As I sit writing this letter to the editor, it is Thursday, Jan. 3, and the Democrats are preparing to take control of the House of Representatives and President Trump is digging in his heels, fighting for his wall.
For me, questions are this: What would the wall project cost and what would it accomplish?
This debate does not concern $5 billion. That would be a down payment for a project estimated to cost between $25 and $30 billion and those are only estimates.
The truth is, no one knows the eventual cost because some of the construction would involve eminent domain, which is the right of the government to expropriate private property for public use, with the payment of compensation. That compensation can be litigated and can be very expensive and time consuming. There is the possibility that even if the project is begun, it would never be completed.
There is the issue of feasibility. If the wall were constructed, what would it accomplish?
I believe few Americans understand the situation along the U.S.-Mexican border. The Mexico-U.S. border is the most frequently crossed border in the world. Annually, there are 350 million documented crossings and the border is 1,954 miles long. There are 48 legal border crossings with 330 ports of entry. In August of 2015, the ninth railroad crossing opened between the two nations.
Between these two nations, in 2017, the two-way trade totaled $557.6 billion. This trade cannot be stopped without damaging the economies of both nations. The border cannot be sealed.
So, the question arises, how do illegal immigrants enter the country?
According to the Department of Homeland Security, about half the illegal immigrants to this country enter legally with visas and then do not return home when the visa expires. Then there are the ones who sneak through the legal ports of entry. They hide in vehicles. Though they get the most attention, those trying to sneak through the border at other points are the minority of those coming here, and some of those could go under or over a wall.
I believe the wall would be very expensive to build and would only block a small percentage of those entering illegally, and even with the wall, border security would have to be funded. The wall is probably a waste of time, effort and money.