Increasing border security has been an ongoing discussion in the United States for many decades, particularly in recent months since the 2016 election year. The elected president, Donald Trump, used this matter to garner supporters during his campaigning, and since elected, has still been a proponent with constructing a border wall between Mexico and the U.S. There is a notion from this perspective that with a higher and stronger border, undocumented immigration will halt and supposedly will allow America to be “great again”.
The president elect initially sought for the funding of the wall to come from Mexico, nevertheless, that funding has now shifted to the U.S. Congress paying for it and claiming that Mexico in some form or another will reimburse the costs of the construction. Increasing border security through this “wall” however, will bring even greater conflicting issues such as environmental damage, increase the dangers of the lives of immigrants when attempting to cross, and unreasonable costs to create and sustain this wall.
The effects will negatively impact this nation’s reputation, building this wall is the wrong thing to do even though the “American thing to do” has been to increase border security.
Securing the Unites States border between Mexico has been a developing matter through history since the Treaty of Guadalupe was signed in 1848 that allowed the acquisition of new territory and the Rio Bravo becoming the political border line between these two countries. Movement through this border has always been present, shifting in its increase due to economic hardships whether in Mexico or United States such as the bracero program where the U.S. requested help from Mexican farmers to work their lands due to shortage of labor because of their involvement in World War II . However, Mexican immigration did not end once the war was done. President Eisenhower administration executed the Operation Wetback, “a governmental campaign that forcibly repatriated 1 to 2 million Mexicans [whether undocumented or not]”. Despite the force, immigration from Mexico and Central America has yet continued. Before the 1990’s, immigration crossings in the U.S – Mexico border had waves coming in through urban crossing points such as El Paso – Ciudad Juarez, San Diego – Tijuana, McAllen – Reynosa, etc. Nonetheless, the United States government implemented fence-buildings, closing off these urban crossings points, influencing a change of routes into dangerous points such as Arizona’s desert. With putting up barriers at these points, “deaths in the border region have increased nearly 150% as migrants enter through more remote and rugged terrain” in the last decade and half . Dead bodies of unknown immigrants have been found throughout these harsh geographic areas. As depicted in the picture, these graves show the sacrifice these immigrants will put their lives in. The construction of this proposed wall, will unquestionably further the risks that immigrants will challenge when trying to cross to the United States, still placing themselves through deserts, underground tunnels, and even sea. These environmental situations have been counterproductive to the “securing”, alternatively, creating inhumane barriers for immigrants whose goal is to have a better life on the other side of the border.
The proposed wall not only will create needless dangers to humans crossing attempts, but an environmental effect for the flora and fauna found and living in this region. Wildlife had not been thought through when these fences were implemented having to only take account humans as the focus for these constructions, being “motivated by security concerns that are considered paramount over most other considerations”. Since the border fences and security of the 1990’s, immigration crossings did not decrease but rather shifted from urban areas to the remote areas where the ecology is most concentrated. Research has shown that the fence border that is suited between Mexico and the United States has indeed “disrupted movements and distribution of [for instance], animals such as the ferruginous pygmy owl and bighorn sheep and could isolate small populations of large mammals in Arizona, including black bears and pumas”. By building the wall, it will disrupt evermore the ecology, inhibiting wildlife to move naturally within its natural habitat. Environmental activists and communities have been vocal over the repercussions that the wall will bring to the environment and the dangers that the threatened and endangered species will have to face from this development. Species such as the ocelot and jaguarondi (wild cats) that “are tropical species at the northern limit of their natural habitat range, the barrier would …certainly expedite the disappearance of these species from the U.S.”. However, the Trump administration has ignored these environmental consequences in recent news. Even so this avoidance has been seen during the early 2000’s, where “federal legislation adopted [to sideline] all environmental laws such as the Endangered Species Act” for the sake of not disrupting the “construction of the barriers”. Protecting the environment and preserving species in their natural habitats allows for the ecosystem to flow accordingly, if disrupted, humans will be effected since they’re dependent as well to these natural habitats. It would be selfish and vicious for humans who coexist with these variety of species to construct an artificial border that will knowingly harm them.
The wall project that will stretch 2,000 miles will evidently create more damage but as well be costly and ineffective. $21.6 billion has been a recent cost projection for the construction, with perhaps putting the United States into more debt. This billion-dollar wall will not stop undocumented immigration since those who enter the United States come in with visa and outstay their visit, [outnumbering] those who cross the border without permission. This gives an example of the forthcoming ineffectiveness of this wall that these billions of dollars will go into when comparing it to today’s border fence that hasn’t necessarily stopped undocumented immigrants from coming from the south of the border. Another matter as well, as Josiah McC Heyman explains in their journal, “human smugglers have apparently kept ahead of the government, despite the post-1993 tactical shifts, added technology, and the buildup of forces”. Such as the picture above, these human smugglers or coyotes as they have been named as, have found ways in the last two decades with smuggling unauthorized immigrants into the United States, despite the increase of money and labor that has been put for the “securing” of the U.S. – Mexico border since its construction in 1993. Immigrant individuals or families will give thousands of dollars to these coyotes to sneak them across the border, putting their lives into these individuals’ hands for a better life than the one they had in their home country. In addition, patrolling the extent of this 2,000-mile border wall will need additional border patrol agents. The Trump Administration is considering hiring another 5,000 agents, significantly increasing their budget to hire, train and maintain these agents, with an estimate of $328 million for 2017 and 1.884 billion dollars for the year of 2018. Hiring these much personnel will not come easy, these patrol agent applicants must go through extensive training and tough exams where hiring them can take about seven months. With shortening and easing the processes, however, could do more harm than good since they will not have the adequate training to patrol rough and dangerous terrain. Thus, building this wall as Trump has been consistently vocal about doing will only bring predicaments to the United States economic condition, since this proposed funding will not bring much triumph with stopping undocumented immigrants from coming into the country. With this wall, it would only reflect irrational money waste to the eyes of the national and international public, disregarding other departments such as education and health that would most benefit and outweigh the 20-billion-dollar funding for the greater future of the country.
Most undocumented immigrants who are coming from Mexico, Central America and other South American countries are trying to flee either poverty or violence or even both. It is human nature for people to want to push forward with their lives to seek a better future for themselves and/or families even if it means putting their lives at risk for days in the harsh terrain that this border is located at. Building this massive wall will not stop immigrants from trying to go over, under, or around it, but rather do more harm to the environment, economy and people. The “American Thing Do” has been to spend billions of dollars to not necessarily “secure” our border, but rather to stop people from seeking the American Dream. This nation has been built by immigrants and no shape and form will people stop immigrating to this melting pot of a nation. It is in the nation’s interests to change its perspective on immigration, a comprehensive immigration reform and assistance to these underdeveloped countries would do more justice for its self and other countries.
“Coyotes: Ten Things to About Smugglers.” September 12, 2014. http://latinousa.org/2014/09/12/smugglers/.
Cohen, Deborah. Braceros: migrant citizens and transnational subjects in the postwar United States and Mexico. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina., 2011.
Dear, Michael J. Why Walls Won’t Work: Repairing the US-Mexico Divide. New York: Oxford University Press., 2013.
Donald Trump’s immigration talk faces difficult realities at Mexican border.” August 28, 2016. https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2016/08/28/donald-trumps-immigration-talk-faces-difficult-realities-at-mexican-border.html.
Eriksson, Lindsay, and Melinda Taylor. “Impacts of the Border Wall Between Texas and Mexico.” TW Wall, Obstructing Human Rights: The Texas-Mexico Border Wall, (2008): 1-10. https://law.utexas.edu/humanrights/borderwall/analysis/briefing-The-Environmental-Impacts-of-the-Border-Wall.pdf.
Gaskill, Melissa. “The Environment Impact of the U.S.-Mexico Border Wall: In the Rio Grande Valley, the barrier erected to keep out illegal immigrants is imperiling rare and endangered animal species.” Newsweek 166, no. 8 (February 26, 2016): 54-56. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, EBSCOhost. http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.libproxy.txstate.edu/eds/detail/detail?vid=1&sid=e9e51cd2e42c448e88d8cc5ac3624520%40sessionmgr4006&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmUmc2NvcGU9c2l0ZQ%3d%3d#AN=edsgcl.443631894&db=edsgov.
Gulasekaram, Pratheepan. “Why a Wall?.” UC Irvine L. Rev 2, no. 1(February 2012): 147-192. http://scholarship.law.uci.edu/ucilr/vol2/iss1/6/.
Heyman, Josiah McC. “Constructing a Virtual Wall: Race and Citizenship in U.S.-Mexico Border Policing.” Journal of the Southwest 50, no. 3 (2008): 305-334. JSTOR Journals, EBSCOhost. http://www.jstor.org.libproxy.txstate.edu/stable/pdf/40170393.pdf?refreqid=excelsior:03dcbf2cfb793281ef5abf676db8e150.
Hong, Kari. “The Costs of Trumped-Up Immigration Enforcement Measures.” Cardoza Law Review De Novo 2017, no. 119 (January 2017): 121-154. LexisNexis Academic: Law Reviews, EBSCOhost. http://www.lexisnexis.com.libproxy.txstate.edu/hottopics/lnacademic/?verb=sr&csi=270077&sr=cite%282017%20Cardozo%20L.%20Rev.%20De%20Novo%20119%29.
Hudak, John J., E. Kamarck, and C. Steinglein. “Hitting the wall: On immigration, campaign promises clash with policy realities.” Brookings (2017): 1-18. https://www.brookings.edu/wpcontent/uploads/2017/06/gs_06222017_dhs_immigration.pdf.
Trouwborst, A., F. Fleurke, and J. Dubrulle. “Border Fences and their Impacts on Large Carnivores, Large Herbivores and Biodiversity: An International Wildlife Law Perspective.” Review of European, Comparative and International Environmental Law 25, no. 3 (November 1, 2016): 291-306. Scopus®, EBSCOhost. http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.libproxy.txstate.edu/eds/detail/detail?vid=5&sid=a2835830314f4f338fb9f1660a8db1ff%40sessionmgr103&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmUmc2NvcGU9c2l0ZQ%3d%3d#AN=edselc.2-52.0-84994893895&db=edselc.
Warren, Robert, and Donald Kerwin. “The 2,000 Mile Wall in Search of a Purpose: Since 2007 Visa Overstays Have Outnumbered Undocumented Border Crossers by a half a Million.” Journal on Migration & Human Security 5, no. 1 (January 2017): 124-136. International Security and Counter Terrorism Reference Center, EBSCOhost. http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.libproxy.txstate.edu/eds/detail/detail?vid=4&sid=85afe9ae40a84fbbb240e5d3e1b4af09%40sessionmgr4006&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmUmc2NvcGU9c2l0ZQ%3d%3d#db=tsh&AN=125223798.
 Ibid., 42.
 “Donald Trump’s immigration talk faces difficult realities at Mexican border,” August. 28, 2016, https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2016/08/28/donald-trumps-immigration-talk-faces-difficult-realities-at-mexican-border.html.
 Arie Truwborst, Floor Fleurke and Jennifer Dubrulle, “Border Fences and their Impacts on Large Carnivores, Large Herbivores and Biodiversity: An International Wildlife Law Perspective,” Review of European, Comparative And International Environmental Law 25, no. 3 (November 1, 2016): 292, Scopus®, EBSCOhost, http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.libproxy.txstate.edu/eds/detail/detail?vid=5&sid=a2835830-314f-4f33-8fb9-f1660a8db1ff%40sessionmgr103&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmUmc2NvcGU9c2l0ZQ%3d%3d#AN=edselc.2-52.0-84994893895&db=edselc.
 Lindsay Eriksson and Melinda Taylor, “The Environmental Impacts of the Border Wall Between Texas and Mexico,” TW Wall, Obstructing Human Rights: The Texas-Mexico Border Wall, (2008): 8, https://law.utexas.edu/humanrights/borderwall/analysis/briefing-The-Environmental-Impacts-of-the-Border-Wall.pdf.
 Melissa Gaskill, “The Environment Impact of the U.S.-Mexico Border Wall: In the Rio Grande Valley, the barrier erected to keep out illegal immigrants is imperiling rare and endangered animal species,” Newsweek 166, no. 8 (February 26 2016): 55, Opposing Viewpoints in Context, EBSCOhost, http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.libproxy.txstate.edu/eds/detail/detail?vid=1&sid=e9e51cd2-e42c-448e-88d8-cc5ac3624520%40sessionmgr4006&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmUmc2NvcGU9c2l0ZQ%3d%3d#AN=edsgcl.443631894&db=edsgov.
 Ibid., 55.
 Eriksson and Taylor, “The Environmental Impacts,” 6.
 Truwborst, Fleurke and Dubrulle, “Border Fences and their Impacts,” 292.
 Robert Warren and Donald Kerwin, “The 2,000 Mile Wall in Search of a Purpose: Since 2007 Visa Overstays Have Outnumbered Undocumented Border Crossers by a half a Million,” Journal on Migration & Human Security 5, no. 1 (January 2017): 124-126, International Security and Counter Terrorism Reference Center, EBSCOhost, http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.libproxy.txstate.edu/eds/detail/detail?vid=4&sid=85afe9ae-40a8-4fbb-b240-e5d3e1b4af09%40sessionmgr4006&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmUmc2NvcGU9c2l0ZQ%3d%3d#db=tsh&AN=125223798.
 Ibid., 124.
 Kari Hong, “The Costs of Trumped-Up Immigration Enforcement Measures,” Cardoza Law Review De Novo 2017, no. 119 (January 2017): 140, LexisNexis Academic: Law Reviews, EBSCOhost, http://www.lexisnexis.com.libproxy.txstate.edu/hottopics/lnacademic/?verb=sr&csi=270077&sr=cite%282017%20Cardozo%20L.%20Rev.%20De%20Novo%20119%29.
 Josiah McC. Heyman, “Constructing a Virtual Wall: Race and Citizenship in U.S.-Mexico Border Policing,” Journal of the Southwest 50, no. 3 (2008): 316, JSTOR Journals, EBSCOhost, http://www.jstor.org.libproxy.txstate.edu/stable/pdf/40170393.pdf?refreqid=excelsior:03dcbf2cfb793281ef5abf676db8e150.
 John J. Hudak, Elaine C. Kamarck, and Christian, Stenglein, “Hitting the wall: On immigration, campaign promises clash with policy realities,” Brookings (2017): 8-9, https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/gs_06222017_dhs_immigration.pdf.
 Ibid., 8.