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Trump's wall draws criticism and support from students

ASU students split on the president's recent steps toward fullfilling his border wall promise

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks on Monday, Jan. 30, 2017 before signing an executive order in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C. (Andrew Harrer/Pool/Sipa USA/TNS)

President Donald Trump has been moving quickly since his inauguration to deliver a promise that was expressed throughout his entire campaign: the wall.

On Jan. 25, Trump signed an executive order directing the construction of the massive wall on the Mexican-American border, turning the issue from a campaign promise to an administrative reality.

As immigration policy stiffens in the U.S., many ASU students find themselves tracing their family lineage back to Mexico and some are having problems with Trump's immigration policies.

“Trump’s wall is a direct message to Mexican citizens that the U.S. sees you as a problem,” ASU public policy junior Oscar Hernandez said.

Hernandez is eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an Obama-era program meant to focus immigration efforts away from children who have lived primarily in the U.S.

“We are making other countries believe that we are a country filled with hate and racism,” Hernandez said.

Esli Soto Vega, a civil engineering freshman, is also DACA student. She immigrated to the U.S. when she was 2 years old.

“It’s an ignorant point of view,” Soto Vega said about Trump's immigration policies. “I never suspected I was an illegal immigrant. We feel American, we grew up here.”

Soto Vega said the deportation of undocumented immigrants was an “an act of racism and discrimination.” She also said the deporting of immigrants is counterproductive and takes away immigrants' opportunity to contribute to society. 

Although some criticize the wall, not all students are opposed to stronger border protections.

“A border is basic infrastructure,” said David Lattimer, a computer science and electrical engineering sophomore. “I wouldn't say it's actually negative. I would say that (the wall) does upset a large group of people, though."

However, Lattimer said that he does hope that DACA students are allowed to stay with student visas. 

Questions have swarmed Trump about the border wall since it was first announced on his campaign trail, but basic groundwork has already been put in place from past administrations.

“Trump can build a wall,” David Wells, a political science professor at ASU, said. “There was a 2006 bipartisan bill passed by Congress and signed by President (George W.) Bush for 700 miles.”

The Secure Fence Act of 2006 was started by the Bush administration but a lack of funding prevented the project from being completed.

Although Trump said Mexico would pay for the wall on the campaign trail, Wells said Trump will face a similar funding complication. As of right now, Trump has instead proposed a 20 percent tax on imports from Mexico as a way to reimburse costs of the wall.

“The cost is estimated at $20 billion — (I'm) not sure where that money comes from, not Mexico,” Wells said. “Congress pays for it.”

Reach the reporter at and follow @MrVictorRen on Twitter.

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