enemy.

So he's going to try and build a "better" wall or new sections of wall to add to what has been there for years. But what happens when it doesn't work?

It won't work because an estimated 40 percent of the people who are undocumented came to the U.S. legally and then overstayed their visas, according to Politifact. Also, most drugs also come in via a port of entry such as a truck or a ship and not via an "open border."

And let's not forget about tunnels and ladders.

Declaring a national emergency and building a wall won't solve anything.

Teresa Puente teaches journalism at Cal State Long Beach and is a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project.