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I don't understand why this is such a big deal. Many countries around the world have a hard border with a physical barrier in place to stop illegal crossing/smuggling. It doesn't seem inherently unreasonable that the US has one as well, especially given the border with Mexico is well known for illegal crossing and drug smuggling.

Why is this seemingly normal function of government seen as such a contentious issue that it's worth shutting down the government for, and what do the Democrats have to gain politically from the continued illegal activity on the border? Surely Democrats are equally affected by the criminal behaviour as well(?).

They could make a deal and get something that would make a real material difference to the electorate, and I don't see why they're going to the mat for this.

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    Comments deleted. Comments should be used to provide constructive criticism to the question or to add relevant meta-information. They are not for answering the question or for debating the subject matter of the question. – Philipp Jan 13 at 0:35
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    Many countries have a hard border? I think you need to provide some examples, I know only of china's wall. - And the romanian border. However they're all criticesed, with the US in the past being the strongest opponent of a wall splitting countries (berlin wall, famous "ich bin ein berliner" speech was against the idea of building walls). – paul23 Jan 14 at 17:21
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    @yannis That list contains less than 40 barriers for a grand total of 20,000 km (about 12,000 miles). There are a little less than 200 counties in the world. Based on this there are something like nearly 450 unique land borders and roughly 250,000 km of land borders. Maybe not completely uncommon, but definitely a small proportion. Most of those barriers are small. Like a few hours of biking length. – JimmyJames Jan 14 at 22:00
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    While a question about why the Wall is such a polarizing issue in the US is entirely valid, this Question contains a lot of pointed rhetoric, rather than asking the question in a neutral manner. It contains talking points about the walls being normal (they are in fact uncommon) and stating that a wall is a normal function of the government (which is not established). The question currently conveys a sense of trying to push towards a particular answer, that the US is wrong to make the Wall a contentious issue. Questions should be asked as neutrally as possible. – trlkly Jan 15 at 10:32

11 Answers 11

2

The border wall is polarizing because Donald Trump wants it, and Donald Trump is a polarizing figure.

This is a cynical answer, but I think it’s actually more accurate than the other answers, which attempt to discuss the relative merit of the border wall as a policy. The thing is, the merit of a border wall as a policy has been whatever it has been for many years, but widespread opposition to the border wall has only started since Donald Trump started talking about it.

This article shows that a number of polls going back to 2006 (when a border fence was originally authorized by Congress) showed broad support for a barrier, until Donald Trump entered the Presidential race: https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/americans-used-support-border-wall-what-changed-their-minds

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    Also perfectly explains why Obamacare was so controversial back in the day: Obama wanted it, so Republicans were against it. Few people actually had specific issues with the program. – JonathanReez 18 hours ago
  • @JonathanReez I’m not so sure, because at least there had been prior policy discussions about various other healthcare schemes and polling of them showed that the country was divided on them before the ACA was proposed. However, there are definitely other examples of this dynamic one could find that involve Obama or George W. Bush (who were both polarizing Presidents not named Trump). Pretty much any form of questionably-constitutional executive power now seems to suffer this sort of treatment. Also, attitudes toward Putin’s Russia (all three attempted some rapprochement early in their terms) – Joe 18 hours ago
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tl;dr: The wall is only an idea with lots of blanks. People on different sides of the divide fill in the blanks differently, so they end up with different conclusions.


There is still nothing more to The Wall than the idea. A concrete project to build the wall, a plan for how it would look, an estimate what it would cost, or even a clear objective that it would achieve, is not part of the discussion. Such a plan to have a discussion about simply doesn't exist.

And it gets worse. Nobody has yet clearly and fully defined the problem The Wall is supposed to solve. Right now, any attempt to dive into the facts of The Wall discussion will fail before it starts, because none of the involved politicians can enumerate the actual real life problems The Wall is supposed to solve, let alone explain how The Wall does so better than alternative options.

So how come people on different sides fill in the blanks differently? The Wall is a simple symbol, which convinces some voters because it's easy to make strong assertions, which carry some false implied statements. Let's give an example: OP's words "Many countries around the world have a hard border with a physical barrier in place to stop illegal crossing/smuggling" imply

  1. That continuous walls between countries are perfectly normal
  2. That Trump's wall can stop or significantly reduce smuggling
  3. That Trump's wall can stop or significantly reduce illegal immigration

OP's words are true, but the 3 implied statements are not.* While there are untrue or unproven implicit statements in circulation on both sides, I chose the claims implied by OP because of simplicity, and because they are particularly popular falsehoods.

The divide over the idea of the wall is magnified due to the unfortunate fact that in the US there is a very peculiar situation where one of the major news networks specializes in the intentional spread of such false and misleading information through implied statements.

All in all, a wall is a simple solution that doesn't address a complex problem, except in the minds of some of the voters. And both sides - one much more so than the other - play around the issue by avoiding any actually relevant hard facts and data, to avoid being called out by the other side.


*Disclaimer: The below shows, on request, the 3 implied falsehoods are such. It is not strictly relevant to, or part of, this answer, but it will satisfy some people's curiosity. Some people in comments assumed that the below is the answer. It isn't.

1) Only a tiny fraction of worldwide borders have walls, while the overwhelming majority or borders do not have man made barriers. You'll also notice that among the small fraction of borders that sport man made barriers, a majority seem to be borders between hostile nations such as India-Pakistan, Ukraine-Russia, and Korea-Korea.

2) Drugs already cross the US-Mexican border in places where man-made barriers exist, over, under and through the barriers. Smugglers use plenty of routes and methods that will be entirely unaffected by any new wall (catapults, smuggling through ports of entry, planes/drones, tunnels).

3) Visa overstays are completely unaffected by a physical barrier of any kind. Immigrants who want to surrender themselves to request asylum don't even need to get to the other side of the wall, they just need to find a border patrol on US soil. The remaining immigrants already need tools/vehicles and often hire experienced guides to cross the border - requiring guides to spend money on a set of very cheap and lightweight tools (ladders, ropes, blankets) is unlikely to deter them.


In addition to the above, the symbolism of the Wall plays strongly into a pre-existing political divide, as outlined in Michael Kay's answer.

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    "Until recently a wall was seen to be only a talking point, rather than a serious solution to address the underlying problem"; This is not correct. Discussions of a physical barrier along the US/Mexico border go all the way back to at least the 1980s. Long sections of fencing were constructed in the 1990s, and Congress even passed the Secure Fence Act in 2006. The only thing that's changed is that the word "wall" is now being used to describe it. – Wes Sayeed Jan 12 at 0:28
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    @WesSayeed along sections of the border, not along the entire border which parts of it are owned by parities that have treaties with the government saying that they have control of it instead of the government. – Joe W Jan 12 at 0:46
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    When you say "OPs words are true, yet they carry with them 3 implied statements, of which not a single one is true." you should add some sources proving that they are not true. – Graipher Jan 12 at 7:54
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    @Peter: To the methods of drug smuggling which render the Wall irrelevant you could add airplanes, cargo ships, purpose-build submarines en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narco-submarine and for all I know, drones. Of course most of those could be used for humans, too. And of course there's the great extent to which US drug prohibition has, by causing the growth of cartels &c, encouraged many Latin Americans to come to the US as an escape. – jamesqf Jan 12 at 19:59
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    @jamesqf those are not profitable for most human trafficking. They work for drugs because that can be sold very lucratively in the US. Human trafficking works on the principle than many people pay a relatively small amount of money. A rich person may be willing to pay something in the tens of thousands$. That works out to less than a grand per kilogram of 'goods'. A kilogram of cocaine goes for 50K wholesale. And cocaine requires much less attention (drinking, feeding, etc.) – JJJ Jan 12 at 20:10
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From your comment under the question:

You don't shut down the government over a disagreement about the cost benefit analysis of something that costs 5 billion dollars. There is obviously some deeply political/philosophical objection to the wall.

I think your comment is to the point. There is a philosophical objection. Mainly, the current administration has planned to put millions off of health care yet they plan to spend billions (5.7B$ now, but how long until more is needed?) on a wall.

Now look at that from the Democrats perspective. They can let it happen and be seen as enabling Trump. On the other hand, as they do now, they can take a stand. Obviously, taking a stand is not without disadvantages: the shutdown has many disadvantages for the public, especially public servants.

Either Trump gives in and the Democrats have a moral victory or the shutdown carries on and the pressure (on everyone) grows. Eventually, someone will give in (or new elections happen) and the electorate will choose a side.

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    I'm just looking for the answer that says that comment, +1. "seemingly normal function of government seen as such a contentious issue" because the 'leader of the free world' made it one. Why? Don't ask us why one guy did something. Especially that guy. – Mazura Jan 12 at 21:26
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    re the 5 billion part. Estimates for a full complete wall go up to 200 billion not to mention the maintenance which can that again every 10 years. – Magisch Jan 14 at 10:17
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    That's the problem democrats (or any sane individual) have with giving carte blanche to build a wall. That's like signing a blank check from your child's tuition fund and handing it to a stranger. – Mazura Jan 15 at 23:47
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It's a polarising issue because it symbolises hostility towards foreigners, which is intrinsically an emotive subject.

If you actually want to reduce illegal immigration in the most cost-effective way possible, then other methods (e.g. more careful vetting at ports and airports) probably work better; but the wall sends a visible message "not wanted here".

It thus draws out a division between people who think foreigners should be treated with as much respect and dignity as possible, and those who regard them as an intrinsic threat to the American nation.

Europe has also been building physical barriers against would-be migrants. This hasn't attracted the same level of controversy, mainly because the democratic process in Europe works rather differently.

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The problem with this wall proposal is that we already have a wall. It was built in the 1990s under President Clinton, and expanded under every President since. And the existing wall looks every bit like the Berlin/East Germany wall in sections, complete with double fencing and dog runs. Had then-candidate Trump proposed expanding this wall, it probably would have been uncontroversial. It also would have been much cheaper, but given his personality and his previous remark about "rapists. And a few good people" admitting that we already have a wall wouldn't have been very successful as a campaign promise.

As an aside, Clinton's wall actually backfired. Before the wall was built, Mexican workers usually tended to come only for a few weeks for harvest season, and then return home.

The wall made the trip much more expensive and difficult. The hope was that this would deter Mexicans (and people from points further south) from crossing into the US. Instead, it deterred them from leaving after harvest season. What used to be undocument non-immigrant workers became year-round undocumented immigrants, who then started bringing wives and children.

That fact is not very well known, though, so it's not likely a factor in why Trump's wall proposal is so polarizing.

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    Your answer is insightful, but I don't think it actually answers the question "why is the wall a divisive topic". I do think what you have could be taken in several directions to answer that part as well, and would be interested in reading that expanded answer. – Peter Jan 14 at 11:42
  • The part that I meant to directly answer the question was from "had he proposed expanding the wall it would have been uncontroversial" to "rapists. And a few good people", and the reference to the campaign promise. You are right, the rest of it is elaboration to provide context and background (and thanks for calling it insightful!) – Kevin Keane Jan 15 at 0:33
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    Re "workers usually tended to come only for a few weeks for harvest season", harvest tends to be a moveable affair. It might start with winter/early spring havest of strawberries & vegetables in California's Imperial Valley (or even in Mexico), and finish in the fall with apples, peaches, &c in Washington state (or even into Canada). Which is why the workers are MIGRANT workers. Would seem far better (since most Americans won't do this work) to simply make such workers legal. – jamesqf Jan 15 at 20:05
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    @jamesqf Keep in mind that this was 30 years ago, so making such workers legal today wouldn't change anything. That said, there are visas available for this work, but the quota is very low, and the red tape makes it difficult to use (which farmer knows a year in advance what the weather will be at harvest time?). There also was the braceros program in the 1950s and 1960s, which was also plagued by its own set of problems. That is probably one factor why people in the 1980s perceived migrant harvest workers as a problem. – Kevin Keane Jan 16 at 21:12
  • "That fact is not very well known, though" Indeed, and this answer really needs some citations. – TylerH Jan 17 at 16:27
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Here's a sampling of the arguments I've heard from people opposed to the wall. Often from people who live near the border:

  1. Walls and fences are of little value if they are not guarded. Many areas of the border have no telecommunications and are difficult to reach. Example
  2. Tunnels can go under walls.
  3. Most illegal immigrants and drugs come into the country through other means.
  4. In some areas of the border, people have ranches and other property. You first have to take their land through eminent domain and then block their access to the river. Example
  5. When heavy rains hit an area, they run to the nearest river. If you got a wall there, where's the water going? A fence might work better in such areas but debris will collect on it and cause flooding unless it is cleared. Example
  6. Wild life does not respect borders. A wall and even a fence will create ecological consequences that are hard to predict. Example
  7. Native tribes occupy lands that span the border (this is true in the north too) and a wall would divide them. Example

Much of the opposition to the wall is due to the belief that it will be costly and ineffective while creating problems. They disagree that it will be a "real material difference to the electorate", at least in the implied positive way you put it. In a nutshell they don't agree with wasting money on something they see at best as being mostly pointless and at worst highly problematic.

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    While I agree these are all practical and factual arguments against a border wall, and +1 for bringing them up, I don't agree this is the reason it's so polarizing. The US is not having a practical and factual debate right now. The wall is an emotional proxy for hopes and fears about immigration. – Schwern Jan 15 at 21:49
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    @Schwern I'm addressing this: "Why is this seemingly normal function of government seen as such a contentious issue that it's worth shutting down the government for". I believe that the idea that the debate over the wall is pro-immigration vs. anti-immigration is bullshit. There's a false narrative that if you are against the wall, you must want iimmigrants coming into the country illegally. This is nonsense. Many people are against the wall because they are against foolishly wasting resources on a symbol simply so that Trump can claim he make good on a silly campaign promise. – JimmyJames Jan 16 at 14:32
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+50

I'm not trying to go full PoMo here, but meaning is often socially constructed.

Anything can be politically polarizing if a critical mass of people perceive it to be that way. We could be talking about a waist-high barrier in someone's back yard if such a thing came to national attention and had some sort of symbolic weight.

Think about some issues that are political issues (at least in the US) that shouldn't be: climate change, voter fraud, etc. But as I've said elsewhere on this site, these things aren't just subjects for discussion but membership cards, marking people as one of us/those people we hate.

We cannot have real conversations anymore about these topics. They have been hijacked to denote tribal affiliation. Attempting to make any sort of argument on the object-level question will end in disaster. Indeed, based on the comments and downvotes, merely citing an example pointing this out has been a disaster.

The case of climate change is particularly instructive: I've repeatedly had the following conversation and it goes the same way every time:

Other Person: "I don't see why anyone would doubt the scientific consensus on climate change"

Me: "Are you a climate scientist? Hang out with any? Read any peer-reviewed literature on the topic over the last 20 years? Even just the abstract of a single paper from the last 20 years? How do you know what the scientific consensus is?"

Other Person: "You're obviously one of those science-denying Fox-watching troglodytes."

Every. Single. Time.

Now certainly, some people do in fact understand that such really is the scientific consensus. But, and this is germane to my point, most people won't even do a single google-search's level of due diligence.

The real problem is that I'm addressing the statement at the object level. What the other person is actually saying is "I'm a card-carrying member of the Republican-haters club" and when I say what I say they translate it to "I'm a Republican, come at me bro".

The problem is this is an especially crappy thing to treat this way: the future of the planet may well depend on having the correct policies around this issue. But we can't have a frank conversation about it anymore.

Illegal immigration is in the same boat (albeit not as critical to the fate of the planet), and the wall is just the rallying point for opposing forces. It could have been anything. I'd have preferred they picked something that didn't cost $5 billion, but that's another topic.

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    This doesn't quite explain why this particular issue turned out so polarising. As you say, anything can become polarising but not everything does (to this extent). So why this issue? – JJJ Jan 13 at 1:10
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    @JJJ sorry I wasn't more clear, but the point I was trying to make is that it's quasi-random. Why do some species thrive while others die out? You can say their more fit to the current environment, but that just pushes it back a step. What determines the environmental conditions? Politically this plays out as slight difference of opinion + tenuous connection to pre-existing narratives + feedback loop = something people in other countries make fun of you for. – Jared Smith Jan 13 at 20:08
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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Sam I am Jan 16 at 23:59
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The wall itself (whether effective or otherwise) is a symbol for the entire debate concerning how open America should be to immigration.

enter image description here

Large numbers of people also incorrectly believe most immigrants are here illegally, making their opinions on illegal immigration a proxy for their opinions on immigration generally enter image description here

One of the reasons for this debate is that it is very difficult for people to enter the United States legally.

  • If you are the child (over 21 years of age) of a US citizen, you are in the first preference. The wait for a US visa in this category can be six years.
  • If you are the child or spouse of a green card holder, you are in the second preference. The wait for a US visa in this category can be five to ten years.
  • If you are the married child of a US citizen, you are in third preference. The wait for a US visa in this category can be eight years.
  • If you are the sibling of a US citizen, you are in fourth preference. Several things can affect waiting times of family-sponsored green card applications.

People who think we should be more open to immigration see this and oppose steps to enforce our immigration laws because they see our immigration system's rejection of people who want to contribute to our country's success as both immoral and counterproductive, as well as a general failure for our government to enact laws to open up our immigration system more generally (indeed, evidence points towards actions that go in the exact opposite direction). They also see it as against our basic cultural values, against a potential source of economic prosperity, and against the source of some of our most impactful successes. This motivates a lot of the "sanctuary" legislation and more general opposition to the wall.

On the other side there are a few camps, those hostile to foreigners because they are essentially racist (it is perhaps educational to wonder why there is no clamoring to build a wall between the USA and Canada and secure our northern border). Then there are those hostile to foreigners because they are foreign (see Michael Kay's answer, additionally they may see competent foreign competition as a threat to their own employment or salary) and finally those that are hostile to immigrants who enter illegally because they see them as inherently law breakers (they entered "illegally", after all) and therefore automatically criminals and likely to commit more crimes (despite the general lower incidence of crime among immigrants when compared to the population at large). (Edit: I believe the arguments helpfully laid out by TheLeopard in the comments below are representative of those given by this last group) enter image description here

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    This doesn't make sense. The way to increase immigration is to make legal immigration simpler. No one is trying to do that. They are only trying to maintain illegal immigration. – jpmc26 Jan 16 at 8:50
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    Illegal aliens shouldn't be in the country, so Americans shouldn't have to suffer their crimes at all. Among nearly 4,000 first- and second-degree murder convictions, undocumented immigrants accounted for nearly 13 percent — significantly higher than their percentage of the population. Undocumented immigrants also accounted for five times the rate of convictions for money laundering and kidnapping, and were three times more likely to be convicted of drive-by shootings. washingtontimes.com/news/2018/jan/26/… – TheLeopard Jan 16 at 16:36
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    @TheLeopard So I found the study you quoted and it's worth mentioning, the author of that study, John Lott, has been caught cooking the books on his statistics in the past (detailed here under Myth One). – TemporalWolf Jan 16 at 22:36
  • I reviewed the analysis you linked and the author states that Lott used an inadequate data set and statistical model. The author does not state that Lott made fraudulent statements or falsifications, which is what cooking the books means. The author goes on to state in Myth Two that " It is quite common, even typical, for rival studies to be published using econometric methods to reach opposite conclusions about the same issue." – TheLeopard Jan 17 at 0:31
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    NOBODY knows how many illegal aliens are in the country. There isn't even a common ground range where experts agree, unless you count +/- 20 million common ground. Thus, while all the charts and tables in this post appear to describe something; what they show is absolutely meaningless. – Dunk Jan 17 at 15:24
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The short answer is that some private citizens and elected officials think a border wall will substantially contribute to the policy objective of acting as a deterrent to illegal immigration and drug smuggling and is a sound proposed investment in U.S. national security; and other private citizens and elected officials think that a border wall will not substantially contribute to the policy objective of acting a deterrent to illegal immigration and drug smuggling and is not a sound proposed investment in U.S. national security.

The issue might presently appear to some to be particularly polarizing because it is a case of first impression and is a live controversy directly involving or affecting several nations and millions of people that has not been settled.

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    I don't think disagreement about the effectiveness of the wall is the issue. If the effectiveness of government programs costing 5 billion or more was sufficient reason to shut down government then the government would be permanently shut down. – user1450877 Jan 12 at 1:10
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    We spend $50 billion dollars a year on foreign aid with no tangible returns on investment. I agree that it's not about the $ – MolonLabe Jan 12 at 4:45
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    You could add a third group: people who think the Wall would not just be ineffective and thus a waste of money, but would be counterproductive in addressing the actual problems (to the extent that they really are problems, and not just Trump race-baiting), even if Mexico really would pay for it. – jamesqf Jan 12 at 20:03
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    @jamesqf: And a group for whom deterring unrestricted immigration is not a policy objective (not sure if you meant your third group to be that, or it is a fourth) – Ben Voigt Jan 13 at 18:21
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    @MolonLabe, I've heard that argument but how do you measure the effectiveness of sending $1B to, say, Venezuela for humanitarian purposes and a reduction of the number of people fleeing that country to the US border? The main purpose of foreign aid, it seems to me, is to stabilize another country so the residents can remain there safely. Would it be better to let them flee and have millions of people on the US border instead of thousands? – CramerTV Jan 14 at 20:43
1

They could make a deal

The problem is Trump himself. He reneges on deals, sometimes even before the "other side" has left the room. Before you can possibly make any sort of deal, both sides need to have some credibility that the other would uphold their side of a bargain. To date, Trump, as President, has not shown that he is willing to back his words and tweets with any reliability.

surely ... are equally affected by the criminal behaviour as well?

I don't agree that the border is suddenly a crisis. The majority of illegal immigrants arrive with legal visas and overstay their visa. These will not be affected by any sort of magic wall. The insistence on a wall along the border with Mexico and complete silence about a wall along the border with Canada strikes me as mendacious racism.

The Eastern Bloc portrayed the Wall as protecting its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the "will of the people" in building a socialist state in East Germany.

GDR authorities officially referred to the Berlin Wall as the Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart

When East Germany built the Berlin Wall, they claimed that it was to protect DDR from "fascists" sneaking over the border sabotaging East Germany. In fact, it was built to keep East Germans from escaping. That so much effort has been devoted to the current "emergency", along to so many lies, tells me that the real reason for the wall is not to keep Mexicans out, but Americans in. I see no reason to assist Trump in building a Tortilla Curtain.

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The reason why this normal function of government is contentious and the question of what Democrats have to gain politically from the continued illegal activity on the border are intertwined.

Like I mentioned in my comment on your question, powerful political interests in the United States, both Democrat and non-Democrat, have much to gain from lax border control and lax immigration enforcement, and the Trump administration is threatening to change those policies.

These powerful interests have great influence over the media, and so they've made the issue contentious in an attempt to stop the Trump administration from changing the current policies.

This article describes the biggest donors in detail, including Rupert Murdoch of Fox News, who has been pro-immigration for many years.

Keep in mind how fiercely both Democrat AND Republican politicians opposed Trump. Trump's campaign rhetoric about tighter immigration enforcement directly threatened policies beneficial to the interests supporting both Democrat and Republican establishment politicians.

Industrial and financial interests gain from the cheap labor that uncontrolled immigration brings. Agricultural industries directly rely on masses of illegal immigrants for cheap labor, as do construction industries to a lesser extent. Tech industries rely on masses of legal work visa immigrants to lower labor costs.

This chart provides a good breakdown of immigrants in the labor force but does not include illegal immigrant labor, so the numbers are probably higher.

Lower labor costs increase profits, which increase stock prices. Business owners and stockholders profit from this, and they contribute to the campaign funds of politicians to keep this source of profit going.

Here's an example of powerful pro-immigration Republican donors, the Koch Brothers.

Here's an article about big donors influencing the Democratic Party on immigration and other issues.

This article discusses the hundreds of millions of dollars big donors give politicians.

What the Democratic Party gains from illegal immigration is simple: More voters, and therefore more political power.

It generally works like this: Democratic politicians promise benefits and services to immigrants that American citizens and businesses pay for through taxation. In return, the immigrants, legal and illegal, are supposed to support Democrats.

The new governor of California proposes that illegal immigrants get taxpayer-funded heathcare.

Pew research concluding that illegal immigrants overwhelmingly support Democrats.

How Democrats gain from illegal immigration.

Democrat politicians refuse to condemn the crime of illegal immigrants voting.

Most Democrats think illegal aliens should vote.

Democrat Nancy Pelosi encourages illegal immigrants to vote for Democrats.

Article about how illegal immigrant votes might elect Hillary Clinton (bear in mind that any illegal immigrant voting is against the law).

DACA illegal immigrants surge Hispanic vote and turn Republican counties to Democrat.

As for illegal activity at the border besides illegal immigration, there's rampant speculation that Democrats benefit through working relationships with criminal organizations, but so far there's nothing in the mainstream media that offers substantial evidence of this.

It is worth noting that the Democratic Party has made use of people willing to commit criminal actions in its support, as revealed in this hidden camera expose' by Project Veritas.

Foval spends five minutes discussing how voters might be brought from outside Wisconsin to commit voter fraud, buying cars with Wisconsin plates to avoid looking suspicious. “We've been busing people in to deal with you f---ing a--holes for 50 years, and we're not going to stop now,” he says.

Democratic Party deliberately incites violence at Trump rallies.

Same from Washington Times.

A key Clinton operative is captured on camera saying, "It doesn’t matter what the friggin’ legal and ethics people say, we need to win this motherfucker."

New York Times article about it.

So that's why the the Democrats, the pro-immigration Republicans, and the industrial/financial interests care so much about the issue.

Here's why American voters care about the issue and are fiercely pushing back.

Mass immigration has kept wages flat while inflation has increased, inflicting economic pain on the American public.

Today’s real average wage (that is, the wage after accounting for inflation) has about the same purchasing power it did 40 years ago. And what wage gains there have been have mostly flowed to the highest-paid tier of workers.

Middle-class wages are stagnant—Middle-wage workers’ hourly wage is up 6% since 1979, low-wage workers’ wages are down 5%, while those with very high wages saw a 41% increase

US pay/ productivity gap; Real wages for typical worker flat since 1970s

Although immigration yields a positive net gain to domestic workers, that gain is not spread equally: it harms workers who are substitutes for immigrants while benefiting workers who are complements to immigrants.

The problem is that there is mass substitution of immigrant labor for American labor at all skill levels. Employers who exploit illegal immigrant labor benefit by paying lower wages, while American workers get displaced. It's the same for legal immigrant labor paid less than American workers. Even earlier waves of immigrants are negatively affected by the next wave of immigrants increasing the labor supply and therefore lowering wages.

That's why famous Latino-American labor activist Cesar Chavez vehemently opposed illegal immigration.

Even after the economy has fully adjusted, those skill groups that received the most immigrants will still offer lower pay relative to those that received fewer immigrants.

Bernie Sanders Again Links Low Wages With Immigration

Employers Exploit Unauthorized Immigrants to Keep Wages Low

What labor market changes have generated inequality and wage suppression?

Lawsuits Claim Disney Colluded to Replace U.S. Workers With Immigrants

Disney Fires American Workers To Replace Them With Outsourced Immigrants

Immigrants Find High-Tech Servitude in Silicon Valley

Foreign labor builds U.S. auto factories.

So working-class Americans are feeling the pain of mass immigration, and if they're not feeling pain themselves, they perceive that there's a problem, and they're understandably concerned about it.

Another important issue is crime.

America has its own criminals which it has enough problems with, and many Americans and immigrants living in America are angry with the government for failing to prevent illegal immigrant criminals from entering the country and committing violent crimes against Americans.

In California, reports indicate that Mexican gangs are waging a race war against American blacks. When black people bring these concerns to their elected officials, they are ignored, the border remains uncontrolled, and California cities declare themselves sanctuary cities for illegal immigrants. This is true despite the Democratic Party routinely portraying itself as the party that supports American black people. You can imagine the bitterness and resentment felt by many in the black community about this.

Acting on orders from the Mexican Mafia, Latino gang members in Southern California are terrorizing and killing blacks.

Mexican Mafia member ordered gangs to target blacks, police say.

Feds: Latino Gang Targeted Blacks.

Attack on family in Compton latest incident in wave of anti-black violence.

Ethnic cleansing against black people in Los Angeles (video, 6:48).

American prisons are filled with illegal aliens, and Americans and even immigrants, legal and illegal, are sick of being raped, murdered, and victimized by them. American taxpayers are sick of paying for their prosecution and incarceration costs.

An FBI crime study also shows heavy illegal alien involvement in criminal activity revealed these statistics:

75 percent of those on the most wanted criminals list in Los Angeles, Phoenix and Albuquerque are illegal aliens.
One quarter of all inmates in California detention centers are Mexican nationals, as are more than 40 percent of all inmates in Arizona and 48 percent in New Mexico jails.
Over 53 percent of all investigated burglaries reported in California, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, and Texas are perpetrated by illegal aliens.
63 percent of cited drivers in Arizona have no license, no insurance and no registration for the vehicle. Of that number, 97 percent are illegal aliens. 66 percent of cited drivers in New Mexico have no license, no insurance and no registration for the vehicle. Of that 66 percent, 98 percent are illegal aliens.[15]...

http://www.cairco.org/news/illegal-alien-violence-and-crime-numbers-all-victims

and

Those 55,322 illegal aliens had been arrested 459,614 times, an average of 8.3 arrests per illegal alien, and had committed almost 700,000 criminal offenses, an average of roughly 12.7 offenses per illegal alien.

MS-13, an extremely violent transnational gang whose motto is "Murder, rape, control", recruits from illegal immigrants living the U.S. and MS-13 gang members travel across the U.S. border with ease.

The Obama administration changed the focus away from rank-and-file illegal immigrants and toward trying to make big cases, hoping to make major conspiracy cases instead.

The result was a collapse in enforcement.

“ICE officers were no longer permitted to arrest and remove foreign gang members until they had been convicted of major crimes. Gang arrests by ICE plummeted from about 4,600 in 2012 to about 1,580 in 2014,” Ms. Vaughan wrote.

She said those changes came just as the gangs were getting an influx of new members thanks to the surge of UAC that began in 2012 and was in full bloom by 2014, drawing tens of thousands of young males from Central America into the U.S. That’s the key recruiting pool for MS-13.

“According to local gang investigators, these gangs have been aggressively recruiting recently arrived Central American children as young as 10 years old,” she wrote.

MS-13 gang members gaining numbers by recruiting illegal immigrants

Crime committed by illegal immigrants goes on and on and on, and Americans and immigrants get murdered, raped, and robbed, but American politicians refuse to deal with the problem. Then Trump came along and at least brought the problem into the spotlight. You can imagine how people felt when their concerns were finally seriously addressed.

So what you have is the powers-that-be and their compliant media telling the American people that the government shouldn't enforce its own laws, that illegal immigrants should get services that Americans pay for, and that Americans shouldn't complain about immigration-induced stagnant wages, getting laid off to make way for immigrant labor, and getting victimized by immigrant crime, and that anyone who wants to stop illegal immigration or even reduce legal immigration is racist.

Large sections of the American population have had enough, and they support the Trump administration's goals of building a border wall to at least make it harder for people to illegally enter the U.S. and enforcing existing immigration laws. The problem is so bad that people are no longer cowed by the media shaming them or the politicians' platitudes.

The Democrats, the anti-Trump Republicans and the economic interests are determined to keep the advantages they gain from weak borders and immigration non-enforcement.

That's why it's so contentious.

EDIT:

The OP asked this additional question:

"... surely democrats are equally effected by the criminal behaviour as well ?"

Yes, Democratic voters and party members are affected by the criminal behavior, and they frequently suffer more from it.

The black community is strongly Democrat, voting 88% for Hillary in 2016, but they have seen their wages suppressed and they're the ones who have been losing jobs and suffering a campaign of racist killings by Mexican and Central American gangs.

Latinos are also strongly Democrat, with 66% of Latinos voting for Hillary in 2016, and their wages get suppressed and gangs and drugs endanger their neighborhoods too.

Immigrant communities in the U.S., very pro-Democrat, are frequently harmed more by crime, since gangs from other countries prey on their own communities first, and illegal immigrants in these communities are afraid to go to the police.

Union labor has traditionally been a strong Democratic voter bloc, but they have suffered from the economic effects of mass immigration and illegal immigration (among other economic policies, both Democrat and Republican). This is why Trump was just able to break through Hillary's 'Blue Wall' of the heavily unionized states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Michigan is where Detroit is, which was the heart of American manufacturing for decades, but is now an urban wasteland of abandoned neighborhoods and empty factories. Pennsylvania is home to Pittsburgh, a massive steel production center hit hard by cheap imports. Wisconsin has manufacturing and agricultural industries, and those workers were affected by cheap immigrant labor.

Imagine how the workers in these states responded when Trump went out on stage and declared he was going to bring jobs back.

Michael Moore, a completely anti-Trump and pro-Democrat filmmaker, understood this because he did a lot of documentary work in those states. He explains it very well: Michael Moore's speech warning about Trump and why people why would vote for him.

So, we have the Democratic Party publicly enacting and supporting policies which harm many of their own voters, and many of their voters see this. Still the Democrats persist. It's about the powerful doing what's profitable for them, regardless of their party, regardless of how it affects the people.

The trouble is that the Democrats have marketed themselves as the party that takes care of the people for decades. The Republicans, who are just as complicit in all of this, have always had the reputation of being the party of the rich.

  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. – immibis Jan 14 at 0:09
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    The Politics Stack Exchange does not exist to promote one person's or one side's political ideas. It is definitely not here to allow a space for someone to attack their political opponents. While you include several links, the vast majority have nothing to do with answering the question. Rather than explain why this is a controversial issue, and the actual positions of both sides, you simply call your political opponents bad people. At no point do you actually attempt to answer the Question asked. – trlkly Jan 15 at 10:15
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    The whole post is answering the OP's question: The issue is contentious because entrenched political and economic interests benefit from an uncontrolled border, while the rest of the people are harmed by it. The entrenched interests are determined to hold on to what they gain from the present situation, and the people are trying to change it, through electing Trump. No one called anyone 'bad people'. Some commenters have accused me of having bad qualities, but you didn't see fit to tell them that Stack Exchange isn't for attacking their political opponents. – TheLeopard Jan 15 at 12:28
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    Do you believe that the economic situation of Detroit would be different if Trump's wall had been in place already? If not, can you explain the significance of it to this answer? If you had framed it in terms of people's beliefs, you might have had less push-back, but throughout this answer, you present one side's arguments as "facts" and the other side as "distortion". You take as given Trump's rhetoric that he represents "the people", and everyone else is "the establishment", whereas the truth is that people don't all see things the same way and Trump is just another biased politician. – IMSoP Jan 15 at 14:38
  • @IMSoP Detroit's situation would have been different without mass/illegal immigration and other economic policies , like I said in my answer. I didn't address either side's arguments because OP wasn't asking about that, he was asking why the issue was such a hot button issue. Framing wouldn't have made a difference. – TheLeopard Jan 15 at 19:18

protected by Philipp Jan 13 at 0:36

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