Is the Border Wall More of an Ego Issue?


The Great Wall of China didn’t keep the Mongols out of China. The Berlin Wall was destroyed. These are two examples of failed walls. Historically, the idea of a wall doesn’t work. There is a reason that walling off borders hasn’t been in practice as a popular means of keeping people out for over the last century. It has been a long time since border walls have been effective deterrents. Yet, for some reason, there are many people who think that a border wall between Mexico and the United States will somehow manage to keep foreign individuals on their side.

Walls Don’t Work

While there are plenty of walls that have been built throughout the centuries, there are very few that remain standing today. The Great Wall of China, perhaps one of the most famous walls, is still standing. However, walls are not effective in stopping access to the country. It is a mark of design and ingenuity of the Chinese people. It serves as a tourist point of interest and a testament to the longevity of the culture that it represents. Historically, walls have been overcome. It was also refortified a number of times. The Great Wall remains standing but is a reminder of times past. This is because, like many of the other border walls of the past, it didn’t work as a border blocker.

The Purpose of Border Walls

As far back as 2,000 BC, civilizations have built walls. Mainly, they were built to keep out nomadic people. The Sumerians fended off nomads from their borders, but even their wall was overcome. This is because often, while a border wall is impressive and can even be foreboding, it is rarely more of a risk when compared to the reward of making it to the other side. Walls have historically proven to be good watchtower posts, allowing guards to navigate and keep watch over the area beyond the wall. They allowed for notification of impending attack. They are not known to be great when it comes to keeping people out.

The Modern Wall Dilemma

The most recent discussion regarding a potential border wall is by President Trump. His proposition to build a wall has been touted as a way to keep citizens of Mexico out of America illegally. The boundary from the south of America shares its border with Mexico. This boundary goes on for nearly 2,000 miles. Originally, President Trump was seeking a large concrete wall to span the entire length of the border. He has since changed his stance and has opted for a partial build that would both create a complete border wall and fill in the gaps in the current wall.  In 2017, prototypes for the wall were tested, but no direct action has been made to build the wall to date other than some repairs and the first stages of new barrier construction.

Existing Barriers

Even before President Trump entered office, there was already a wall. Nearly half of the border between the two countries is defined by the Rio Grande River. The rest of the border, between Mexico and the states of California, New Mexico, and Arizona have patches of areas that have deterrents. There are just over 650 miles in length of barriers. Nearly all of those barriers are fencing to block vehicles and the rest is pedestrian barriers.

Current Status of the Wall

In 2018, there was a start on building repairs but overall, the project has been widdled down. Funding continues to be denied, homeowners have taken the wall issue to court to prevent building on their property and President Trump still struggles to define what his wall would even look like. Chances of the wall being completed before President Trump leaves office is unlikely. Support for the wall is also dwindling.

What Is the Possibility of Wall Construction?

The border wall concept was a cornerstone of the Trump campaign, and to date, there has been so little progress that many seem to think that the wall will not be built. The fact of the matter is, the whole concept of the wall has caused a rift between Americans. At the beginning of President Trump’s term, Americans approved of the wall. In the years since, there has been turmoil and a number of issues that seem to contribute to a lack of support. Democrats argue that building a new wall is a waste of time and resources. Initial budgeting concerns continue as well. This is largely due to the fact that there is no real price tag on how much the wall would cost.

Prototype Estimates and Cost

Construction crews prepare a set of border wall prototypes along the U.S. border with Mexico on U.S. Customs and Border Protection property near San Diego, California., October 2017. U.S. Customs.

Building costs are higher with each new prototype. Each of the prototypes ended over budget. The prototypes did not meet standards for construction. From them, we learned that steel would be cheaper and they gave an idea of how the process of the building of the wall would look. It wasn’t all bad news. Some of the prototypes are functional enough for future repair. However, they also proved that the building of the wall would be expensive.

Will President Trump Call It Quits

Any smart leader understands when they should throw in the towel. President Trump, a smart businessman in many regards, seems to think that the wall still needs attention. Because of this, he is not ready to call it quits yet. This is causing some people to wonder why he wants the wall built in the first place. Some have suggested that it is because the last major Republican President focused on the border aspect. President George W. Bush constructed a fence for 7 billion dollars. This was not the grand wall that President Trump was asking for and promising the American people when he was running for President.

Will the Wall Solve the Problem?

It is hard to say whether or not a border wall between the US and Mexico will work to solve the issues at the border. There is no singular point of entry where people cross and there are many miles between the two countries. President Trump has said, that to stem the tide of immigrants, a wall is needed.

Just the Facts

There is much to debate on the issue of border protection. Part of the issue is that there is a lot of opinions on the subject, but a lack of understanding of the facts. Illegal trafficking of drugs and immigration are just two of the main reasons that often arise when discussing the border.

Trafficking of People and Illegal Aliens

Trafficking of drugs and people are often reasons as to why stronger border regulations are needed. Interestingly enough, the numbers of people entering illegally from the barrier points in the constructed fence currently are drastically lower than individuals who overstay the visas that they get to enter the US. In the past, there were a number of people trafficked across the border however, the number of people entering the country in this manner has been reducing in recent years.

Drugs From the South

There is no denying that drugs like methamphetamines, heroin, and marijuana are illegally brought into America via the southern border. This is not a new concern. There is approximately 150 million dollars worth of drugs coming across the border annually. This doesn’t mean that a border wall would solve the drug trafficking problem. According to an interview with Gil Kerlikowske, (a former commissioner for US Customs and Border Protection), illegal drugs coming across the southern border enter through established checkpoints in most cases. Additionally, they also are shipped from Mexico to America via international mail.

Refugees and Illegal Entry Into America

Beyond illegal aliens living in America, refugees have been a concern for some proponents of the border wall. Seeking refugee status in America is not a crime. Denying refugees is. There have already been complaints from advocates that the American government has been denying refugee claims, intentionally delaying refugee approvals and making it difficult for those in need to seek refuge in America.

What Is the Real Reason for the Wall?

While President Trump has made some good points about border security, many promises for the building of a border wall have fallen short. Even after declaring an emergency state at the border, no real action has been seen on the wall. The question now is whether or not it will be built in his presidency. It seems more likely that as liberals continue to deny funding for a border wall, it will be difficult to build. Designs for the wall were not functional and no new workable designs are being tested. Perhaps the wall is an ego issue. Perhaps not. In any case, unless it is constructed soon it will be little more than another broken promise made on the presidential campaign trail.