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COMMENTARY

Rod Watson: Border wall funding? Try mass citizenship conversion

Todos somos Mexicanos ahora!

Translation, courtesy of yandex.translate.com: We are all Mexican now!

At least we soon will be if Donald Trump gets his way and American taxpayers waste $5 billion on a wall with Mexico to keep out women and children seeking asylum.

After all, we know what Trump promised us – and we also know he never, ever lies.

Trump: "Who’s going to pay for the wall?

Crowd: "Mexico!"

– Campaign rally in Burlington, Vt., Jan. 7, 2016

So when Congress returns to work Thursday to try to end the partial government shutdown Trump said he would be "proud" to own – before then trying to blame outnumbered Democrats – we will either have a mass reverse naturalization ceremony making all of us Mexican, or we will realize there are lot of better things to do with $5 billion than build a useless wall, slat fence or whatever face-saving name he can come up with.

What else could $5 billion buy? According to the National Priorities Project, which bills itself as "the people’s guide to the federal budget," we could more than double the amount spent on energy efficiency and renewable energy. That would help organizations like PUSH Buffalo expand its efforts on the West Side, where it has weatherized more than 500 drafty homes in a city whose aging housing stock exacts a toll on low-income residents dealing with harsh winters.

If Trump keeps his original promise, we also could use that money to help the local group expand renewable energy efforts like the one at the former School 77, which it converted to affordable senior citizen apartments powered by solar panels.

Trump: "Who’s going to pay for the wall?"

Crowd: "Mexico!"

– Campaign rally on Long Island, April 6, 2016

We could also take that $5 billion and use it to hike the Environmental Protection Agency budget by more than 60 percent, the budget group found. Assuming the EPA still believes in protecting the environment, that would boost efforts to deal with everything from invasive species to toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie rather than weakening Obama-era rules that protect the Great Lakes and Buffalo River. A University of Michigan study last fall found that for every federal dollar spent cleaning up lakes Erie, Ontario and other waterways, the Buffalo area could reap four dollars worth of economic growth over the next two decades.

That’s a far better investment than paying for a useless wall we were never supposed to pay for in the first place.

Trump: "Who’s going to pay for the wall?"

Crowd: "Mexico!"

Trump: "Not even a doubt!"

– Campaign rally in Billings, Mont., May 26, 2016

We could also resettle 11 times more refugees, according to the analysis, bringing in newcomers who – rather than being rapists and murderers, as the president claims – have proven to be a boon to Buffalo. Refugees have helped stem the city’s population decline and opened businesses that have helped revitalize the West Side.

Even though local resettlement agencies just dodged a cut that had been threatened for 2019, a share of that $5 billion – and a reversal of the reduction in the number of refugees allowed in – would let them continue to facilitate Buffalo’s rebirth.

Instead, the world’s greatest negotiator wants taxpayers to now fork over the $5 billion he repeatedly assured us he would extract from south of the border.

Knowing what a paragon of truth he is, if the president gets his way and we end up paying for the wall, it can only mean one thing:

Será mejor que aprendas a hablar Español.

(Translation: You had better learn to speak Spanish.)

 

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