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Build a Moral Wall -- and Gate

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

The United States of America granted lawful permanent resident status to 1,127,167 immigrants in 2017, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Over the past 30 years, we have given 30,311,416 immigrants that status.

They have come to this country -- legally -- from all over the Earth.

Of the 1,127,167 granted permanent resident status last year, 424,743 came from Asia; 413,650 came from other countries in North America; 118,824 from Africa; 84,335 from Europe; and 79,076 from South America.

There were 146,003 accepted into this country as refugees or granted asylum because they were persecuted in their homeland.

Can it be reasonably argued that the United States does not have a generous and open-hearted policy when it comes to admitting immigrants?


Today, the Statue of Liberty is as symbolic of what America stands for as it has ever been.

According to Gallup, potential immigrants from around the world remain more attracted to America than any other nation.

"For the past decade, Gallup's global studies have shown that the U.S., more so than any other country, has been the top desired destination for people who say they would like to move," Gallup said in a Nov. 8 release.

"Three percent of the world's adults -- or nearly 160 million people -- say they would like to move to the U.S.," said Gallup.

It is a testimony to America's greatness that we remain the world's most attractive nation.

But it is also an obvious thing that we cannot admit all 160 million people who would immigrate here if they could.

So what is a just and rational way to decide who gets in?

Many in the Washington political establishment would grant a de facto preference to those who are willing to break the morally justified immigration and border laws of the United States.

Their approach to Honduras may provide a good example.

In a June 28, 2017 release, Gallup said 30 percent of Honduran adults wanted to move to the United States. The CIA World Factbook estimates that in 2017, there were 9,038,741 people in Honduras. If 30 percent of them were to immigrate to the United States, Hondurans alone would account for about 2,711,622 immigrants.

In fiscal 2017, according to the DHS, the United States granted permanent resident status to 11,387 Hondurans. Assuming 30 percent of Hondurans (2,711,622 people) would like to move to the United States, that means that for each of the 11,387 Hondurans we granted legal residency to in 2017, there were approximately 238 back in Honduras who would like that privilege, too.

Citing an official from a group called Pueblo Sin Fronteras, The New York Times reported this week that four caravans "with as many as 10,000 total members, have set out for the United States." According to the official, "the majority of the caravan members were from Honduras."

Assuming, again, that 30 percent of Hondurans want to move to the United States, that means for each of the approximately 10,000 people in the caravans, there are about 271 people in Honduras who would like to move to America.

What is the difference between those in the caravans (whether from Honduras or elsewhere) and the aspiring American immigrants still in Honduras?

Certainly, many in the caravans are prepared to illegally enter the United States. Just as certainly, many in Honduras who would love to immigrate here would never break the law to do so.

Whom should the immigration policies of the United States prefer: the potential immigrant willing to break our just laws, or the potential immigrant who would never do so?

Which would-be immigrant benefits from an unenforced border? Which from a border ruled by law?

This week, Martha MacCallum of Fox News interviewed Rodney Scott, the chief Border Patrol agent for the San Diego sector, about the elements of the caravan that recently arrived there. Scott made a telling observation about the eight miles of new border wall that have been built there: They worked.

"I'd like to point out that not a single migrant climbed over the new border wall," he said.

The United States has the engineering ability to build a simple structure along the border that illegal crossers cannot breach. Such a wall would stand as a deterrent to those tempted to illegally cross.

That would be morally superior to leaving the border without a wall and sending Border Patrol agents out to confront illegal crossers.

It would also be fairer to the millions of would-be immigrants in Honduras and elsewhere who would love to move to this land of liberty and would only come legally, through an open gate.

Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor in chief of 

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