What’s the best way to spend $5.7 billion for the benefit of American citizens?
Some ideas are building better schools for our children or improving healthcare for the less fortunate. However, President Donald Trump’s main goal is to build a border wall to keep out Mexican immigrants. Trump’s government shutdown to force wall funding temporarily ended on Jan. 25, after lasting for 35 days. With the government reopened for three weeks while negotiations continue, Trump plans to use an emergency declaration to secure funding if he doesn’t get his way.
At the end of the shutdown, there was still no resolution. That’s over a month of wasted time. In addition to wasted time, American citizens suffered from this shutdown; 800,000 government employees went unpaid. A border wall isn’t worth shutting down the government and causing hundreds of thousands of people to suffer financially.
One of the biggest flaws in Trump’s border wall plan is that Mexico won’t pay for it. In Trump’s presidential campaign, he repeatedly promised American citizens that Mexico would pay for the wall. In fact, according to Fortune magazine, Trump has said this at least 20 times since 2015.
However, Mexico hasn’t made plans to pay for the wall. In fact, former Mexican president Vicente Fox Quesada tweeted: “Donald, don’t be self-indulgent. Mexico has spoken, we will never ever pay for the #F******Wall.”
A border wall is a waste of American money. Barriers have already been built along the border. The Secure Fence Act of 2006 has already funded border protection – there’s already fences, surveillance equipment and Border Patrol. Then, by 2011, the Department of Homeland Security reported finishing 649 miles of fencing.
U.S. Border Patrol agent Brandon Judd, head of the National Border Patrol Council, stated that only about 30 percent of the border needs to have a wall. With about 650 miles of fencing in place along the approximately 2000 mile-long border, just over 30 percent has already been built.
On top of the lack of necessity, the costs are ridiculous. The Government Accountability Office found that “single-layer pedestrian fencing could cost approximately $6.5 million per mile.” Also, maintenance costs add up. In 2017, $274 million was spent on border fence maintenance. The current fencing in place covers about 30 percent of the border. So, if the wall were expanded across the entire border, that would more than triple the current cost of maintenance alone.
Along with issues of pricing, the terrain along the border creates both legal and environmental issues. According to an interview with senior hydrogeologist Gary Clendenin for the Smithsonian, “The southern U.S. border alone contains desert, wetlands, grasslands, rivers, mountains and forests — all of which create vastly different problems for builders. The length of this thing presents challenges that just aren’t typically undertaken in a construction project.”
In addition to the difficult terrain, privately owned land and Native American reservations are along the border. For the U.S. government to take over all of the privately owned land, there would be long legal battles. As for the reservations, the Tohono O’odam Nation covers 62 miles of border.
According to tonation-nsn.gov/, a border wall would negatively affect the lives of the 34,000 people in the tribe, “Long before there was a border, tribal members traveled back and forth to visit family, participate in cultural and religious events, and many other practices. For these reasons and many others, the Nation has opposed fortified walls on the border for many years.” The U.S. government would be making many unethical decisions in building a full border wall that would impact thousands of people’s lives.
A poll by Monmouth University states that only 34 percent of Americans support using an emergency declaration to get military funding to build the border wall.
Alexis Lincoln is a third-year majoring in English writings and minoring in journalism. AL892562@wcupa.edu