Not all persons here illegally are alike; The wall keeps the worst ones out

There are numerous defensive, reflexive, and self-serving empty arguments against building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. One of the most misapplied ones is that “most illegal aliens enter the United States through airports, and so the wall wouldn’t do any good.”

First of all, any evidence as to how many Persons Here Illegally (PHIs) there are in the United States, let alone how they got here, is dubious. It is not as if PHIs readily comply with reporting their illegal status to census takers and law enforcement authorities so as to maintain an accurate tally. More importantly, even if the argument were true, that more PHIs enter through airports than caravans, that demonstrates an utter lack of understanding that not all PHIs are alike, and that all other things being equal, the wall would keep out the worst ones.

PHIs achieve that illegal status either by entering the United States without authorization, or entering legally and then staying here beyond their allotted time. The big difference between the two groups is that the latter have been vetted whereas the former never were. To illustrate, let us consider the examples of Frank, Juan, and Maria.

Franz and Juan are hardened criminals who have escaped prosecution and are on the run. Franz is from a European country and Juan is from Central America. Juan has an advantage over Franz: he trekked on foot and at times hitched rides up the countryside through Mexico and eventually walked across a vulnerable border spot along the U.S. southern border, into the United States. Franz, however, does not have the luxury, or ability, to sail across the Atlantic Ocean on a raft, or fly his own plane overseas. And, surely, he cannot swim across, or fly like a bird. Because of their criminal backgrounds, neither Franz nor Juan have any prayer of attaining a valid visa to enter the United States legally; their only hope is to enter illegally. Juan, based on his geographic advantage, can do so, whereas Franz is out of luck.

Then, there is Maria, a Mexican citizen who was awarded admission into an American university and flew into the United States on a student visa and enrolled. After two successful semesters, Maria received the sad news that her parents lost their family business, and would no longer be able to send her tuition money. Worse yet, they were in danger of losing their home and living on the streets. Seeking to help her family, Maria dropped out of school and got a job off the books as a waitress, and she is saving enough money to return to Mexico to help her family.

Franz, again, never even attempted to enter the United States, so he is out of the equation. Juan and Maria, though, are both here as PHIs. The difference is that Maria has an exemplary background, which is why she was allowed here in the first place. Her only transgression is that she remained illegally, motivated by the primal need to support her family. She is not likely to hold up a convenience store or join a gang. She is working hard as a waitress.

Juan, on the other hand, is immersed in crime. It is his second nature. He wouldn’t think twice about hitting an elderly person over the head, perhaps fatally, to steal a wallet or a purse. And if the chance of joining a ruthless criminal gang to make big money is a possibility, he’d jump on it in a heartbeat.

Granted, in an ideal America, the immigration system would operate so effectively that there wouldn’t be a single PHI here. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Comparing the two types of PHIs, then, those who were respectable enough to be allowed to enter legally to begin with, like Maria, and those who, like Juan, had such heinous backgrounds that the only possibly way for them to enter would be to sneak across the border, who wouldn’t prefer the Marias of the PHI universe to the Juans?

In fairness, it is important to note that sophisticated criminals, including terrorists, might have the infrastructure to circumvent the system and enter the United States legally, hoodwinking our vetting system and wreaking havoc on our nation. And though we have a great, though not foolproof counterterrorism process in place, it would be monumentally absurd to turn away from it because it is not 100% guaranteed.

Accordingly, a wall along our Southern border will not keep out every PHI, but the chances are most of our PHIs will be Marias instead of Juans. While too many Marias are still a detriment to our society in terms of logistics, they are not likely to shock our system by committing violent crimes.

To ignore the benefits of a wall by arguing that some wrongdoers might be able to outsmart the system would be like wanting to do away with every law enforcement officer in America, because not 100% of crime will be eradicated.

It is time for those suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) to cut their losses and realize that opposing the wall is a preposterous, illogical, factually devoid, and thereby inevitably losing battle.


Constantinos E. Scaros has practiced, taught, and written about immigration law. His latest book is Stop Calling Them “Immigrants” and is available in print and Kindle formats on He is a contributing writer of Attorneys United for a Secure America.

Image credit: © Tomas Castelazo, / Wikimedia Commons // via Wikipedia // CC BY-SA 4.0