Soy-Sauce-and-Citrus-Marinated Chicken and Bucatini with Lemony Carbonara: Not Your Standard Weeknight Dinners

I was going to write about the Sharks’ 6 game losing streak this week, and then they won a game. Then I was going to write about how they “got back on track” after that nice come from behind win against the Rangers on Tuesday, and then I realized it was probably going to be a copy and paste of every other article about the Sharks on the internet this week.

I would do a playoff preview, but it would probably be a worse version of every “preview of the Sharks’ possible playoff opponents” online, so I decided to write about food again since I made a couple of good dishes this week. It’s becoming more apparent to me that the NHL content of Buffalo Wings and Political Things will likely be interspersed into the food and political posts, but we will see how things go.

At this point, after the way they looked during the losing streak, I’m just glad the Sharks managed to clinch the playoffs, and am no longer expecting a Pacific Division title or worrying about a first round opponent. If they can go all the way to the Cup as a Wild Card last year, knocking off three very tough teams in LA, Nashville, and St. Louis, they can do the same this year with what I believe is an improved roster. Lets hope.

Anyways, let’s talk food.

Sam was kind enough to recently purchase me a subscription to Bon Apétit, a food magazine that has a dear place in my heart as it was the source of many of the excellent dishes my dad would cook on the weekends while I was growing up. Ever since I moved out I have continued to use the magazine’s website for the occasional recipe but the selection of free recipes online is limited and slightly repetitive.

I got my first issue in the mail last month, and after it sat on the coffee table for a few weeks I finally put it to good use, trying two new recipes in the last week. The first one was a delicious Soy-Sauce-and-Citrus-Marinated Chicken.

Unfortunately I completely forgot to take pictures, but the dish was delicious. I marinated 4 bone-in, skinned chicken thighs in a mixture of soy sauce, garlic cloves, crushed ginger, grapefruit juice, orange juice, lemon juice, white vinegar, and sugar for a couple of days (the chicken went into the marinade on Sunday night, and was eaten on Monday and Tuesday night).

To cook, I took out two thighs and placed them on a foil lined baking sheet, patted them dry, and seasoned them with Kosher salt. They then went into the oven for around 25 minutes at 375F, until they reached 165F internally, when they came out and sat for about 5 minutes before serving.

As I said, the chicken was delicious, especially on Tuesday night after it had sat in the marinade for an extra day. The dark meat of the thighs soaked in every flavor of the marinade, and I was able to taste the ginger, soy, citrus, and garlic individually. The skin, lightly salted, was saved for last and was juicy and flavorful. In the future, I would probably swap out the lemon juice in the marinade for lime, cut down on the grapefruit and up the other citrus, and add some greens to the meal (although the chicken went excellently with the sticky sushi rice we ate it with). I won’t paste the full recipe and cooking steps here since I don’t have pictures to accompany the dish, but if you are interested in the full recipe, give me a ping.

For the 2nd recipe this past week, I decided to get venture out on a limb and prepare something that I don’t normally cook: a slightly complex pasta dish. I’ve always enjoyed eating pasta when I go out to restaurants, but my pasta arsenal at home has usually consisted of spaghetti with Newman’s Own marinara, pre-made ravioli, or penne pasta with pre-made pesto—Sam is really the pasta expert in the house. However, I wanted to try my hand at something new in an attempt to expand my repertoire and get a little bit out of my comfort zone.

Conveniently enough for me, the recipe listed directly after the previously discussed chicken was something that immediately caught my eye: Bucatini with Lemony Carbonara. I am a big fan of citrus, a big fan of thick noodles, and a big fan of pasta dishes that include meat, so I guess it was my lucky week! After I took a look at the ingredients and the cooking steps, I immediately decided that the carbonara would be dinner for Wednesday and Thursday nights. I was not disappointed by my choice.

I will first will lay out the ingredients, talk about the dish, and post a few photos, and then include the cooking instructions at the bottom for all who are interested.

Ingredients (makes 4 servings)

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 6 oz. guanicale (salt cured pork jowl), pancetta, (Italian bacon), or slab bacon, thinly sliced, cut crosswise into ½” pieces [editor’s note: I used regular thick cut bacon from the plebe grocery store and the dish turned out just fine]
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced [I used 5]
  • 1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • 12 oz. bucatini or other long-strand pasta
  • 2 oz. Parmesan, grated, plus more
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest, plus thinly sliced zest for serving
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

The dish was excellent. The lemon zest and juice added a fresh, fruity, but understated twist to the pasta, and it blended well with the other traditional ingredients. The thick bucatini noodles absorbed all of the flavors quite nicely (I would definitely recommend the thick bucatini noodles over regular spaghetti), and the thickness of the bacon, cheese, and egg balanced nicely with the lighter ingredients in the dish.

The next time I make this dish, I will up the shallots and garlic, as although I could taste them along with the other ingredients, they weren’t as pronounced in the sauce as I was hoping (just a note, I do like onion and garlic flavors a lot, so the given amounts may already be perfect, and it could be my palate that is off). I would also keep the pasta off the heat a little longer than I did before I added the egg yolks, as the pan was still quite hot so some of the egg cooked immediately upon being poured in and there were a few small bits of scrambled egg in the dish (once you mixed everything together, you could barely notice).

This was a solid 4/5 stars for me, and has definitely been added to the Chris Issel Cooking Library!

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Sam’s serving
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The master at work–bonus points if you can spot the kitty

Here are the instructions:

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Cook guanicale, tossing often, until browned and crisp, 6-8 minutes. Add shallots and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add pepper and cook, stirring often, just until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 ½ cups pasta cooking liquid.

Add pasta to skillet along with ½ cup pasta cooking liquid and 1 oz. Parmesan and toss to coat. Remove skillet from heat and add egg yolks [editor’s note: as I mentioned make sure the pan isn’t too hot or the egg will immediately cook and the yolk won’t blend into the dish]. Toss again, adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until a smooth glossy sauce coats pasta [editor’s note: the recipe does not say to return the skillet to heat after adding the egg, but I continued to cook on low heat after I blended in the yolk].

Add grated lemon zest, lemon juice, and another 1 oz. Parmesan. Toss to coat, adding more pasta cooking liquid if needed to loosen sauce.

Divide pasta among bowls, top with sliced lemon zest and more Parmesan. Serve.

Chris and Buffalo Sauce, A Short History (Plus Honey Mustard Buffalo Meatballs)

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Are these for me? 

Anyone who has ever eaten with me knows that I love spicy foods, especially all things buffalo, which is why “Buffalo Wings” was harangued into the title of my blog (full disclosure: Sam came up with the name). It was then only fitting that my first non-political piece for this little project would be related to my beloved buffalo sauce. However, before I get into the delicious recipe that Sam made for me last Thursday night I thought it would be best to give a brief history on my affinity that delicious combination of vinegar, chilies, spices, salt, and pepper (international news is also pretty depressing right now, and I couldn’t bring myself to bang out a piece on Brexit, Syria, North Korea the various EU crises, or Trump. I will save my venting piece on the Sharks’ current struggles for later in the week).

As a kid of partially Hispanic descent I had always liked spicy foods more than most kids my age, but my love for buffalo chicken wings themselves was really kindled by an experience my mother and I had on a family trip to Walt Disney World in the year 2000. My mom, dad, sister (who was 3 at the time) and myself took a weeklong trip to MickeyWorldTM during my 3-week October break from school—my elementary school was on a year-round schedule which meant only a 6 week summer but three weeks off in October, December, and March (nice, right?). It was about halfway through the trip, and on this particular day my dad was off doing something dads do when they get dragged to Disney World with their young families (At the spa? Golfing? Finding new ways to combine denim shorts and white New Balance shoes?), and Taryn was at the hotel kids club (or something like that, I really don’t remember).

It was just my mom and I for lunch so she did what all good moms do and took me to ESPN Zone so I could stuff my 9-year old face with fried food, watch sports, and play arcade games. After reviewing ESPN Zone’s selection of fine frozen mozzarella sticks and undercooked potato skins, we settled on the large bucket of chicken wings to share between us. Apparently we did not read the fine print on the menu, for the waiter brought us a literal paint bucket (a small paint bucket, but still a paint bucket) filled with 21 chicken wings—and these weren’t the single wings, but 21 FULL WINGS, so we really had 42 wings between the 2 of us.

We were definitely surprised, but knew it would be shameful to not even attempt to eat them all, so we tucked in and gave it our best shot (I honestly can’t remember if we finished the whole bucket). The wings were delicious, and ever since that day I have always had a tendency to order those spicy, bony little pieces of deliciousness wherever I can. In college I tried basically every buffalo chicken pizza available in the Boston area (Roggie’s was my go-to but only because it was so close to BC), and to this day I continue to love buffalo (a full review of all the buffalo wings available in Ocean Beach is another piece I have lined up for here).

That being said, enough history. Let’s get to the delicious Honey Mustard Buffalo Meatballs Sam cooked for me last Thursday.

Before I begin, I must give full credit for this recipe to Whitney Bond, from whom this excellent recipe came. You can find the direct link to this recipe on her website here.

I will defer ingredients and instructions to the bottom and instead talk about the food itself (another full disclosure: Sam did all the cooking while I played PlayStation).

In short, the meatballs were delicious. The chicken and pork combined with the garlic, onions, and other meatball ingredients very nicely. After cooking, the meatballs were juicy and rich, and did not fall apart on my plate as some homemade meatballs are wont to do. The honey mustard dressing and buffalo sauce blended together into a delicious mixture that was both sweet and spicy, bold and subtle. Sam melted some mozzarella cheese onto some ciabatta bread to create a sort of open-faced sandwich which helped to round out the meal.

One of my favorite aspects of the meatballs were how versatile they were. The following Sunday morning, I broke apart a couple of the meatballs until they looked ground up and tossed them into a skilled with some cooking oil. I then heated the meat for a few minutes to get it hot (it had already been cooked), and then added three eggs and scrambled up the whole pan for a sort of chorizo-and-eggs style dish. Later that night, I turned on the broiler in my oven and melted some mozzarella and garlic onto a French sandwich roll, then added some meatballs and sauce for a delicious sub.

As a long-time lover of all things buffalo, I was a huge fan of these meatballs and must give thanks to Whitney Bond for the excellent recipe as well as my lovely girlfriend Sam for knowing me so well and preparing them for me. Keep an eye out for more buffalo-related pieces in the coming weeks!

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(Please excuse the crappy iPhone photos).

Here is the recipe and instructions (again, this is via Whitney Bond’s website).

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil (divided)
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buffalo sauce
  • 1 cup honey mustard dressing

Add 1 tbsp olive oil to a large skillet, or dutch oven, over medium high heat, add the onions and cook 3-5 minutes, add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.

Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken and ground pork with the cooked onions and garlic. Add the breadcrumbs, chili powder, paprika and eggs. Combine well without over mixing.

Form into golf ball sized meatballs. Add the remaining tbsp olive oil to the large skillet in which the onions were cooked. Place the skillet on the stove over medium high heat.

Add the meatballs and brown on each side for 1-2 minutes.

Pour the buffalo sauce and honey mustard dressing over the meatballs.

Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Alternatively, you can slow cook the meatballs. After they’re seared, transfer the meatballs to a slow cooker, then pour the buffalo sauce and honey mustard into the slow cooker. Cook on high for 2 hours, or on low for 5-6 hours.

Once the meatballs are cooked, you can turn the slow cooker to warm and you’ll have delicious buffalo chicken meatballs hot & ready whenever your party guests arrive!

The Decline in German-Turkish Relations and the Implications for European Security

This past Sunday, March 5th 2017, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan made the extraordinary proclamation that recent actions undertaken by the German government were “no different than the Nazi ones of the past.” Mr. Erdogan was referring not to some new German law or inflammatory language from a German political party, but rather to the decision taken by German authorities last week to cancel 3 rallies in the German cities of Gaggenau, Cologne, and Frechen. The rallies, which were to be attended by various ministers of the Turkish government, were organized to help drum up support for a “yes” vote on an upcoming April 2017 constitutional referendum in Turkey that would grant Mr. Erdogan sweeping new powers.

The referendum proposes 18 changes to the Turkish Constitution. A yes vote would abolish the office of the Prime Minister, move Turkey away from a parliamentary system of government and introduce an executive presidency, raise the number of seats in Parliament, and give the President more control over the judiciary. There are millions of Turks abroad eligible to vote in the referendum, with around 1.5 million of them living in Germany.

Various reasons were given for the cancellations. Officials in Cologne stated that they had been misled about the purpose of the rallies, while those in Gaggenau stated that the location for which the rally was planned had insufficient space for the number of people slated to attend[1]. The reason behind the cancellation mattered not to Erdogan, who accused the Germans of “fascist action” and stated that the German government had no relation to democracy[2]. The comparison drew ire and outrage from German government officials, media organizations, and private citizens.

The recent spat over the cancellation of the pro-Erdogan rallies in Germany comes against the backdrop of increasingly strained relations between the two NATO allies. Although the countries are linked by the NATO military alliance and are major trading partners, relations have soured over the past several years, and especially since the start of the European migrant crisis in 2015. After it became increasingly clear that the European nations would not be able to handle the massive influx of refugees, asylum seekers, and economic migrants who began arriving via various routes in the summer of 2015, the European Union, and especially Germany, the top destination for most migrants, sought a way to stem the tide.

The result was a deal struck between the European Union and Turkey that was aimed at stopping the unfiltered flow of refugees and economic migrants into Europe. The deal included the following: Turkey would receive 6 billion euros, as well as re-ignited talks on its efforts to join the EU. Turkey also received a promise of upcoming visa-free travel for its citizens to Europe. In return, Turkey would beef up patrols of the main migrant crossing between Turkey and Greece in the Aegean Sea, and all migrants intercepted would be sent back to Turkey, where they would remain. The deal specifically targeted Syrians—for every Syrian forced to return to Turkey or deported from Europe, one would be legally admitted into the European Union. The deal did not make specific allowances for other Middle Eastern or Asian countries experiencing ongoing conflicts, including Iraq and Afghanistan[3].

The deal almost immediately ran into trouble. Human rights groups in Europe and around the world, including the UN refugee agency UNHCR and Amnesty International, decried the fact that migrants and refugees would be returned to Turkey, a nation with a spotty record on human rights. These same groups also noted that Turkey had been reported to be returning Syrians to active conflict zones in Syria, which would be a violation of international law[4]. On the other side, Turkey began complaining in late 2016 of delays in the implementation of visa-free travel for Turks to Europe, which the EU insisted were conditional upon the implementation of several “benchmarks” in Turkey, including changes in laws to allow for fairer trials and freedom of expression[5].

These events occurred as Turkey’s record on human rights has deteriorated and Erdogan’s authoritarian tendencies increased, especially since the failed military coup of July 2016, although Erdogan had been presenting himself more and more as a strongman for years prior to the coup attempt. In the wake of the coup, the Turkish government has purged or detained thousands of soldiers, journalists, teachers, police officers, judges, civil servants, and others who have been accused of aiding the coup plotters. The European Union, the United States, and others have accused or suspected the Erdogan government of using the failed coup as an attempt to crack down on the opposition within Turkey[6][7]. The changes proposed to the Turkish Constitution in the upcoming April referendum are being justified by Erdogan as necessary to combat Kurdish rebels and ISIS, but are seen by many in the Turkish opposition and around the world as a way to extend Erdogan’s power over Turkey indefinitely.

What has resulted is that the European Union, and especially Germany, are now relying on an increasingly authoritarian leader of a country with an increasingly ugly human rights record to enforce a morally dubious deal that is preventing millions of people from flowing into Europe unfettered. The Germans and the EU have found themselves in the unenviable position of needing to both placate Erdogan so that the migrant deal can remain in place, while also exert pressure on him in an attempt to reduce the increasing number of human rights abuses in Turkey, which now include the February 2017 arrest of Deniz Yücel, a Turkish-German journalist for a prominent German newspaper. Yücel was detained on February 14th following his reporting on emails from a leftist hacker which were apparently obtained from the private account of Berat Albayrak, Turkey’s energy minister and the son-in-law of Erdogan[8].

Almost no one on either side is happy with the current situation, and any further deterioration of relations between Germany and Turkey has the potential to destabilize the European Union and Turkey as a whole. The Europeans are relying on Erdogan and the Turks to keep the refugees from overrunning European external borders and causing scenes similar to the ones from late in the summer of 2015, where thousands of migrants streamed through Greece, Macedonia, the Balkans, Hungary, and Austria every day on their way to Germany. Too much pressure or the wrong words from a European leader could likely cause Erdogan to renege on his end of the migrant deal, especially seeing as he is increasingly frustrated with the Europeans for what he sees as stonewalling on their end in regards to the visa-free travel deal. This travel, as mentioned, hinges on improvements in the human rights situation in Turkey, which is deteriorating, rather than improving, as the Turkish government continues to detain large numbers of people in the wake of the coup. Turkey, for its part, still relies heavily on trade with the Europeans—the EU is the number one import and export partner for Turkey, and Turkish exports to the EU were worth over $70 billion euros in 2016 [9]. A reneging on the migrant deal could strain economic ties between the two and cause the European Union to reconsider Turkey’s application to join the bloc, although the Erdogan government has appeared increasingly less interested in EU membership in recent years.

Germany and the EU are likely loathe to be seen as endorsing Erdogan’s referendum by allowing rallies for its passage to be held in European cities, but at the same time must be careful not to push Erdogan too far, which would result in the cancellation of the migrant deal which has allowed the refugee situation in Europe to stabilize for the time being. Lurking in the background of all this is Russia. Ties between Russia and Turkey have warmed in recent years, despite the latter’s NATO membership, and Putin would likely love to drive a wedge into a North Atlantic alliance already weakened by the election of the Eurosceptic American President Donald Trump. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European leaders must tread carefully in the coming months, or they risk further destabilization of an already weakened European bloc.

[1] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39173296

[2] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-referendum-germany-idUSKBN16C0KD

[3] https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/europe-offers-deal-to-turkey-to-take-back-migrants/2016/03/18/809d80ba-ebab-11e5-bc08-3e03a5b41910_story.html

[4] http://www.politico.eu/article/human-rights-groups-warn-eu-turkey-migrant-deal-unhcr-refugees-refoulement/

[5] http://www.politico.eu/article/turkey-stalled-on-visa-liberalization/

[6] http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/12/turkey-failed-coup-attempt-161217032345594.html

[7] https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/08/02/world/europe/turkey-purge-erdogan-scale.html

[8] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/27/journalist-for-german-newspaper-arrested-in-turkey

[9] http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/countries-and-regions/countries/turkey/

The Folly of The Wall

“Build the wall!” “Build the wall!”

That was the familiar refrain which became a staple of then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign rallies throughout late 2015 and 2016. The chants, a fixture at Trump events across the United States, referred to Trump’s signature pledge to construct a border wall along the nearly 2,000 mile border with Mexico and then make Mexico pay for it. This was part of Trump’s broader plan to crack down on illegal immigration in the United States, which Trump argued was necessary to help “Make America Safe Again”.

After his surprising win in the 2016 election, a wall along the US-Mexico border is looking more and more like a reality. Previously dismissed as a vanity project for a long-shot candidate, the wall is now US policy. Now-President Trump began the process with an executive order on January 25th, 2017, which, among other things, ordered the Department of Homeland Security to “immediately plan, design, and construct a physical wall along the southern border” [1]. Subsequently, on January 26th, Republican Congressional leaders stated they expected a request from the Trump Administration for $12-$15 billion to fund the construction of the border wall. Lastly, on February 24th, the Administration announced that the Department of Homeland Security expected to be awarding contracts by mid-April 2017 for the construction of the wall, with the first bids to be accepted around March 6th. After months of being merely a chant, “the wall” looks like it will soon be a political reality.

Unfortunately for the Trump Administration, as well as for the people of the United States, the border wall will most likely do little to solve the overall problem of illegal immigration in the United States or make America safer. On top of that, the construction of the wall will most likely do a great deal of damage to America’s image abroad, and will almost definitely damage short and long term relations with Mexico, one of the United States’ most important allies and trading partners.

The proposed border wall with Mexico is bad policy for a wide variety of reasons, but here are the 4 largest: First, the wall will not stop illegal immigration to the United States, as it will not address those who overstay their legal visas. Walls can also be gone under, over, or around. Second, the wall is a ludicrous waste of taxpayer money at $12-$15 billion, especially for a President who claims to want to put “America First” and spend on jobs, infrastructure, and healthcare reform. Third, although the wall will play well with Trump’s anti-immigration base and Republican voters in general, it will do a large amount of damage to America’s image abroad, and especially damage relations with a neighbor and important partner. Lastly, building a wall does absolutely nothing to address the broken immigration system in the United States (hereafter referred to “comprehensive immigration reform”, which is what the Trump Administration should be focusing its efforts on if it really wants to curb the issue of undocumented immigrants in the United States.

Admittedly, the idea of constructing a large wall along a land border seems at first to be a good solution to preventing people from crossing said border. How can people get in if there is a giant concrete barrier in the way and an army of Border Patrol agents on the other side? Unfortunately, a concrete wall along the land barrier with Mexico will do little to prevent one of the largest sources of illegal immigration in America: people who enter the United States on legal visas and then overstay their visit. According to a 2006 study from the Pew Research Center, around 40% of unauthorized immigrants in the United States had entered from a legal point of entry (land, sea, or air) and then overstayed their visa or entry authorization (while a it may seem errant to cite a study from 2006, this was the last year that good data on this subject was available)[2][3]. More recent data from 2015 from the Department of Homeland Security suggests that of the over 4 million people who entered by sea or air in fiscal year 2015, around 416,000 (about 1%) were still in the country without authorization (DHS does not have reliable date on tracking land entry).

A wall will do little to solve this issue. While it may deter land crossings along the US-Mexico border, it will do nothing to resolve the issue of people who obtain legal authorization to come to the United States and subsequently overstay their visa and melt into the populace. Theoretically, the federal government could attempt to alleviate this by more stringently tracking/hunting down those who overstay a tourist or business visa, but with the recent announcement of Trumps plan to hire 15,000 Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents already facing scrutiny for practicality and financial reasons, extending the responsibilities of an already stretched DHS seems both unlikely and ill-advised[4].

It also must be noted that a wall will likely do little to prevent people from attempting to smuggle drugs/good across the US-Mexico border. There are already many well document cases of tunnels going under the border—

a well-publicized recent example involved a tunnel that ran from Tijuana, Mexico, into Otay Mesa, California, outside of San Diego. The tunnel was equipped with lights, rails for trolleys, and stairs, and was believed to have been used by the Sinaloa drug cartel to move drugs from Mexico to the US[5]. What will a wall do to prevent people from using these tunnels to enter the US illegally?

The overall costs of the wall are another strong reason to against its construction. As mentioned, Congress has estimated the total cost of the wall to be $12-$15 billion (that’s billion, with a b) dollars. This is ludicrous for a number of reasons, the most glaringly being that it seems incredibly hypocritical for a Republican Congress so purportedly interested in cutting government costs to want to pursue a useless, overpriced, pet project of the President. At a time when most centrist Republicans in Congress are bickering over the best way to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act without kicking millions of newly ensured working class Americans off Medicaid, it would seem prudent to redirect the wall funds into healthcare, or perhaps one of those infrastructure projects that the President has seemed so fond of but so far has offered few specifics on.

The third argument against the wall is perhaps a little more nuanced, and it is that building a giant concrete barrier along the southern border with Mexico and then attempting to force a major US ally, trading partner, and friend to pay for it will irreparably damage not only US relations with Mexico but also hurt the image of America around the world. It also has the dangerous potential to further the rise of far-right populist movements in Europe which were ignited by Brexit, stirred by the election of Trump, and have found new fuel with the apparent impending success of France’s Marine Le Pen and Netherlands’ Geert Wilders. It may be cliché, but the phrase “bridges not walls” rings true in this situation. The construction of a wall in an age where the world is moving towards globalization whether people acknowledge it or not makes the United States look petty, isolationist, and uncooperative.

Mexico is the United States’ third-largest trading partner and one of its most important friends and allies around the world. Trump has repeatedly vowed to make Mexico pay for the wall, which Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has repeatedly stated will not happen. Disagreement over the wall and who would pay for it has already resulted in the cancellation of a state visit from the Mexican President early in Trump’s tenure. Further cross-border bickering has the potential to not only further sour relations between the neighbors, but also possibly, within in the context of Trumps broader calls for a border tax on Mexican imports and even a withdrawal from NAFTA, ignite a trade war. Unfortunately, those who suffer the most in a US-Mexico trade war would be not the Trump-opposing, liberal, elite, fake-news consuming, well off residents of the major metropolitan areas on the coasts, but working class Americans in the heartland (i.e. Trump’s base), who would feel the effects of higher prices and a slowed economy the greatest. Funnily (or sadly, depending on how you look at it), Trumps greatest supporters would be the worst off in a potential trade crisis between the US and Mexico which could be potentially be set off by the construction of the wall.

Lastly, and briefly, the wall does nothing to address needed comprehensive reforms to America’s immigration system. So far in his nascent time in office, Trump has appeared to favor stricter enforcement of existing laws combined with the wall. While this may play well with his base, it will do nothing to resolve the deeper issues in America’s immigration system, the most glaring being what to do with the 11 million unauthorized immigrants already in the country (for a variety of reasons too long to list in this short piece, mass deportations are not a feasible, realistic, or humane strategy). The wall also does nothing to address issues related to the incredible backlog for green card applicants, the issues surround H1-B visas, or the myriad other issues facing the US immigration system.

Cheers of “build the wall!” may have helped Mr. Trump get elected, but the building of that wall will do little to help Mr. Trump maintain relations with an important neighbor, reform America’s broken immigration system, or significantly stem the tide of illegal immigration. Whether or not Mr. Trump has the foresight to realize this remains to be seen.

[1] https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/25/executive-order-border-security-and-immigration-enforcement-improvements

[2] http://www.pewhispanic.org/2006/05/22/modes-of-entry-for-the-unauthorized-migrant-population/,

[3] http://www.politifact.com/florida/statements/2015/jul/29/marco-rubio/rubio-says-40-percent-illegal-immigrants-are-overs/

[4] http://www.npr.org/2017/02/23/516712980/trumps-plan-to-hire-15-000-border-patrol-and-ice-agents-wont-be-easy-to-fulfill

[5] http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/12/13/mexico-finds-2-border-tunnels-leading-into-us.html