The Wall


I’ve been asked repeatedly to write something on the Presidents decision to build a wall between Mexico and the United States.

I don’t see much point in doing so because most people are already polarized into a position on the matter, but I’ll add some gas to some fires.

First of all, this is not a new proposal.

There are already 650 miles of barriers on the border and that is being added to every day…if you were to go down to the border between El Paso and Juarez you would see construction happening as we speak.

It’s hard to get realistically wound up over something that’s already been going on since the mid nineties and, to a degree, before.

The reason it doesn’t stretch for the entire 1900 mile length of the border is because there are significant issues with terrain, environmental issues, and community concerns.

All that and a cost of about 25 billion…

These issues, though very important, are beyond the scope of this article.

What I want to address are the reasons behind the construction of a new wall and whether that wall will impact those reasons.

The reasons I’ve heard are to stem the flow of drugs and migrants and to “secure the border”.

The wall will have little effect on any of that.

The 50 billion dollars worth of drugs we consume annually in the U.S. mostly enter through the same ports that bring billions of dollars of other products in.

How many border agents do you have to bribe or threaten to bring in a load of drugs?


That number will not change with the construction of a wall.

The Mexican migration has been in reverse for years, but should that change, the wall won’t stop migration.

Barriers simply move the points of entry…the last enforcement wave moved migrants to the most dangerous parts of the border and a couple of hundred die in the desert every year.

It will make migration much more expensive and dangerous.

Terrorists have the good sense to fly into the country and avoid dying of dehydration.

The wall itself won’t address the issues people claim to care about, though it will be a boon to defense contractors, the Border Patrol union, and the private prison industry.

No, the wall isn’t about those issues at all…it’s a symbol.

It’s a symbol that says we are closed, that we are separate, we are a sovereign nation and we choose to shut ourselves off from our neighbor.

It makes us feel like we’re safer and in control, that we have locked the back door before we went to bed.

Feelings lie.

The issues that have created the migrations from Central America and Mexico won’t disappear because we can’t see over the wall.

We helped create many of those issues.

They will continue to impact us and at some point, we will be forced to look over the wall…

We either find a way to make their world better or they will come to our better world. … The Border Patrol will grow. There will be a wall. Tougher laws will be passed by Congress. And the people will keep coming.

Charles Bowden, 2006

What the border looks like now…

More pictures from the border…

Before the wall…life along the border...

Bowden on “the war next door”…



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