Dear Readers, your Humble Author has a confession to make: the first time the idea of building a big wall to divide the United States and Mexico was presented and considered, it seemed preposterous.
“Physically impossible and completely unnecessary,” were the summary points of that thinking – in those days, some 25 years ago.
But did you know that there was a border wall built between the US and Mexico almost 80 years ago?
In a place now known as Organ Pipe National Monument and UNESCO biosphere reserve in Arizona, the National Park Service wanted to stop damage and disease brought by migrating animals heading north from neighboring Sonoma, Mexico:
“It was not human immigration, but rather environmental concerns that initially necessitated making the border less penetrable in the 1940’s.”
To protect the local environment and livestock, they built a monster of a barrier that still stretches 1,933 miles between the southern United States and northern Mexico:
In 1990, the U.S. Border Patrol began to erect physical barriers in its San Diego sector. 14 miles of fencing were erected along the border of San Diego, California and Tijuana, Mexico. This preemptive action was precipitated by events in 1986, when Border Patrol agents in San Diego apprehended 629,656 people, slightly more than the population of Las Vegas, Nevada!
A year ago, when President Trump ordered the “immediate construction” of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, 46 miles of the 60-mile boundary between San Diego County and Mexico were already fenced – in some cases, triple fortified.
Tijuana, Mexico is on the left; San Diego is on the right
On October 26, 2006, U.S. President George W. Bush enacted the Secure Fence Act of 2006 (Pub.L. 109–367), in the name of national protectionism:
“This bill will help protect the American people. This bill will make our borders more secure. It is an important step toward immigration reform.”
The 2006 Act specified “at least two layers of reinforced fencing.” Highlights of this legislation include:
- Authorizes the construction of hundreds of miles of additional fencing along our Southern border [with Mexico];
- Authorizes more vehicle barriers, checkpoints, and lighting to help prevent people from entering our country illegally;
- Authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to increase the use of advanced technology like cameras, satellites, and unmanned aerial vehicles to reinforce our infrastructure at the border.
In 2011, President Barack Obama stated that “Department of Homeland Security officials told us they have finished 649 out of 652 miles of fencing (99.5 percent), which includes 299 miles of vehicle barriers and 350 miles of pedestrian fence.”
Republican critics observed that, of those 649 barriered miles, only 36.3 miles of double-layered fencing met the 2006 Secure Fence Act’s specifications.
Obama’s speedy come-back to the opposition:
“They’ll want a higher fence,” Obama said. “Maybe they’ll need a moat. Maybe they want alligators in the moat. They’ll never be satisfied. And I understand that. That’s politics.”
Yes, that’s politics. Obama continued his loosey-goosey policy on illegal immigration, to the point where the next Republican president at bat built a successful campaign platform plank out of illegal immigration reform.
The actual, totally serious and completely non-comedic response was that the act was amended in 2007 to allow Border Security agents to specify the type of fencing to use, appropriate to different areas.
Consequently, today, about one-third of the border between Mexico and the United States is fenced or walled. Most of this construction happened in the last 12 years, according to iNewsource – which has published an interactive border wall map.
Evidently, being first in the number of crossings seems to be important to these ports of entry between two friendly nations. Both San Diego and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument claim to see the most human traffic – both legal and illegal. However, border jumping is not a regional competition. It is a serious problem that hasn’t been addressed effectively – until now.
On August 23, 2017, President Trump tweeted:
“Big day planned on NATIONAL SECURITY tomorrow. Among many other things, we will build the wall!”
The British Telegraph article cited above goes on to say that “the border with Mexico is roughly 1,900 miles long and spans fours state: California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. In comparison, the Berlin Wall was 96 miles while the Great Wall of China is 13,000 miles long.”
“Walls historically have never worked — the Chinese wall, the Berlin wall.”
Trump talks about the Great Wall of China a lot. It is an impressive structure, and it is considered one of the 7 Wonders of the Word. Quora writer Harvey King opined that, in its time, the Great Wall of China did work rather well in keeping “invaders” out, until the Mongols invaded from an unexpected direction (the north).
The Great Wall of China
If you want the inside skinny, ask someone based at ground zero:
“The evidence shows that barriers work,” says Pete Hermansen, a 22-year veteran of the Border Patrol and former director of the agency’s tactical and rescue teams.
FOX News went on to dish this quote, regarding the new border wall prototypes, which tower up to 30 feet tall:
“I can’t talk about it,” said a DHS official in Washington. “But the walls were so high we had to suspend testing. It was unsafe. Out of dozens of attempts, one guy made it to the top but he couldn’t get down. We had to bring him down with a cherry picker.”
Border patrol agents say 24 feet might be enough to do the job, and save some expense.
So, Dear Readers, “Physically impossible and completely unnecessary,” might have been true 25 years ago when considering a wall between the United States and Mexico, but times have changed. Technology has marched on. Illegal immigration has gotten out of hand. A big wall plus “legal discouragement” for employers of illegal workers should prove to be very effective indeed in remediating this enormous drain on US resources.
In its place, employment in construction and enforcement is the tangible benefit of an enormous endeavor like this one.
But so much more important is that a physical obstruction to the steady stream of illegals entering the US-Mexico border allows Us the People to reclaim control over our national sovereignty. Reducing the number of newly-arriveds helps while sorting out the illegal immigration situation we’ve got going on here.
“The Great Wall of America” has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? Perhaps – dare we suggest – it might even become the fabled 8th Wonder of the World?
Remember, Americans are Dreamers, too.