In spite of what Trump tweets and shouts, it’s not just Democrats who know a border wall is a stupid idea, it’s also major conservative opinion makers who don’t want to waste money on a wall.
First, let’s summarize why a wall will do nothing to stop illegal immigration, drugs, and the like.
1. Walls don’t work. Illegal immigrants have tunneled underneath and/or erected ramps up and down walls to simply drive over them. People find a way. When East Germany erected its wall, it created a military zone, staffed by booted, machine-gun carrying guards ready to shoot to kill. Yet thousands managed to make it to West Germany anyway. More to the point, do we really want to model ourselves after communist East Germany?
2. Most illegal immigrants are “overstayers.” They come to the US legally — for vacations, business, to study, etc. — and then STAY past their visas. By 2012, overstayers accounted for 58% (THE MAJORITY!) of all unauthorized immigrants. A wall is meaningless here!
3. Walls have little impact on drugs being brought in to the US. According to the DEA, almost all drugs come in through legal points of entry, hidden in secret containers and/or among legit goods in tractor-trailers. A wall will have little to no impact on the influx of drugs into our country.
4. It’s environmentally impractical. Walls have a hard time making it through extreme weather. For example, in 2011, a flood in Arizona washed away 40 feet of STEEL fencing. Torrential rains and raging waters do serious damage. Also, conservative sources generally do not address the environmental harm that walls create, but there is plenty of documentation available that show its potential for irreparable damage to both plant and animal life.
5. A wall would forces the U.S. government to take land from private citizens in eminent domain battles. Private citizens own much of the land slated for the wall. The costs of the government snatching private land — and the legal battles that would ensue — are incalculable.
6. Border patrol agents don’t like concrete or steel walls because they block surveillance capabilities. In other words, they can’t mobilize correctly to meet challenges. So in many ways, a wall makes their job more difficult.
7. Border patrol agents say, “Walls are meaningless without agents and technology to back them up.” Are we prepared to pour countless billions annually — after the wall is built — to create a nearly 2,000 mile, militarized 24-hour surveillance border operation? Because according to patrol agents, that’s the only way a wall would work. Again, are we really, going to use East Germany, a brutal communist state, as our model here?
Are we seriously going to model ourselves on East Germany and their wall? A 1979 celebration in E. Berlin.
8. Where walls have been built, there was “no discernable impact on the influx of unauthorized aliens.” In other words, they came in elsewhere, primarily where natural barriers such as water or mountainous regions precluded a wall.
9. An unintended consequence is that a wall blocks farmworkers from EXITING when their invaluable seasonal work is done. Farmers are against the wall because it makes getting cheap seasonal labor almost impossible as few American citizens want or can even do those jobs. And if seasonal worker do get in, a wall makes it harder for them to leave! A wall traps migrant farm laborers in our country.
10. Trump’s $5 billion is a laughable drop in the bucket for what would ACTUALLY be needed. For example, according to the Cato Institute: An estimate for a border wall area that only covered 700 miles was originally 1.2 billion. How much did it REALLY cost? SEVEN BILLION. And that’s only for 700 miles. Whatever we think it’s going to cost, experience shows us we have to multiply it by more than 500%.
11. According to MIT engineers, the wall would cost $31.2 billion. Homeland Security estimates it at $22 billion. Given the pattern of spending mentioned in number 10 (plus Murphy’s Law), that means we’re really talking about pouring endless billions into something that doesn’t even work. And, of course, we taxpayers will be footing the bill, not Mexico. Given all the drawbacks, is that REALLY the best use of our taxes?
As the conservatives of the Cato Institute put it, “President Trump’s wall would be a mammoth expenditure that would have little impact on illegal immigration.” Also it would create many “direct harms:” “the spending, the taxes, the eminent domain abuse, and the decrease in immigrant’s freedoms of movement.”
Here’s a list of Conservative Sources Outlining the Uselessness of Trump’s Wall:
The Cato Institute: https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/why-wall-wont-work
Former Reagan staffer and Tea-Party liaison: https://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2011/10/12/the-conservative-case-against-a-border-fence-trying-to-stop-illegal-immigration-with-a-really-big-fence-would-be-a-futile-waste-of-money
Chicago Tribune (conservative paper): https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-perspec-chapman-trump-wall-mexico-immigration-20180314-story.html
The National Review (conservative magazine): https://www.nationalreview.com/2016/04/donald-trump-border-wall-plan-ridiculous-guaranteed-failure/
Nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute (MPI) think tank: https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/borders-and-walls-do-barriers-deter-unauthorized-migration