Immigration, or illegal immigration, is not a new topic in American politics. Tackling the issue of illegal immigrants in the United States can be found in eras during Republican President Dwight Eisenhower (with a controversial operation title) after World War II and Democratic President Bill Clinton (which tackled illegal and legal immigration), but this issue has become a hot-button issue because of Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump’s wall proposal.
Trump announced his wall-building initiative during his announcement speech in June 2015.
Trump’s plan does seem to impact the reported largest number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. According to a 2015 Pew Research Center report, nearly half the illegal immigrants are Mexican. However the same research shows numbers declining.
Will a wall work? The actual construction and price tag associated with an effective wall causes serious concern for legitimate completion – and effectiveness.
America has attempted this idea before and failed. This wall was technically a fence, but problems ranged from drastic terrain differences, insufficient protection from climbers and diggers, to abruptly stopping.
The fence failure under the Bush administration, which was a continuation of a 1993 mandate, lead to an HBO Documentary, The Fence (La Barda), questioning the endeavor.
“One of the most confounding and little-known realities of the fence is that it only covers about one third of the 2,000-mile border,” Director Rory Kennedy said, who is also the daughter of former presidential candidate Bobby Kennedy.
Of the reported $2.4 billion price tag from 2009, it was estimated that to maintain the unfinished fence, it would take another $6.5 billion over 20 years to maintain.
The current construction’s actual cost is unknown, as well as what exact materials will go into Trump’s construction. In 2009, the Government Accountability Office released its figures for Secure Border Initiative Fence Construction Costs; that number was estimated at $3.9 million per mile.
Approximately one-third of the border is currently fenced – leaving two-thirds needing to be built, if expansions will happen.
The question remains of, “How much?”, but most glaringly, “Who will pay?” Trump says Mexico will. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto refutes Trump’s proposal and former President has harsher words.
“I’m not going to pay for that f—ing wall,” former Mexican President Vicente Fox said to the GOP hopeful in a Fusion interview.
Recently on MSNBC, Trump threatened war with Mexico over payment, which also may be more expensive than a wall.
But building a wall wouldn’t address the current illegal immigrant population living in America, which is reported by Pew to be between 11-12 million. (Trump suggests deporting all illegal immigrants, which is estimated to cost $400-600 billion – much more than building a wall.)
When looking at the Trump’s proposed wall, there seem to be fewer constants or real planning. Fundamental questions such as who, where, how, etc. are still being argued with no true results. The wall is presenting itself as a barrier from resolving real issues in America.