President Trump’s border wall is not real.
Well, I suppose it might become real — as in, it may physically come to exist — if this whole shutdown-for-funding gambit works. But it is not, will not, and cannot be real in the way Trump describes it. Whether constructed of concrete or steel slats or solid gold bricks mortared with the joyful tears of bald eagles, the wall will not work in the fantastical way Trump says it will. Whatever is or isn’t constructed, it will never be the wall Trump is pitching, because what Trump is pitching is not a border barrier. It is a feeling.
The Wall — and let Trump’s preferred capitalization indicate I speak of his proposal, not any tangible boundary — is a symbol. It is sentimentalism given form, a coping mechanism, and a “monument to an ideology.” The Wall is a way to make Trump and his supporters feel good, safe, accomplished, and protected, but it is not a real policy proposal connected to realistic policy outcomes, as is evident on multiple counts.
1. Barriers already exist in most places on the southern border where construction is feasible and worthwhile. This is demonstrable, as there are photos. These walls and fences cover nearly all the U.S.-Mexico border in California, Arizona, and New Mexico, states in which the land immediately adjacent to the border line is typically owned by the federal government. It is only the Texas borderlands, belonging to hundreds of private property owners (as well as Native American tribes, whose land cannot be confiscated without standalone legislation from Congress), which remain significantly unfenced.
Some of that is about the ownership issue, to which we’ll return below. But logistical concerns are as pressing as legal ones because dangerous, remote terrain would make development difficult, risky, and expensive — just as it already makes illegal border crossings.
2. Barriers can be gotten over, under, and around. Trump himself realizes this, occasionally. “You put that plank up, and you dig your footings, you put that plank up — there’s no ladder going over that. If [would-be immigrants] ever get up there, they’re in trouble, because there’s no way to get down,” he said in 2015 while outlining a plan for a 30- to 50-foot concrete wall which could prove unconquerable by household ladders from Home Depot. Then, as in an unwilling punchline, he added: “Maybe a rope.”
Maybe a rope, indeed. Or maybe a ladder after all. Maybe even a rope ladder! Or maybe a tunnel, as the steel slat fence design Trump tweeted in December appears to show a barrier which does not extend into the ground. The thing about having a nearly 2,000-mile border, much of it running through uninhabited desert, is there’s a whole lot of space to test ingenious new ways to overcome even the most beautiful of fences.
3. Illegal border crossings are not the main source of illegal immigration. While large caravans of Central …read more
Source:: The Week – Politics