To build or not to build the wall


Source: Wikimedia Commons

Donald Trump’s desire to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border is well-known throughout most of the modern world.

This wall would be about 2,000 miles long, extending from Tijuana to Brownsville, and, according to Trump, be paid for by Mexico.

His plan would have many monetary, political and logistical hurdles to overcome, but even if it succeeds, will the wall live up to Trump’s expectations? What exactly are the pros and cons of building the wall?

Build It!

  1. It would put people to work and help the economy.

Building this massive wall would undoubtedly need a lot of manpower.

NDP Senior Larkin Moore said he feels that the construction of this wall would put many Americans in need of jobs to work: “It could be a good thing for the country. It would definitely put a lot of people to work.”

Some economists predict that the wall would not only create millions of jobs, but it also would stimulate the economy and allow more taxes to be collected.

According to the U.S. Department of Numbers, there were 7,787,000 unemployed Americans in October, a 4.9 percent unemployment rate. The construction of the wall could lower this amount more, allowing more Americans to make money, provide for their families, all the while helping to boost the economy and make the country stronger.

  1. It would protect the culture of the United States.

According to the North American Congress on Latin America, building the wall would secure America’s position in having complete control over the “no man’s land” separating the U.S. from Mexico. Not only this, but a wall would protect the wealth of the U.S. and definitively mark the territory in which certain people belong.

Mexico is substantially poorer than the United States. A border wall would protect against immigrants seeking better economic opportunity and leave those opportunities for the American people to take advantage of instead.

“We should build it to not only stop immigration from illegal immigrants but to preserve our American heritage, too,” freshman Jacob Muniz said.

The wall also would help prevent against major culture shift and help preserve the way of life as it is already. This has been a concern from the time the United States became a country. Today, some Latinos and Muslims refuse to assimilate to U.S. culture, which takes away the great pride we have for what is means to be an “American.”

NDP students get an up close view of the border and the other side during a Kino Border Initiative trip Oct. 10.
  1. Border fences have worked in the past

Despite the common idea that a wall would be completely ineffective, statistics show that a physical deterrent will lower the number of illegal immigrants who traverse the border every year.

For example, in 1996, Congress passed a bill that required the construction of a fence in the San Diego corridor of California along the coast. After four years, the apprehension of illegal immigrants fell by 95 percent as the Mexicans moved further east to avoid the fence, according to the Conservative Review organization.

By this logic, if the U.S. were to build a fence that spanned its entire southern border, the immigrants would have nowhere to go but back to their own country. This fence, of course, is not foolproof, but it would surely inhibit illegal immigration into the United States.

  1. It would reduce drug trafficking

Drug trafficking is one of the most harmful effects of illegal passage into the U.S. Traffickers often use illegal immigrants as transportation for drugs, such as cocaine and marijuana, into the U.S.

According to the website for Immigration to the United States, authorities seized 1.13 million pounds of cocaine and 6.9 million pounds of marijuana in 2005. This was only the amount of illegal drugs seized, likely only a fraction of what truly crossed the border during this period.

Senior Jake Goldring said he thinks that a wall would help stop this influx of drugs: “You gotta stop the drugs from coming into the States. It’s just not good for the people who live on this side of the border.”

Though a wall might not completely solve this problem, it will inhibit the fluid movement of harmful drugs across the border.

  1. National Border Patrol is overwhelmed.

According to Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, “We have the highest number of illegal aliens in custody in history… We are simply overwhelmed.”

These numbers have surpassed 200,000 people and are still growing.

This is not surprising, as promises of possible amnesty in the recent presidential race pulled people from all over Mexico and Central America to the U.S.-Mexico border. The people and equipment that the NBP has at its disposal is simply not enough.

Since border patrol agents cannot be everywhere, this is where a wall could help. An always-present physical barrier could stop illegal immigrants when the agents are occupied elsewhere. As mentioned above, this plan is by no means foolproof, but it will doubtlessly discourage illegals from crossing into the U.S.

Don’t Build It!

  1. Who will fund it?

As Trump stated in his campaign, Mexico will be responsible for the monetary resources needed to build his wall. However, President Enrique Peña Nieto said, “No way” and has flat out refused to accept this. Furthermore, a recent report from Mexico’s finance minister announced a decreased budget of $234 billion for 2017, which does not include the $12 billion needed for Trump’s 50-foot high concrete wall.

“We shouldn’t build it because chances are we will have to pay for it, and it will be a waste of money,” said sophomore Michael Minniti.

So, if Mexico doesn’t pay for it, and Trump decides to go through with construction, American taxpayers likely will foot the bill. Our guess is that many Americans wouldn’t be too happy about this.

NDP students visit the wall in Nogales during a Kino Border trip Oct. 10.
  1. There are too many geographical issues.

According to Business Insider, the wall would have many geographical issues that engineers would have to work around. The wall would traverse through Indian territory in southern Arizona, which could cause some disputes with those living near the border. The wall would also have to have run-off spots to prevent flooding in areas all over Arizona, New Mexico and California.

“I don’t think it’ll work,” said theology teacher Bev Fraser. “It’s not realistic for 2016. It’s not going to achieve his goal.

“The price on humanity is more than perhaps we are willing to pay. He may need to explore other options,” she said.

Furthermore, in California, the construction risks interfering with the sensitive movements of the sand dunes. Not only this, but many conservation groups have sued over parts of the existing border, so building an even more obstructive wall could result in more lawsuits and complications.  

NDP students walk along the border near a town Oct. 10.
  1. Immigrants would just find ways around it.

Building a massive concrete wall won’t stop illegals from getting creative. Former Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer Laura Peña said in a USA Today article that the wall would “fail miserably.” In her many visits to the already existing border wall, she said she has seen several portions blasted out by smugglers, only to be rebuilt with American taxpayer money. What would stop them from doing the same thing?

Another obvious way around it is going under via tunnel. As former illegal immigrant Magdaleno Santos puts it in a interview with The Atlantic, “He can build a wall, but we’ll just build a tunnel.”

Peña says we need to focus on using modern technology and other means of tracking and securing the border from smugglers and illegals. A wall wouldn’t put eyes where they are needed.

“Trump can build the tallest wall that he can, and we will find a way to fly over it, just like birds,” said another illegal who has successfully crossed the border dozens of times.

An one-way immigration gate where deported immigrants go from the U.S. back to Mexico.
  1. Illegal Immigrants work for less than American workers

Many immigrants who enter the country illegally do so to find work, and they often work for much less than the average American. According to, Neal Fisher, a subcontractor said, “… if Bobby [an American] comes looking for a job, he’s going to want $24 an hour, and these guys will do the same work for $12.”

This is a common theme for immigrant workers throughout America who want any job they can get, and it makes a strong case against prohibiting immigration into the U.S. 

If the U.S. were to build a wall, these immigrant workers would not be available to employers in the U.S. This would have a strong effect on the economy, as the vacant jobs would be filled by Americans who expect higher pay than their illegal counterparts.

  1. Building a wall would send unfriendly signals to the rest of the world.

The U.S. has almost alway been a country of immigrants. The nation prides itself on diplomacy and thrives because of international economic transactions. As described by The Huffington Post, placing a physical barrier between Mexico and the United States would jeopardize our relationship with one of our closest allies and trading partners.

A wall on the southern border of the U.S. contradicts the history of this country. This wall would send a signal that is quite literally the opposite of that represented by the Statue of Liberty, which has stood as one of our country’s strongest symbols for a very long time.

Building a wall would also be against Catholic social teachings.

Pope told journalists earlier this year, “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the gospel.”

Last month, he said, “Fear—as well as being a good deal for the merchants of arms and death—weakens and destabilizes us, destroys our psychological and spiritual defenses, numbs us to the suffering of others. In the end it makes us cruel.

He added that the “best antidote to fear is mercy, and that it’s ‘much more effective than walls, iron bars, alarms and weapons. And it is free.”

A wall cuts off this country’s ability to accept the truly desperate people emigrating from Mexico.