As controversy continues to swirl around Trump’s proposed border wall ~ THE Wall ~ along the U. S. — Mexican border, and with 1/4 of the government shutdown over the issue, including 800,000 federal employees now going without paychecks, it is perhaps a good idea to take a step back and look at some salient facts in considering whether or not building this proposed barrier would be a good idea or not. In fact, it’s always best to educate oneself on an issue before jumping to conclusions … as so many on both sides have been doing for more than two years now (at least).
So, what do we have to consider? First, a couple of practical facts:
The length of the U. S. — Mexican border is 3,145 kilometers, or 1,954 miles (take your pick! LOL)
The southern border extends across four U. S. states, including 24 counties, and traverses desert, mountains and rivers, including the 100,000 square mile Sonoran Desert, the hottest of all North American deserts, which extends along the Arizona border over into California, as well as most of Baja California and the western half of the state of Sonora, Mexico.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimated the cost of a border wall at about $22 billion, and would take more than three years to complete, according to an article by Reuters based on the same DHS report.
The Wall is said to be necessary as an effective deterrent to illegal immigration. Here are some interesting facts about recent illegal immigration according to the Pew Research Center’s November 2018 article, “5 Facts About Illegal Immigration in the U. S.” Quoting straight from the source:
There were 10.7 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. in 2016, representing 3.3% of the total U.S. population that year. The 2016 unauthorized immigrant total is a 13% decline from the peak of 12.2 million in 2007, when this group was 4% of the U.S. population.
The number of Mexican unauthorized immigrants (has) declined since 2007, (while) the total from other nations changed little.
The U.S. civilian workforce includes 7.8 million unauthorized immigrants, representing a decline since 2007.
A rising share of unauthorized immigrants have lived in the U.S. for more than a decade. About two-thirds (66%) of unauthorized immigrant adults in 2016 had been in the U.S. more than 10 years, compared with 41% in 2007. A declining share of unauthorized immigrants have lived in the U.S. for less than five years…
Would the Wall effectively reduce the inflow of illegal drugs? This from Politifact, also quoting a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, as well as the co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center.
“Traffickers have a variety of mechanisms at their disposal on how to overcome the wall,” said Vanda Felbab-Brown, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
Some of those tricks are outlined in a 2016 Drug Enforcement Administration report. Mexican Transnational Criminal Organizations “remain the greatest criminal drug threat to the United States,” and their most common method of smuggling drugs remains vehicles legally coming through U.S. ports of entry. Illegal drugs are smuggled in concealed compartments in passenger vehicles or blended with legitimate goods in tractor trailers, the report said.
Smugglers also attempt to get drugs into the United States using catapults, drones, boats and tunnels. At least 225 tunnels were discovered on U.S. borders from 1990 to March 2016, according to the DEA.
“Traffickers have been very innovative in finding strategies to circumvent existing walls and border control thus far, and more of the same strategy (i.e. more of a wall) doesn’t offer much promise as a successful strategy,” said Rosalie Pacula, co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center.
Also of some possible interest might be the sheer number of U. S. citizens involved in drug smuggling across the Mexican border (as compared with non-U. S. citizens.) The Daily Beast ran an article on this subject back in 2013, in which they rely upon reports and statistics from “an analysis of records obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting.”
Of at least equal importance is the possibility, or some claim reality, of terrorists crossing over the southern border into the U. S. Is this true? And would The Wall prevent them from infiltrating the country? The threat may be real. This from a January 2017 Christian Science Monitor article:
From November 2013 to July 2014, officials apprehended 143 individuals listed on the US terror watch list trying to cross the Mexico border and enter the US illegally, according to a confidential Texas Department of Public Safety report obtained by the Houston Chronicle.
And last summer, the US military’s Southern Command warned in an intelligence report that Muslim extremists were using existing migrant smuggling rings in Latin America to gain entry to the US across the Mexico border, according to an account in the Washington Free Beacon.
But significantly, in an interview with White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace pointedly contradicted the claim that terrorists are flooding in over the Mexican border, according to the New York Post:
“Special Interest Aliens are just people who come from countries that have ever produced a terrorist. They’re not terrorists themselves,” Wallace said to Sanders after showing a clip of (Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen) Nielsen’s remarks.
“And the State Department says that there is, quote, their words: ‘no credible evidence of any terrorist coming across the border from Mexico,’” he added.
The 2016 report referred to by Wallace states very clearly:
Counterterrorism cooperation between the Mexican and U.S. governments remained strong. There are no known international terrorist organizations operating in Mexico, no evidence that any terrorist group has targeted U.S. citizens in Mexican territory, and no credible information that any member of a terrorist group has traveled through Mexico to gain access to the United States.
Finally, it is worth noting that there are other proposals for combating illegal immigration, such as that made on Scientia Media back in 2010. This is merely one of many examples, but the point here is simple: The Wall is not the only possible solution to the problem of illegal immigration.