Over the past few months, President Trump has been known for bombarding the internet with tweets justifying the need for a wall as a measure to ensure southern border security. On the 16th January, his tweet supported this notion, mentioning that 77 such major or significant walls had been built around the world, and are recognized as close to 100% successful. His speeches are bringing us to a point where sometimes we even start believing that a border wall can be the ultimate solution to the problems at hand.
Border walls have been used time and again, to protect nations from invaders and also to provide the people with a sense of security within their land. But in this time and era, would a mere wall be the savior solution for complex issues like drug trade or illegal immigration? President Trump’s political campaigning has always revolved around protecting the Americans from illegal and even legal immigrants who are apparently stealing their jobs, causing a ruckus in the economy and also bringing along drugs with them. The solution from the very beginning was to build a wall, at the border to stop it. And this even lead to America going through a partial government shutdown which started on 22 December 2018 and continued till the 23 January 2019.
The shutdown was an aftermath of President Trump’s meeting with the Senate Minority Leader and the speaker, for an additional $5 billion but the democrats refused the proposal as they wanted to continue with the existing $1.3 billion funding for border security. This was the second longest government shutdown in the American history where more than 8,00,000 workers missed their paychecks, not ignoring the fact that many of the workers were sent back. Others who kept their job were expected to work without a pay. President Trump at multiple instances, also cautioned that since the issue is of ‘national security’, if the need arises they would call for a National Emergency. This period of partial shutdown, not only put the workers at risk and at a search for their everyday security, but also posed a threat to the food security in schools. Most Americans, have small to no savings, leaving them in a mess of bills, rent and their children’s needs, all the while feeding the members of the family. And all this harm is explained as a cause of building the border wall which seems the answer to the ultimate issues of drug trafficking from Mexico.
According to Border Patrol, most of the Mexican drug cartels bring drugs through official crossings or entry ports.They can also get the drugs across the wall through drones, catapults, cannons or even through mail. Another ignored factor is that the Border Patrol is notorious for bribes, so the very erection of a wall will not solve the issue. Now getting to the border wall, during the campaigning, the wall was proposed to be built of cement. But on the 29th December, Trump’s advisers and allies, taking back their idea of a physical wall stated that the wall was apparently a metaphor for border security, which was contradicted by President Trump’s tweet on the 31st of December, stating “An all concrete wall never abandoned, as has been reported by the media.”
But, the 2000 miles wall the President promised to build, just adds to the existing 654 miles (1,000 kms) of border security at the southern border, out of which 354 miles of barrier is to stop pedestrians and 300 miles is of anti vehicle fencing. The present wall whose construction is in action is a lot similar to the existing barriers and fencing, and it clearly isn’t a concrete wall, but that of metal.
Apart from this, the wall is being built as a method to stop illegal immigration, but according to statistics, since 2007, the number of immigrants who overstay their visas after entering US legally has far outnumbered the number of immigrants who entered the country illegally. A myth following the illegal immigrants is that they don’t pay taxes, which again is disproved because they pay an estimate of $ 11.6 billion per year in taxes, that too without reaping the benefits like other taxpayers. Another issue of illegal immigrants is them stealing jobs from Americans, which again isn’t true as most jobs they take up are the ones Americans themselves refuse to take. Examples of such jobs include erection of buildings, picking American apples or grapes or working as nannies and in industries like the agricultural industry, and the cleaning and sanitation industry.
The support for border wall ignores the statistics that imply that the US has increasing border security since the 1990’s and the border patrol has expanded radically. And yes, border walls are used as means to provide security, but they don’t ensure safety from drugs or immigrants, because that isn’t the path they choose to enter into the country in the first place. So a wall cannot and will not really solve the issue at hand but would rather waste approximately $12 billion – $70 billion, as some of the official and unofficial reports point out. And the $8.5 billion that has been mentioned, is just the first foot ahead financially in this persistent journey of ensuring national security through building walls.
Picture Courtesy- Al Jazeera