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What I would trade for a border wall

If I were a politician, I’d be willing to give Donald his wall. But here’s my price.

US-Mexico border wall prototypes (Image Credit: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

A few days ago, author Jim Wright (aka Stonekettle on Twitter and Facebook) asked the following question: What would you trade for Donald’s wall? A lot of people said something along the lines of “nothing, because the Republicans can’t be trusted,” but his question got me thinking about what I, as a liberal and progressive, might be willing to trade for a border wall.

Well, here’s my response.

Let’s start by creating a legal process by which we partly or fully decriminalize most illicit drugs, starting with less dangerous ones and gradually stepping most Schedule One drugs off the list after 5 or 10 years. For drugs that are fully legalized (like recreational marijuana is in Colorado), change the banking laws so that providers can get their money into the banking system instead of operating on a cash-only basis.

As drugs are legalized, start widespread commutation of minor drug offenses (possession, use, dealing), and gradually release drug criminals back into the general population by way of treatment programs. Then work up into the non-violent drug offenses and do the same.

Create a new agency within Health & Human Services (or augment an existing agency) to provide former drug offenders and addicts free or heavily subsidized access to treatment programs. Fund a massive increase in mental health services (and the education system required to fill the new mental health positions that will be created) as part of those treatment programs.

Pass a law that anyone who has exited the prison population, completed their treatment and re-entry program, and stayed clean for a year has their conviction reversed and their criminal record expunged so that the drug offense doesn’t cause them problems with housing, finding a job, etc.

Fund education and vocational programs so that the large numbers of former criminals entering the general population have the skills for the job opportunities that will help keep them from falling back into addiction. At the same time, implement a job creation program that will actually create jobs and give the program the authority to move money around from areas where there are enough jobs to areas where there aren’t enough. But don’t limit the program to just former drug criminals – open it to all Americans in need of help.

Increase the amount of low-income housing nationwide, and put in place a system (with regular self-assessments to ensure it’s working right and improves regularly) that gradually increases wages and strengthens the social safety net so that we can reduce the causes of addiction in the US as well as catch and treat potential addicts before they become a danger to themselves or others.

At the same time, increase foreign aid to nations where gang violence fueled by US illicit drug money has driven migration. Aid should be targeted at converting illicit crops to productive crops, retraining gang members to be productive members of their countries, and the like. The goal would be to reduce or eliminate the proximate causes of migration in the first place while the changes to US drug policy would eliminate the root causes.

And since we’re going to build a wall at this point, let’s configure the wall in environmentally sensitive areas so that animals can cross the border more-or-less unimpeded while we are able to stop migrants entering illegally. It won’t be easy, but it’s should be possible.

Finally, we raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy in order to pay for it. It will probably cost a lot in the short term, but pay huge dividends in the long term.

That’s my price for a wall.

Now, does anyone think Donald would actually go for it?

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