Nobody Believes A Wall Will Stop Undocumented Immigration

In a January 25, 2019, speech, Donald Trump argued on behalf of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border by stating, “Israel built a wall, 99.9% successful, won’t be any different for us.” However, there appears to be a logical disconnect between insisting a wall will stop illegal immigration and at the same time increasing the number of Border Patrol agents. Simply put, if a wall was 99.9% effective in stopping illegal entry, then there would be little work for Border Patrol agents to do.

While the 35-day partial government shutdown ended on January 25, Trump warned he would either shut down the government again or declare a national emergency to get a border wall if his legislative demands were not met. That means the wisdom of building a wall, which was first recommended to then-candidate Donald Trump by political consultants Roger Stone and Sam Nunberg, remains front and center in the debate over immigration.

If those who favor a wall believe in its effectiveness, then we should find evidence that they are also advocating for far fewer U.S. Border Patrol agents. They could argue one of the benefits of a wall is America would need very few Border Patrol agents, since a wall could stop, for example, 99.9% of attempted illegal entry in the United States. Yet if one examines the actions of those favoring a wall and past legislative efforts, there is no evidence that lawmakers (and others) believe a border wall will be effective in stopping illegal immigration to the United States. (This also does not address visa overstays, which are now the “primary way of entering the U.S. undocumented population,” according to demographer Robert Warren.)

In February 2018, the U.S. Senate voted on an administration bill, which failed after receiving only 39 votes, that would have, in practice, mandated a wall or a series of “physical barriers” equating to the wall on which Donald Trump campaigned. Section 1111 of the Republican-supported “Secure and Succeed Act” required the Secretary of Homeland Security to “deploy along the United States border the most practical and effective physical barriers and tactical infrastructure available for achieving situational awareness and operational control of the border.” It included a $25 billion trust fund(Section 1301) to help achieve this.

By Stuart Anderson for FORBES

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