The wall is the wrong solution to the opioid crisis

President Donald Trump, left, looks over to Susan Stevens, right, who is holding up a picture of her daughter, during an event in the Rose Garden at the White House to declare a national emergency in order to build a wall along the southern border, Friday, Feb. 15, 2019 in Washington. Stevens lost her daughter to opioids. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

As President Trump declares a national emergency over his border wall funding, there has been much debate over whether or not this action is legal. However, perhaps an even more important issue to consider is that the wall will not even be effective for what Trump wants to accomplish. Besides the issue of the wall stopping illegal immigration, another problem Trump wants to tackle is stopping the opioid crisis by stopping the flow of drugs into the U.S. from the southern border. However, the fact is that the wall would not help the opioid crisis and is the wrong way of fixing this tragic problem.

Despite Trump’s claims that the wall will stop drugs from entering the country, most drugs enter through legal ports of entry, according to a Vox article. Drug traffickers have grown adept at hiding drugs in places where they can easily get through such legal ports of entry, rendering the wall useless at stopping this way of smuggling drugs. Also, drug traffickers are able to easily adapt to difficult smuggling conditions, as they have made use of tunnels, submarines and drones; all methods of smuggling that the wall would not be able to prevent. An archaic defense technology will not be able to defend from the 21st century’s most advanced ways of transporting drugs.

This is all besides the point, however. The biggest problem with the opioid crisis is not preventing the drugs from entering the U.S.; it is treating those at home who have fallen victim to opioid addiction and feel as if they have no way out besides continuing to use the drugs that have ruined their lives. According to the Surgeon General, only one in four people suffering from opioid addiction sought treatment.

Whenever the opioid crisis is brought up by Trump, it is always a tactic to get people to act more xenophobic and increase fervor for the wall, and not an honest pledge to help people suffering from this terrible affliction. If Trump actually wanted to help this crisis, there would be an increase in funding for treatment and drugs that can help treat addiction, such as methadone, would be more readily available.

Right now, fewer than half of treatment facilities offer such medication, which can reduce fatality rate by half. This is an outrageous problem and attention from Trump and the government is needed to fix it. Sadly, politicians would rather use the opioid crisis as a political prop in order to further their anti-immigration agenda.

The most infuriating aspect of the wall fight is that advocates for the wall are pretending to help victims of addiction, who desperately need the proper treatment in order to rebuild their lives. These people are suffering and to make matters worse, society stigmatizes them and dismisses their attempts to return to the world. According to the Surgeon General, 45.5 percent of people who suffer from opioid addiction also suffer from a mental illness. Their drug problem is not who they are; it is a symptom of what they are dealing with.

We as a country should be concerned with helping them before we concern ourselves with erecting a useless wall which will only serve to distract from the real problems at hand. The wrong solution is being suggested for the opioid problem and the longer this false solution is advertised as the answer, the longer people actually suffering from addiction will suffer. And for some it will be too late.


Ben Crnic is a contributor for the The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at benjamin.crnic@uconn.edu.