Efficiency of a U.S.-Mexico Border Wall
“Build that Wall! Build that Wall!”. This is the chant you hear many American’s chant during rallies and protests for the past several years. The 2016 Presidential Election ignited a renewed focus on the U.S. immigration policies and national security, as it was one of the issues a political candidate ran on. The U.S.-Mexico Border Wall is the largest immigration threat of the two borders of the U.S. The U.S. – Mexico Border consists of one thousand, nine hundred and fifty-four miles of border, consisting of forty-eight counties in four U.S. states (MPI). Along this border are twenty-five official ports of entry to cross into the U.S. The majority of the people come through this avenue (Almukhtar). In 2018, it was reported that three hundred and fifty people cross the border annually, and approximately $229 billion in goods and merchandise (Brandys). The Institute for Defense Analysis that was completed for the Department of Homeland Security in 2015 reported, over one hundred and seventy thousand immigrants were able to successfully cross the border without going through one of the designated points of entry (Brandys). The U.S. – Mexico Border Wall should be built because the overall savings it provides, the safety of the citizens, and the U.S. – Mexico foreign policy relationship.
To begin with the U.S. – Mexico Border wall should be built because of the overall cost savings over time. According to President Trump, the wall is to be forty-five feet high and one-thousand miles long solid concrete wall. Only one-thousand miles of wall is required because of the natural terrain that prevents construction and safe travel by foot along the Rio Grande (Almukhtar). The cost associated with the wall is estimated at $12 billion (Berry). It is determined that building the wall will prevent a minimum of nine to twelve percent of undocumented crossings into the United States. When these people come across our border there are financial implications for the U.S. According to Federation for American Immigration Reform, in 2017, governmental costs for undocumented immigrants were $45,870,474,332 for the Federal Government. The state and local cost were $88,992,981,032, totally a combined national cost of $134,863,455,364. Some will claim that while these are undocumented immigrants, they do contribute to the nation’s economy.
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Which in fact is true to an extent, however, there is still a huge deficit. FAIR states that undocumented immigrants paid a total of $15,447,897,700 in Federal Taxes. And they paid a total of $3,520,960,000 in state and local taxes. This totals $18,968,857,700 total taxes paid. If you take the difference between taxes contributed and the cost of undocumented immigration there is a $116 billion deficit (O’Brien and Spencer). If the cost to build the wall is $12 billion and the cost of undocumented immigrants is $116 billion yearly, then without questions the wall would be an efficient investment. The Center for Immigration Studies published an article about testimony for the subcommittees on National Security of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in 2017. The findings were that a study was developed by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine used the education level of each immigrant to determine their average net fiscal burden, not including any children born in our country while they are here. Even if the wall was able to prevent twelve percent of those illegally crossing our border, that equates to $13 billion in savings (Camarota). That savings is more than the cost of the wall.
The safety of our nation is another one of the major concerns of the U.S. – Mexico border. The job of a country and government is to keep the citizens safe. In the past a border fence had been placed in some areas, trying to detour some of the safety risks, this equates to one-fourth of the border, approximately 700 miles (Brandys). But this does not mean the fence is effective or even still standing. The border has been proven to be a risk for human trafficking and coyotes, the name for the human smugglers. It is common for immigrants to get robbed, raped, tortured and even killed when trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Drug trafficking and the drug cartel are another major safety concern with the U.S. -Mexico border. They are reported they make between $19 billion and $29 billion annually in illegal drug sales. In a 2018 Congressional Research Service Report, about one hundred and fifty thousand homicides have also occurred since 2006 and were all related to organized crime (“Mexico Drug War Fast Facts”). All of these pose security issues for the nation, as well as for those who are trying to cross the border without going through the correct legal process. If a border wall can reduce human trafficking and drug trafficking by saving an additional one percent of lives it would be worth the investment. In addition to the trafficking issues, the current open border allows, in a world where terrorism is a real concern, it places people with bad intentions for our citizens, and our country with an avenue to enter and carryout harmful goals. It is this reason that extreme vetting procedures are in place, but they can only be completed if immigrants have gone through the proper channels. If they come across undocumented, they have not been vetted, therefore could be coming to the U.S. with intentions of doing harm to the country.
Finally, the U.S.-Mexico border wall can help prevent unwanted foreign relationship problems with the southern neighboring country of Mexico. The United States has recently called on Mexico to help prevent immigrant caravans and travelers that have the intent to break U.S. laws by entering the country illegally. Prior to the caravan, there were the infamous tweets between the U.S. President and the Mexican President, over the border immigration and who was responsible for paying for the wall. This created an unfavorable and tense situation between the two nations and the citizens of each nation (Meneses 40).
When the U.S. has to rely on another government and nation to help with our nations safety concerns, and they fail to actively prevent the immigrants from obtaining their goal, then the relationship suffers drastically. Installing a border wall will place the security of the United States in the hands of their own government. The wall provides the added assistance necessary when manpower is not financially feasible or physically feasible to cover every area of the open border effectively. Robert Lee Maril argues that if not handled properly the fence could make the situation worse. Careful consideration needs to be placed on avoiding preconceived conclusions, carefully putting in place new policies both domestic and foreign to address the human issues. as well as. the political implications between the nations. It will need to be carefully implemented to avoid further foreign relationship issues with the Mexican government (Maril). Compromise will be the key factor. While as a nation we want to secure our economy, safety and our relationship with Mexico, we also understand that foreign workers do contribute to our success. Most importantly, immigrants often work as manual and trade labor. The U.S. Labor Force reports in 2016 that 28.9% of the construction workforce were Latino and Hispanic, however, that there has been a decline in these workers as immigration has been decreased, while the actual need for the workers has increased by 20% (Toppin). The labor issue would be a great point of compromise that could benefit both nations.
Overall, while there is a lot of controversy of over the installation of a U.S.-Mexico border wall, the numbers do not lie. It is the responsibility of each nation to take care of their own. The U.S. has every right to protect the nation’s economy and safety. A border wall would accomplish both. It is also important for the U.S. and Mexico to maintain good foreign relations. There are some positive benefits for both nations on some of the issues. Finding the common benefits and terms in which each can compromise will benefit both and will improve the relationship between the countries. The protective measures the wall would provide would make the wall both an efficient and effective investment.
- Almukhtar, Sarah. “Trump Wants a Border Wall. Here’s What’s in Place Already.” New York Times, 4 Mar. 2018, p. A22(L). Academic OneFile, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A529670832/AONE?u=lincclin_pcc&sid=AONE&xid=13b83afc. Accessed 8 Nov. 2018.
- Benenson , Laurence. “The Math of Immigration Detention, 2018 Update: Costs Continue to Multiply.” National Immigration Forum, 9 May 2018, immigrationforum.org/article/math-immigration-detention-2018-update-costs-continue-mulitply/.
- Berry, Frey A. “Donald Trump Says Height of His Border Wall Will Be 35-45 FEET High.” Daily Mail Online, Associated Newspapers, 8 Sept. 2016, www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3758347/Trump-says-border-wall-35-45-FEET-high.html.
- Brandys, Roy R., et al. “United States-Mexico Border Wall: The Past, the Present and What May Come.” Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Journal, no. 1, 2018. Index to Legal Periodicals & Books, db22.linccweb.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsgao&AN=edsgcl.555619709&site=eds-live.
- Camarota, Steven A. “Can a Border Wall Pay for Itself?” CIS.org, 25 Apr. 2017, cis.org/Can-Border-Wall-Pay-Itself.
- Maril, Robert Lee. The Fence National Security, Public Safety, and Illegal Immigration along the U.S.-Mexico Border. Texas Tech University Press, 2011.
- Meneses, Mar?a-Elena, et al. “#TrumpenMéxico. Transnational Connective Action in Twitter and the Dispute on the Border Wall.” Comunicar: Media Education Research Journal, vol. 26, no. 55, Jan. 2018, pp. 39–48. Academic OneFile, db22.linccweb.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ1174604&site=ehost-live.
- “Mexico Drug War Fast Facts.” CNN, Cable News Network, 16 July 2018, www.cnn.com/2013/09/02/world/americas/mexico-drug-war-fast-facts/index.html.
- “The U.S.-Mexico Border.” Migrationpolicy.org, 1 June 2006, www.migrationpolicy.org/article/us-mexico-border/.
- O’Brien, Matt, and Spencer Raley. “The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on United States Taxpayers.” Federation for American Immigration Reform, 27 Sept. 2017, fairus.org/issue/publications-resources/fiscal-burden-illegal-immigration-united-states-taxpayers.
- Toppin, Ian N. “Who Is Going to Build the Wall? A Building Trades Crisis in the U.S.A.” Online Submission, Online Submission, 9 Oct. 2017. EBSCOhost, db22.linccweb.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=ED577443&site=ehost-live.
- “Trend #6: The Economics of the Wall.” Trends Magazine, no. 169, May 2017, pp. 38–42. Business Source Complete, db22.linccweb.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=123430561&site=eds-live.