Why a Border Wall is a Dumb Idea
Right now, the “president” is using the force of his “will” (in this case, a hissy fit) to use government workers as hostages in his last-ditch effort to start building a wall on our entire southern border, as he promised his moronic base during his campaign.
Trump’s main contention is that a wall is a key to keeping all the “bad people:” out of the country. He should consult with the Chinese and ask them how well the Great Wall of China worked to repel the invading hordes. (It didn’t.) (Source)
The thing is, we don’t have any “invading hordes to deal with, regardless of what Trump and his cult say. Are there some people trying to come over the border illegally? Yes, of course. And are there possibly bad people trying to use our border to do bad things on our people? Of course, there are. However, the vast majority of those who come over our southern border illegally are coming here for a better life. The vast majority of them just want to work and raise their families in a better and safer environment. They are not hordes trying to take over the country, they have a strong desire to live a better life. What good would a wall do, even if it worked?
The answer is, no good at all. However, a wall can’t work to keep people out, under any circumstances. First of all, as Janet Napolitano noted while she was governor of Arizona, “Show me a 50-foot wall, I’ll show you a 51-foot ladder.” She’s right, but even that ignores the number of tunnels and ramps that have been found all over the border fences and walls that exist now. Just in the last few weeks, officials have found at least two partially-completed tunnels under the existing wall in and around Nogales, Arizona in the last couple weeks; it’s been all over the news down here where I live, less than 60 miles from the border. One of them seems to have been a re-do of a wall that was discovered and done away with five years ago. (Source)
If you won’t take seriously the Great Wall of China example, consider the Berlin Wall. After East Germany built the wall, it had to form a military zone to protect it. Machine gunners were placed along the wall and all of them had shoot-to-kill orders if anyone tries to breach the wall. Despite those efforts, thousands of oppressed people escaped into West Germany every year. And really, do we really want to assign soldiers to shoot people trying to come here to work and make a better life? Do we really want to model ourselves after what was once considered the most brutal communist regime back during the Cold War. Is that really a model we want to shoot for? (Pardon the pun)
Besides, more half of all people (66 percent in 2014, to be exact) who are undocumented came here legally and simply overstay their visas. (Source)
Donny also likes to bring up drugs a lot when he’s making his case for a wall. That sounds like a great idea, but the problem with that is, the DEA (who should know) says that almost all of the drugs that come over the border are brought through legal points of entry. In other words, the image of poor Mexicans being used as mules to get drugs over the border secretly is a popular one among the Trump Cult, but the reality is (as usual) a lot different. That means building a huge wall on our southern border will have little to no effect on drugs coming into the country.
Another thing Donny doesn’t mention when shilling for his “big beautiful wall” is that it’s not even slightly practical in many areas. A lot of areas are simply impassable, with terrain that makes it all but impossible to build a wall. Of course, the impassability aspect is a reason why we don’t need a wall. If the terrain is too rough for machines and builders, then the men, women and children who are coming here to escape oppression and build a better life are sure as hell not going to “rough it.”
The damage a wall would do to the environment would be incalculable, as well. There is a lot of terrible and destructive weather in the desert areas along the border and there are numerous incidents in which while sections of the current border wall have been washed away by flooding. Those of us who live down here know that most of the times, the rivers and washes down here are dry most of the time. To outsiders, it looks kind of funny to see big elaborate bridges over washes and rivers that are completely dry. However, if they happen to be here during one of our monsoon storms, and there will be 15 feet of rushing water running just below these bridges and they learn very fast why it’s not silly at all.
Yet, think about that a minute.
If you build a way for water to run without destroying the wall, you have to build an opening, which people will be able to walk through any time other than during a storm. We would essentially be creating a tunnel under the wall that people could walk through most of the time. Plus, there is a good likelihood we will be constantly replacing wall sections. And for what, since most people who will come here illegally will come over the border and simply overstay?
In addition to the possible environmental damage that could be done to the terrain, a lot of plant and animal life native to the area will suffer a lot of irreparable damage, with loss of habitat and the inability to freely travel throughout areas where they look for and find food.
Another consideration with regard to those who own land near the border has to be the fact that many of the landowners are farmers and ranchers, and a wall would make it near impossible for any of them to hire day workers. A lot of farmers and ranchers rely greatly on seasonal labor from across the border, but the prospect of a rancher in New Mexico having to pay for such workers to travel all the way to Texas or Arizona to get them onto their property — or to leave, for that matter — may be too cost prohibitive, which may mean he has to shut down his operation, which most of us would agree is not a good thing for anyone.
It may seem surprising, but a great many conservative and right wing groups, especially those who do business near the border are against building a complete border wall. One great reason is, most of the wall yet to be built is privately-owned land. That means the federal government will have to use eminent domain to take most of the land where Donny wants to build the wall. That’s why most of us laugh our asses off when Trump and his regime estimates the cost of the wall at $20–30 billion. That does not include the cost of the land, and the cost of the litigation they will have to undertake to be able to take the land. Those costs are going to be astronomical and there is no chance they take that land without violating someone’s property rights, in someone’s point of view.
According to MIT engineers, the wall would cost more than $40 billion. (Source) However, even that number is questionable, given that the original 700-mile border fence, which was not at all as “big and beautiful” as Trump imagines, cost $7 billion. Those indicate the $5 billion Donny is having a childish fit over won’t pay for much of anything.
So, there you have it. Our government is shut down and hundreds of thousands of government workers are working without pay, for a wall that won’t work, if history is any indication and for an amount that won’t build much of anything in the first place.
Originally published at The Pragmatic Progressive.