Do we Really Need a Border Wall?



Border Wall

President Trump is demanding $5.7 billion for a border wall, which he believes will stop the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs through the southern border. However, will a simple concrete wall, used since the 10th century, solve the 21st-century border crisis?

The southern border is nearly 2000 miles long, about the same distance between Los Angeles and Houston. In comparison, the Berlin Wall stretched only 96 miles. In 2006, 670 miles of fencing was set up along the southern border and that itself cost $2.4 billion. Also, the fencing built in 2006 was built on public lands. If Trump builds a wall along the entire US border, it would require the government to buy land from private owners which make up 60% of the border. Estimates show that the total cost of the wall would be about $25 billion to build with $150-750 million to maintain each year. While $25 billion sounds like a lot of money, it would amount to about $80 per person in the United States.

Also in question is the effectiveness of a wall in the 21st century. The current 650-mile pedestrian wall on the southern border was breached 9,287 times. Well-funded drug cartels will not be affected by the wall as a large majority of drugs come in on ships or through legal ports of entry. Also, two-thirds of illegal immigrants in the US entered legally but overstayed their visa. Illegal border crossings are down to less than 400,000 from 1.6 million in 2000. Even the migrant caravan that Trump called as an “invasion of our country” was coming to apply for asylum, a legal way to enter the country. The Trump administration has tried to argue that the southern border is a vulnerable point of entry for terrorists, although the State Department has never caught a terrorist crossing the southern border. Most terrorists were already legal residents in the United States or entered through airports. A wall is also a symbol of separation. In an era where the world is becoming more and more divided, the last thing we need is a literal wall. Only 30 years after President Reagon said “Mr. Borbachev, tear down this wall!”, America is constructing one of its own.

The United States needs a stronger border, but a wall is not the way to do it. Taxpayer money should go to more efficient techniques of strengthening the border such as sensors, cameras, and better technology to detect drugs at ports of entry.