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To Wall or Not to Wall: That Is the Question

Several students have written opinion pieces on the recent government shutdown and the battle between President Trump and Congressional leadership over funding for a proposed security wall on the southern U.S. border.

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Several students have written opinion pieces on the recent government shutdown and the battle between President Trump and Congressional leadership over funding for a proposed security wall on the southern U.S. border. Students have put forth arguments from both sides in their opinion pieces and have represented the competing views with passion with an attempt to be fair-minded to all sides. This article is meant to serve as a “summary” or evaluation of the stated arguments and broader issues at hand and will hopefully help shape the dialogue on this issue that the students began with their opinion pieces.

First of all, it is important to note that these articles from the students are opinion pieces, and it is great that students are encouraged to share their reasoned opinions in a thoughtful manner. Obviously if one student is writing an opinion piece, it probably means that there are different opinions on the same matter – and it is especially important to note that when sharing one’s opinion, each of us should make the effort to listen and understand the different opinions of others. James 1:19 is a great verse to help us effectively engage on controversial cultural issues in a meaningful way: “know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”

Secondly, it is also important to understand that both sides of an argument have passion for their cause and facts to support their opinions. In terms of funding to build a security wall, there are facts to support building a wall and facts that support not building a wall. The job of a Christian in this situation is not to beat the other person with their facts, but rather to listen to both sides and then to learn to think critically about how to interpret and weigh those facts. As the students all shared, building a wall would have an impact on illegal immigration, but to what degree? One paper brought up additional considerations, like environmental issues, that building a wall may impose and those should be evaluated for veracity and significance. Students addressed the cost of building a wall, which must be considered not only in terms of immediate financial outlay, but also considering the additional implications to the discussion. One student noted that a security wall that will impact illegal immigration may also have a secondary effect on the illegal drug trade – what is spent on the wall could be saved by reducing the flow of dangerous drugs. Then again, one student mentioned that there could be additional costs with the maintenance and personnel of the wall that go beyond the $5 billion price tag to build it – more issues to consider and weigh for your decision.

Thirdly, the students brought up the additional issues that building a wall doesn’t address – what to do with those currently in the U.S. illegally, including a large number of “legal” immigrants who have overstayed their visas? Both of the opinion pieces made a point that the current immigration policy seems to be inadequate and needs to be addressed. Does building a security wall on the southern border help with this current situation by reducing the flow of illegal immigrants into the country or are additional issues needing to be raised and evaluated for current individuals separate from the building of a wall?

Finally, whether the U.S. government builds a security wall or not, there are additional issues that Christians ought to be considering in the midst of this debate. What should our attitudes and actions be toward those individuals and families who are currently in the U.S.? If churches are going to have prison outreach ministries to men and women who have broken various laws, wouldn’t it be consistent to minister to the needs and well-being of these illegal aliens who have violated our country’s immigration laws? These are just a couple of important questions that should be asked and answered regardless of what happens with the wall.

Even though the government shutdown has ended, the debate over funding to build a security wall appears far from over. To some, a wall provides security and projects strength, to others a wall provides only obstacles for freedom and projects superiority and racism. Ultimately decisions will be made and hopefully Christians will be at the forefront of providing reasonable and compassionate solutions to this and other issues facing our country. Hopefully we will learn to listen well and honestly consider the views and positions of others and work toward solutions that demonstrate respect and dignity for all mankind, as we are all made in the image of God. And prayerfully we will remember that Peter calls us, as follows of Jesus Christ, aliens and sojourners, those who are passing through this life to the next, so that our ultimate goal is not political victory, but spiritual. Whether you support a security wall being built or not, may we remember to point people to Christ through our words and our actions and may nothing that we say or do be an obstacle to God’s grace and forgiveness.