Not content with some 500 miles of fencing along the US-Mexican border, President-elect Donald Trump wants to erect a wall over its 2,000 mile length. Preposterous, say critics. It would further divide two nations, two peoples. It would damage wildlife and environment. And would it work, after all, since nothing else has? Opponents may cite the lines from Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall”:
Before I built a wall,
I would like to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
To whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down…
But Donald Trump seems determined to build the wall, no matter who pays for it. He has his reasons. Alone among top US politicians and Presidential candidates, he has talked seriously about stopping the drugs pouring over the border from Mexico with attendant violence and corruption, a far greater problem than immigration which has tapered off.
But how to make it work? It’s all in the details. Traffickers can simply go around current fencing. So a full length barrier makes sense. It would have to be variously constructed to fit the changing terrain – alternating desert, mountains and canyons that often claim the lives of immigrants attempting to cross. A series of walls, really.
By themselves they would not stop inventive drug cartels who have a habit of going over, under or through existing fences with the help of tunnels and catapults among other devices. The wall would have to be properly manned to stop intruders and to facilitate legitimate crossings for business or pleasure. The border divides many families who are accustomed to getting together in a kind of border community.
Nogales, Arizona, is considered one of the safest places on the border thanks to an effective fence and substantial law enforcement. It’s easy to walk across the border there, but traffic is another matter. It can sometimes take two hours to reach the US by car. Maybe some of the American forces now engaged in questionable ventures overseas could be brought home and placed on the border where there is indeed a threat to the country.
There are various obstacles to the wall that would have to be overcome by Trump-style negotiation. With 75 miles on the border in Arizona, the large Tohono O’odham Indian reservation is already unhappy with a border that divides its people. The wall would be even more of a barrier. On top of that, the one border crossing in the reservation has now been closed. The rancher who owns the property on the Mexican side says he is tired of people tramping across his land and locked the gate. American ranchers on the Texas border are also said to be determined to hold on to their property if the wall tries to take it.
Still, if the wall can reduce the drug invasion, it will likely be welcomed on both sides of the border. Which is worse: another partial hindrance to free movement or the continuing slaughter that has led to 100 thousand killings in Mexico in the last several years and growing drug-related homicides in America, in particular Chicago, a prime target of the cartels?
Yet another wall is needed to stop the flow of drug money. The cartels earn some 60 billion dollars a year from US sales which they launder through banks and investments in legitimate enterprises like horse racing and the fashion industry. There is also plenty of cash on hand for bribes, a cartel specialty. For too long, the US Government has looked the other way, failing to pursue and punish those who take part in this enormous criminal apparatus.
So, President Trump, two walls are necessary to stop the drug invasion. Let’s start building.