Illustration: iStock

They say: “People will hold on to a beautiful lie before they accept the ugly truth.”

The mythical “they,” in this case, is my grandmother. She may have heard it from someone else. If you sourced the quote on Twitter, it was probably the wisest, most quoted figures of all time:

Will Smith or Maya Angelou.

They say everything.

The point here is that the things “they” say eventually become accepted as fact. And very seldom is it pointed out that “they” don’t usually know what they are talking about. In fact, if you ever hear a fact prefaced with “they say...” you should be skeptical. The only people who willingly accept lies are people who:

  1. Don’t know the truth, or...
  2. Don’t care to know the truth.

We sometimes unknowingly help create the perfect ecosystem for lies to flourish by simply not stating facts. Of course, there will be some logic-resistant idiots, but too often we spend time debunking lies instead of just explaining the truth. And a lot of people who don’t have the facts and truth will blindly believe whatever “they say.”

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Tonight, Donald Trump, president, future inductee into the Lying Motherfuckers Hall of Fame and one of the most well-known proponents of the doctrine of “they say,” will address the country in primetime about why he has shut down the federal government in an attempt to force Congress to allow him to build a border wall. Trump’s address will be followed by a response from the Democratic Party, which has resisted Trump’s pledge to build his pet project, a wall that Mexico was supposedly going to pay for with thoughts and prayers.

Two years ago, everyone in America thought the idea was so stupid that very few people even addressed the possibility of its existence. But now, both political parties are having a serious debate about an idea so dumb China gave up on the idea 450 years ago.

The reason we have reached an impasse is that, for four years, the Democratic Party attacked Trump’s lies like whack-a-mole instead of proactively providing the public with facts. If someone convinces your kid that strangers have the best candy, you aren’t doing your job to keep your kids safe. The unfocused, message-less Democrats helped create a vacuum where Trump’s lies could flourish instead of simply saying, over and over again: “Here is why the wall is a stupid idea.”

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Here is why the wall is a stupid idea:

1. Most unauthorized immigrants came here legally.

We shouldn’t even call these people “undocumented” because a study by the non-partisan Center for Migration Studies New York found that two-thirds of unauthorized people who came to the U.S. in 2014 “did not illegally cross a border, but were admitted (after screening) on non-immigrant (temporary) visas, and then overstayed their period of admission or otherwise violated the terms of their visas.”

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In fact, 42 percent of all unauthorized immigrants currently in the U.S. simply overstayed their visas. When combined with people who enter the country on the Canadian border, and by boat, air or car, even if the people crossing at the Southern border couldn’t figure out such high-tech methods as places where the wall isn’t, a wall would only stop a small percentage of the entries.

2. Terrorists don’t cross the southern border.

If you can’t recall the horrific terrorist incident that happened after evil jihadists snuck across the Mexican border, you’re not the only one. That’s because it never happened.

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Of the nearly 2 million people on the terrorist watch list, approximately 6 were caught trying to sneak into the U.S. on the Southern border, according to CNN’s review of Homeland Security records.

“There are no known international terrorist organizations operating in Mexico,” a State Department official said in 1016, adding that there is also “no evidence that any terrorist group has targeted U.S. citizens in Mexican territory, and no credible information that any member of a terrorist group has traveled through Mexico to gain access to the United States.”

3. A wall won’t stop MS-13.

To be fair, that’s partly because the deadly gang originated in the U.S. And while 90 percent of MS-13 gang members live in the Central American triangle, most MS-13 members in the U.S. became members after they came here.

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Border and Customs officials say that between 2012 and 1017, only 1 out of every 5,000 migrants caught crossing the border was confirmed or “suspected” to have an affiliation with MS-13. The gang also accounts for less than 1 percent of gang members in the US., although I’m not sure if “members” is the right word. Maybe they’re “brothers.” Do they pledge? I thought I saw the Crips probate once. I was surprised they had their jumping-in crossing ceremony in full view of the public.

It turns out they were just Sigmas.

No one cares what the Sigmas do.

4. A border wall won’t stop drugs from coming into the country.

Noted white supremacist and congressman, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), once said of people crossing the southern border: “For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”

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But the truth is that no one is smuggling large amounts of drugs across unprotected parts of the desert. Mexican cartels have much more sophisticated methods, such as boats, trucks planes, and at least one solar-powered subway system. In 2015, the Drug Enforcement Agency described how drugs get from Mexico to your weed man:

National Drug Threat Assessment Summary, October 2015: Mexican TCOs transport the bulk of their drugs over the Southwest Border through ports of entry (POEs) using passenger vehicles or tractor trailers. The drugs are typically secreted in hidden compartments when transported in passenger vehicles or comingled with legitimate goods when transported in tractor trailers...

Mexican TCOs also transport marijuana via commercial cargo trains and on small boats, often referred to as “pangas,” from the West Coast of Baja California north to the central California coast. Finally, Mexican TCOs have also transported drugs across the Southwest Border using ultralight aircraft.

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5. Ladders exist.

Aside from ladders, there are many methods of traversing a dumb, unmanned wall. People in jail do it all the time and they haven’t walked 3,000 miles fleeing from a cartel.

Because of private property rights, natural disasters, rainfall, environmental concerns, and features of the landscape, it would be impossible to build a continuous wall. People would just go where the wall isn’t. The bottom line is, it’s not that hard to outsmart a wall.

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Unless, of course, you’re Donald Trump.

6. Mexicans don’t actually want to come here.

Despite the grumblings about Mexicans “taking over,” the number of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. has steadily decreased over the past decade, according to Pew Research. Undocumented migrants are at the lowest point since 2004, and it’s mostly because of Mexico. There are more undocumented Mexicans leaving the U.S. every year than there are trying to enter the country.

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And it is not true that undocumented workers are taking jobs. The percentage of the workforce represented by undocumented workers has gone down since 2007.

7. Immigrants make communities safer.

While Trump would have you believe that migrants are “rapists” and M-13 “animals,” studies show that undocumented immigrants are less likely than U.S. citizens to commit a crime. In fact, researchers have determined that the rise in foreign-born populations creates a decrease in violent crime — homicide rates in particular.

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Instead of calling Trump a racist, whenever Trump tries to demonize immigrants, Dems should point out that sociologists know crime is a socioeconomic phenomenon. And according to the Bureau of Justice statistics, poor urban Hispanics have lower rates of violence than whites or blacks. When mentioning this, they must be careful not to mention that poor urban whites have the highest rates of violence of any group in America, or they might cause a riot.

They should still call Trump racist, but at least they’ll have proof.

8. The Obama administration enforced border security.

The Obama administration did not have a child separation policy or advocate for a wall, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t in favor of border security. President Barack Obama actually executed a border enforcement and immigration policy that turned away unauthorized migrants at the border and deported more unauthorized immigrants than any other president.

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However, instead of just rounding up everyone, the Obama administration strategically targeted their deportations. In 2015, 91 percent of the people deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement had previously been convicted of a crime. And while the Obama administration was one of the toughest on unauthorized migration, they kept families together when they were detained crossing the border.

9. We can’t build a border wall for $5 billion.

In 2009, the Government Accountability Office estimated that a single-layer fence would cost $6.5 per mile plus millions in roads and maintenance. Marc Rosenblum, deputy director of the U.S. Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Institute, told NBC News it would probably cost about 15 to $25 billion. In 2006, Congress passed the Secure Fence Law to put 850 miles of double-layered fencing along the US border.

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It cost $2.3 billion and another $274 million per year to maintain.

But apparently, we can build a barrier made of concrete or steel barrier 3 times as long for $5.6 billion. Or maybe Trump’s estimate is based on the use of cheap labor like...ummm...migrant workers, maybe?

10. Everyone knows it’s a stupid idea.

When Trump was running for president, all of his Republican counterparts thought it was a stupid idea. His current chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, once called the idea of a wall “childish” and “simplistic.” Trump ally Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in early January 2017 said: “We’ve already appropriated money for walls. We’ve got walls right now.”

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People who work in immigration don’t even want the wall. In 2017, Customs and Border patrol requested only 23 more miles of fencing but asked for more technology. The head of the National Border Patrol Council who endorsed Trump,  stated: “We do not need a wall along the entire 2,000 miles of border.” Just before he left office, Outgoing Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Gil Kerlikowske said, “I think that anyone who’s been familiar with the southwest border and the terrain ... kind of recognizes that building a wall along the entire southwest border is probably not going to work,” adding that he does not “think it is feasible” or the “smartest way to use taxpayer money on infrastructure.”

A study co-authored by Stanford economists Melanie Morten, Cauê Dobbin, and Dartmouth economist Treb Allen found that the border fence actually cost workers money and did not curb unlawful immigration. Every peer-reviewed study by academics and researchers either said it won’t reduce the flow of undocumented migrants or that it will cost the U.S. more than we will benefit.

But like they always say: “You never know until you try it.”

However, you know what I always say:

“‘They’ don’t know shit.”