I will interrupt our current series to comment on the border wall and immigration. I’ve written on this issue in the past, so I will offer a few comments here. (See previous posts here, here, here, here, and here)
Many people like to use Israel’s border wall along the Gaza Strip as an example of an effective wall. There are many crucial differences between the Gaza Strip wall and the US-Mexico wall according to the Harvard International Review:
1. The area around the Israeli wall is surrounded by a large desert. The US-Mexico border cuts through very diverse terrain.
2. Human strugglers in Mexico use power tools to cut through the existing fencing. Trump is not pushing to replace the entire border barrier.
If this is not enough, Trump has the difficult legal challenge of getting people to “voluntarily” give up their land. The wall would have to be built on state land, Native American lands, and private property owned by individuals.
Republican Senator Ron Johnson said the Israeli border wall “cut illegal immigration by 99 percent.” Johnson is referring to the Israeli-Egyptian border. The success of this wall is because the wall is heavily guarded. This is only part of the story according to political geography professor Reece Jones. Most of the Israeli fence goes through open, arid terrain, according to Jones, the border wall in Israel is “Easy to access, easy to build, easy to monitor with agents,” according to Jones.
Jones confirms the obstacles listed above.
The Wall’s Building Material will Fail
The CATO Institute is no liberal organization and it says a border wall will not work:
Fences or walls obstruct crossers’ paths, cutting off a straight shot into the interior of the country. But a barrier is not the permanent object that some people imagine. Natural events can knock down parts of a border fence. One storm in Texas left a hole for months. Fences and walls can also erode near rivers or beaches, as the one in San Diego did. And they can be penetrated: Some fencing can be cut in minutes, and the Border Patrol reported repairing more than 4,000 holes in one year alone. They neglected to mention whether that number equaled that year’s number of breaches.
The same article even included this comment by a border agent on FOX News:
Border Patrol agents have told Fox News that a border wall would still “have to allow water to pass through, or the sheer force of raging water could damage its integrity, not to mention the legal rights of both the U.S. and Mexico to seasonal rains.” In 2011, for example, a flood in Arizona washed away 40 feet of steel fence.
One more quote from the CATO Institute:
A 2016 Migration Policy Institute review of the impact of walls and fences around the world turned up no academic literature specifically on the deterrent effect of physical barriers relative to other technologies or strategies, and concluded somewhat vaguely that walls appear to be “relatively ineffective.”
Fences can have strong local effects, and the case for more fencing often relies completely on these regional outcomes. Take the San Diego border sector, probably the most commonly cited success story in this debate.
From 1990 to 1993, it replaced a “totally ineffective” fence with a taller, opaque landing mat fence along 14 miles of the border. This had little impact on the number of border crossers. “The primary fence, by itself, did not have a discernible impact on the influx of unauthorized aliens coming across the border in San Diego,” the Congressional Research Service concluded.
The Real Problem
USA Today emphatically says most illegal immigrants did enter the US by walking across the border:
The majority of immigrants in the USA without authorization first entered the country legally, and then overstayed their visas. The Center for Migration Studies said in a 2017 report that crossing the border is not the way “the large majority of persons now becoming undocumented.” It reported that two-thirds of undocumented immigrants entered the U.S. legally and then simply overstayed their visas. If you legitimately are concerned about the issue of undocumented immigrants, as opposed to just exacerbating and exploiting fearmongering for political gain, then this is where you would focus — not the border.
The same article provides evidence for the following points as well:
1. Illegal border crossings are down. Significantly.
2. The counties along the southern border are among the safest in the United States.
3. The White House is lying about terrorists crossing the southern border.
4. Migrant caravans aren’t “sneaking” across the border, either.
5. Drugs entering the USA across the southern border are most often hidden in legal shipments.
6. Conservative political figures and think tanks think Trump’s wall is pointless.
Here are helpful videos on the subject:
Here is a possible solution in my view (CNBC):
Trump should give up on the wall and terminate the government shutdown.