10 Reasons Trump’s Border Wall, Executive Order Are Terrible Ideas

Border Wall Construction, Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Existing border walls and barriers already impact as much as 70 percent of the Refuge. (Photo Courtesy Krista Schlyer)

Donald Trump is pushing ahead with his baffling plan to build a wall that will run the length of the U.S.-Mexico border, along with an executive order stifling immigration. Not only are they expected to broaden American isolationism and be ineffective at stemming undocumented immigration, they will come with huge costs to American taxpayers and the environment. Here are 10 of the worst aspects of the Trump wall and executive order:

1. The wall is an environmental travesty. From the Pacific Ocean to the mouth of the Rio Grande in the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S.-Mexico borderlands encompass some of our nation’s most compelling landscapes and harbor some of our most imperiled species, including jaguars, bighorn sheep and Sonoran pronghorn. Trump’s wall will divide ecosystems and block anything that walks, crawls or slithers in its path, further pushing these and many other species toward extinction.

2. The executive order runs roughshod over public land managers. Trump’s executive order threatens to destroy cooperation between Border Patrol and public servants who care for our many public lands in the borderlands, including national parks, national monuments and national forests, as well as numerous areas of protected state, local and private lands and preserves. It would significantly increase the damage border security activities do to these fragile, diverse landscapes.

3. The wall is physically impossible. The wall is not a new idea. Much of the U.S.-Mexico border already contains portions of wall, as well as other physical barriers. The existing wall has largely been built under legal waivers — issued by former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff during the George W. Bush administration — including the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act and more than 25 other laws protecting the environment, Native American cultural items and human remains, farmlands and historic sites and antiquities. Walls and barriers have not been constructed in many remaining areas because much of the borderlands are remote and physically imposing.

4. It is fiscally insane (and it will be U.S. taxpayers, not Mexico, footing the bill). Building a border wall will cost tens of billions of dollars, and maintenance on the wall when it fails or is breached, which happens often, adds billions more. Trump has promised that Mexico will foot the bill, but with Mexico already pushing back, the Trump team is now floating a 20 percent tax on imports from Mexico. That means you and I will pay for the wall with higher consumer prices and new taxes.

5. Borderlands residents don’t want Trump’s wall. Majorities of borderlands residents are against the Trump wall because they know it won’t work and will have profound impacts on their communities. This resistance is particularly strong among borderlands tribes such as Tohono O’odham Nation in Arizona, which has villages on both sides of the border and has frequently endured civil rights abuses at the hands of Border Patrol officials. In Texas, where most of the borderlands are privately owned, landowners brought lawsuits against attempts to construct short sections of barriers on their lands during the rush to construction a decade ago.

Photo Courtesy Krista Schlyer

6. Borderlands elected officials don’t want Trump’s wall. Federal and state officials have continually expressed bipartisan opposition to the wall. U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, a Republican from Texas who represents a district with more than 800 miles of border terrain, has said “building a wall is the most expensive and least effective way to secure the border.” At the same time, he says, “Big Bend National Park and many areas in my district are perfect examples of where a wall is unnecessary and would negatively impact the environment, private property rights, and economy.”

7. Americans don’t want Trump’s wall. Polls consistently show that a majority of Americans oppose a wall along the southern border.

8. The executive order would further militarize the borderlands. During the past two decades, borderlands communities have endured intensive militarization, including thousands of Border Patrol agents and construction of checkpoints, encampments, surveillance towers and stadium lighting. Trump’s executive order would further intensify this militarization generally, specifically calling for the construction of new detention facilities throughout the borderlands.

9. The order inhumanely targets immigrants and refugees. Immigration is, of course, fundamental to our identity. The U.S. has long served as a beacon for refugees, asylum seekers and other oppressed peoples across the globe. The Trump executive order would unnecessarily treat these individuals without compassion or restraint.

10. We need comprehensive immigration reform. Border and immigration issues cannot be resolved in piecemeal fashion, yet the Trump executive order continues a long tradition of a unsuccessful efforts to enact comprehensive reform while continuing to legislate failed border security-only approach embodied by laws such as the Illegal Immigration Reform and Control Act, REAL ID Act and Secure Fence Act.

Border Wall Dividing San Diego and Tijuana (Photo Courtesy Krista Schlyer)