(This article by Joe Alton first appeared in The Daily Caller)
Recently, President Donald Trump signed executive orders calling for the building of a wall on our southern border, as well as an expansion of border patrol forces and immigration officers. Bids are coming in from construction firms, but will a wall ever get built? Or is the wall, or the mere idea of it, too big an obstacle to hurdle?
The president has said: “Beginning today, the United States of America gets back control of its borders…”
Actual border control? This radical notion elicited cries of outrage from Democrats throughout the nation. Political cartoonists drew the Statue of Liberty in tears. Leftist activists recoiled in horror and spoke about forlorn, big-eyed “Dreamers” as if they were being slated for execution (even though Trump has no plans to even deport them).
Of course, those lamenting the “mean-spirited” efforts to fortify the border apparently don’t consider the drug cartels flooding the U.S. with opioids and cocaine mean-spirited at all. Nor do they appear to consider mean-spirited those felons who contribute to sanctuary cities’ crime and murder rates.
With regards to immigration, there is one thing that really matters to the Left: Most illegal immigrants end up as Democrat voters. Therefore, the floodgates must be kept open. A wall? Fuggedaboutit.
Faced with the realization that their reliable source of new voters may be in jeopardy, the Left is gearing up for a battle to prevent a border wall being built. Liberals are developing a number of arguments and strategies to help them accomplish this goal.
You will hear Democrats say that a border wall would have no effect on drugs and people entering the country illegally. This is simply not true, as evidenced by statements given recently by border officers to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security. These agents say that the 2006 building of a border fence near Yuma, Arizona had a significant effect on illegal immigration.
Before the fence was built, the Yuma region recorded more than 2,700 successful vehicle passages with unknown quantities of drugs and people; afterwards, just 6. Illegal border crossers, from 138,000 before the fence to 8,363 after. These statistics should be proof to those “on the fence” about Trump’s wall clear that a barrier may, indeed, be an effective deterrent.
You will also hear media and celebrities bemoaning the “eco-apocalypse” that will occur as a result of building a wall. Jeff Corwin of “Animal Planet” considers border barriers a catastrophe that will endanger just about everything that walks, crawls, or even flies. Yes, environmentalists seem to believe that birds will become endangered by a wall they can fly over (are they referring to the rare Mexican ostrich?).
The strategy is to sue for environmental impact studies that will delay construction until a Democrat president stops the mass extinction. The Center for Biological Diversity has already filed such a suit in the courts. It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that these studies will claim that the wall will negatively impact everything that draws breath. Don’t expect any mention, however, of the impact that trash from drug traffickers and hundreds of thousands of illegals has had on the pristine wilderness.
You will hear many property owners discuss their fear at being victims of the “eminent domain” process. That is, the purchasing of land by the government for public works, such as a border barrier. Assuming that a substantial number voted for Hillary Clinton, you can imagine what happens when thousands of them are solicited by Left-leaning lawyers to “save their homes” by suing.
Speaking of property owners, some of the land needed for the wall is owned by Native American tribes who consider eminent domain a violation of their sovereignty as a nation. The Washington Post suggests that it would take a bill in Congress to acquire the property. Add in the lands owned by states that didn’t vote for Donald Trump (California, New Mexico), and that’s a whole lot of lawsuits.
Additionally, you will hear cost analyses that make the wall seem unacceptably expensive. Considering that illegal immigration costs the U.S. $113 billion a year, estimates of 21 billion total for construction seems like a bargain. By the way, don’t expect Mexico to pay for the wall, other than, perhaps, indirectly through a border adjustment tax. If you think the wall is a good idea, decide that it’s worth paying for.
So, will a wall ever get built? Possibly, but supporters of a barrier should be flexible. Some environmental fears might be allayed by having the wall be a fence. Before you rise up in anger at the idea, consider that a barrier fence wouldn’t be made of chicken wire. It would be concrete, steel, and rebar, 18 feet tall, and 6 or more feet deep in the ground (to prevent tunneling). This kind of fence is, in reality, a wall. Many border agents prefer this kind of barrier to a solid wall you can’t see though. Another plus is that it might be less expensive to build.
What won’t cost less money is dealing with the many property owners that will balk at the request to acquire their lands. In these circumstances, the government will prevail eventually, but the old strategy of offering more money than the land is worth might grease the wheels of progress on the wall’s construction. In addition, building monitored bridges to populated areas cut off by the wall could go a long way to decreasing resistance to the project.
There are many barriers to building a barrier, it seems. Whether a border wall ever gets built will depend on the patience, fortitude, and perhaps, flexibility of its supporters.