Walls or barriers have been built all over the world throughout history to deter illegal immigration and to divide territory. With territories being so well defined the need to build a structure to show ownership is not necessary in these days and times. In the past it may have been needed due to the party’s unawareness of where one’s land began and ended. It has only recently again become an issue in the for front of people’s mind due to the migration of immigrants all over the world. Would a wall separating the U.S. Mexico border really deter immigrants from crossing into the U.S.? This paper will define what an immigrant is and how many are currently living in the United States. It will also show that crossing over into the U.S. from Mexico is actually more dangerous for the immigrant then it is for the border agents protecting the border. Is the cost of the wall worth the protection/division it provides? Does a wall mean unwillingness to aid or accept others from others countries? Does the site of a wall or knowledge that a wall is there really have an effect on the immigrants thinking of crossing over?
Border Wall & Consequences
During the World War II there was fewer than 5 walls in the entire world (source 1). When the Berlin wall fell in 1989 there was 15 walls in the world (source 1). Today there is about 70 walls across the world (source 1). The Great Wall of China which is 13,00 miles long is usually the prime example people use to show how effective walls are. However, just a few decades after construction the wall failed to keep people out and was over run (source 1). Since the fall of the Great Wall of China section of it have been rebuilt to use as tourist attractions (section 1). Other countries have their own walls suck as India-Bangladesh. This wall is a barbed wire 1,700 miles long (source 8). Berlin wall was built between 1961-1989 and fell in 1990 (source 8). Israel west bank has a 400mile long 20ft high wall (source 8). Saudi Arabia has its own 550mile long wall (source 8). The 450mile long barbed wire fence in Finland was made to keep reindeers from crossing into Russia (source 8). These are to name just a few and not all of them were built to keep people out but most were. A wall is seen as a form of protection to the countries on the inside of the wall.
When we in the U.S. speak of immigrants, illegal or legal, we naturally think of Mexicans who have crossed over the border. However, this is not always the case. There are 44 million immigrants living in the United States as of 2016 (source 1). Of those 44 million only 11.6 are Mexican (Source 1). Most recently the violence in Central American has brought more than Mexican’s to the U.S. Mexico border. The definition as per Webster’s dictionary of immigrant is as follows:
“one that immigrates: such as
- a person who comes to a country to take up permanent residence
- a plant or animal that becomes established in an area where it was previously unknown”.
With this definition you can see that an immigrant is anything or anyone who moves from one location to and unknow location. For Mexican’s or other’s from Central American the moving to one location to another is from their home country to the U.S. to better their lives and the lives of their families. In 2016 69% of the immigrants older than 16 were in the working force (source 6).
There is 1,300 miles still left to be fenced up on the U.S. Mexico border (source 1). The estimated cost to finish the wall is 21.6 billion (source 5). The cost is extremely high and according to our president is well worth the cost to protect the U.S. from illegals who would come here and commit crimes against its citizen’s. According to an article by Kevin Diaz the wall that is the topic of so much debate will not deter immigrants from Central America from coming and attempting to cross (source 7). These immigrants according to this article written for the Houston Chronicle just walk right up to the fence and just wave to the cameras. The immigrants know they will be detained and given a court date (source 7). To immigrants escaping violence and possible death the wall and all the extra agents guarding the wall as well are not a deterrent to not come and attempt to cross legally or illegally. The immigrants see no other way of surviving but to make the 2000-mile journey to the U.S. In 2015 there was 5,604 deaths of illegal immigrants crossing the border (source 1) and between 2003-2017 there was 33 deaths of border patrol agents in the line of duty (source 4). These are only deaths. The fact is that some illegal immigrants are found and saved by border agents. There have been illegal immigrants left in tractor trailers to die, left in the desert, and some are left in the Rio Grande River to die as well (source 3). With all these risks the immigrants take it would seem that this wall is just one more obstacle that they are willing to take on.
The risk is also not an issue for those who do not cross illegally. For the immigrants who flee and are requesting asylum in the United States they are in this country legally and do not face the same risks those crossing illegally do. Yet still these immigrants are included in the immigrant head count. Between the years 2008-2014 the number of undocumented immigrants declined (source 5). There is also a documented number of over stayers in this country who have who came in the country on temporary visas and legal methods and just never left (source 5). These immigrants would now be counted as illegal immigrants and as of 2015 accounted for 4.5 million but would not have faced the challenge of crossing the border wall (source 5). Asylum was granted to about 20,500 and is about 28 percent of those that applied (source 9). Those who do request asylum are detained at any border due to the 1996 IIR and IRA Act (source 9).
It seems that with the wall not really proving any extra security to our border patrol agents as shown with so little deaths while on the job, not being a deterrent to immigrants that are fleeing for their lives, and so many undocumented immigrants here from over staying their legal entry to this country, the wall seems like a waste of money. The wall would only make sense if it was preventing most of the undocumented entries and saving lives of those whose job it is to protect the border. The wall sounds good in theory but history shows us that walls are over run when the need for life is greater than the dangers of crossing it.
Furthermore, building the wall it’s an idea too good to believe it’s ridiculous. For all means constructing this wall could hurt the economy of the United States real bad and build up other consequences that could disrupt the environment. According to (source 10) it explains us how building this wall could effect or could be destructive to the natural habitat, according to “ Bob Dreher an attorney who heads Defenders of wildlife conservation programs.” There are six potential impacts that this wall could create for the environment according to (source 10). One of them is threatening the diverse of landscaping from the Gulf of Mexico in Texas to the Pacific Ocean in California. Which California is one of the nations with most diverse landscape. This wall can divide into two the geographic range of 1,506 native animals and plants which includes 62 species that are listed as critically endangered. Constructing a wall like this it increases the soil erosion. This can cause risk for people and animals by trapping their escape because this alter the natural water flows and patterns of wildlife.
Additionally, another disrupt environmental that can be cause would be creating a problem when it get’s flooded. This wall can exacerbate the flood problems. Like in Arizona when they built the 700 miles fence. On rainy seasons the barriers acted as dams, which cause many floods and millions of dollars in property damage. This border fence that Arizona had built was cause of three floods that are reported in (source10). In 2008 when a 90-minute summer storm causing water to pool to 2 to 7 feet high. In 2011 another flood in Organ Pipe which had knocked a segment of fence and in 2014 in twin cities of Nogales the border barriers where clogged with debris during a rainstorm.
The third consequence is that the wall can put in serious danger to wildlife and plants. We would be disconnecting to 346 different wildlife species. This could raise the risk to their survival by shrinking and cutting off animal populations and limiting their ability to get food, water or even mate. With this wall we can be trapping wildlife from natural disaster like fires and floods. For some several animals like the bighorn sheep that roams from California and Mexico this wall would disrupt their seasonal migration by affecting access to water and birthing sites. Also, the border already has fragmented the population of the Sonoran pronghorn and has diminished the chances or re-establishing the Mexican gray wolf, jaguars and ocelots on the range of the United States.
Dividing the Rio Grande River would affect people that control the lands. For example, they would have to give control over the lands and isolate property and homes. Some of these people are U.S. citizens that live on the Mexican side of the wall. I mean this could cause a problem for these people because they mostly dedicate themselves in agriculture. If their properties or lands are ceded how else would they maintain themselves what would they get in exchange or is it worth what they are getting in exchange. It is said that congress had already approved up to 1.6 billion of dollars for the wall that it mostly going to be built in Texas. That supposed it’s going to be 25 miles of wall on flood control level in Hidalgo County.
Other consequence it would be the disrupting of wildlife refuge and parks. If this wall is built they would have to located through seven Texas wildlife conservations or wildlife parks. This includes the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge and one of the best lower 48 park which is the Big Bend National Park. Furthermore this wall would also affect the National Butterfly Center. There’s about 200 butterfly species in this center and the wall would place up to 70 percent on the Mexican side due to the wall needing to divide 100 acres sanctuary. Also because of some several ferocious objections Homeland security has also plan to build the wall through the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge in Alamo Tx. In this refuge there’s about 400 different birds, banded armadillos and endangered wildcats.
I don’t know much about this but the construction of the wall is also disrupting Environmental Oversight Laws. Such as Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Act Policy Act, Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act. This act where passed by the congress back in 2005 in response to 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Again according to (source 10) this would be the 6 ways the border wall could disrupt the environment.
In conclusion, I believe that this wall is an absolute catastrophe idea it affect mankind, wildlife, plants, trees, water or we can say every natural habitat that the wall can disrupts. It’s a lot of money that is going to be waste when people can still be able to accomplish to cross the wall for one drug lords wont keep their hand tied they would start building more tunnels and that also be use to traffic immigrants. Or like the secretary of Barack Obama said, “Show me a 50-foot wall, and ill show you a 51-foot ladder.”
- Jones, R. (2016, October 5). Migrations Policy Institute. Retrieved March 2, 2019, from https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/borders-and-walls-do-barriers-deter-unauthorized-migration?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIqaPPqNjm4AIVAghpCh28lwOwEAAYBCAAEgI5ovD_BwE
- Merriam Webster. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2019, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/immigrant
- Homeland Security. (2018, July 19). Retrieved March 2, 2019, from https://www.dhs.gov/news/2018/07/19/perils-illegal-border-crossing
- Nowrasteh, A. (2017, November 27). CATO INSTITUE. Retrieved March 2, 2019, from https://www.cato.org/blog/border-patrol-agent-deaths-line-duty
- Warren, R., & Erwin, D. (n.d.). CENTER FOR MIGRATION STUDIES. Retrieved March 2, 2019, from http://cmsny.org/publications/jmhs-visa-overstays-border-wall/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIqr25y_fm4AIVwrfACh3DUQ8CEAAYAiAAEgId1PD_BwE
- Zong, J., Batalova, J., & Hallock, J. (2018, February 8). Migration Policy Institute . Retrieved March 2, 2019, from https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/frequently-requested-statistics-immigrants-and-immigration-united-states?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIwcrVhd3m4AIVhEJpCh0w7QqREAAYASAAEgLnkvD_BwE#Mexican
- DIAZ, K. (2019, January 17). HOUSTON CHRONICLE. Retrieved March 2, 2019, from https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/texas/article/Why-a-Texas-border-wall-won-t-deter-Central-13541575.php
- Hjelmgaard, K. (2018, May 24). USA TODAY. Retrieved March 2, 2019, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/05/24/border-walls-berlin-wall-donald-trump-wall/553250002/
- Cepla, Z. (2019, January 10). NATIONAL IMMAGRATION FORUM. Retrieved March 2, 2019, from https://immigrationforum.org/article/fact-sheet-u-s-asylum-process/
- Parker, L. (2019, January 10). NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC. Retrieved March 6, 2019, from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/01/how-trump-us-mexico-border-wall-could-impact-environment-wildlife-water/