Border Wall under Trump Administration

The Border Wall under the Trump Administration

Steven Marshall, Fall 2020

Background

In 2016, Donald Trump became President of the United States. From his election onward, it was clear what Donald Trump’s views on immigration were. His “America First” immigration policy sought to protect American workers and industries. The “America First” program has seven parts to it. The first part of the “America First” program is restricting legal immigration. The second part of the “America First” program is making a border wall with Mexico. There were already security checkpoints along the border between the United States, and Mexico. However, Donald Trump wanted to create a physical wall along the border to keep out immigrants. The third part of the “America First” program is reducing the number of asylum seekers. This means throughout Donald Trump’s presidency, he planned on deporting a record number of asylum seekers, and preventing them from coming into the United States. Other parts of the “America First” program were aimed at preventing immigrants from receiving public assistance benefits, ending DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and deporting any immigrants who were allowed in the country as a result of DACA, restricting travel and visas from certain countries, and reducing the number of allowable refugees. Through his border wall, Donald Trump’s views on immigration are reflected. As disastrous as Donald Trump’s policies on immigration could be for the United States as a country, the border wall could create problems of racism in the United States. [1] [2]

History of the United States / Mexico Border

The United States- Mexico border was created between 1849 and 1855 after the U.S.-Mexico War. [3] [4] The current condition of the U.S.-Mexico border can be looked at as “easily crossed” in many locations. Currently, there are a few problems with the state of the U.S.-Mexico border. First, there is fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border, particularly the part of the border in Texas. All of the fencing supposedly prohibits pedestrian crossing. But, there are gaps in the fencing. This could easily allow undocumented immigrants to sneak into the country. This could also easily allow smugglers to sneak into the country. In regards to smugglers, if a Mexican inhabitant has to stay in Mexico to get the source of the drug, they could transfer a drug to a citizen of the United States, allowing the drug to be smuggled into our country, creating a drug problem.

Second, there are only physical barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border in major cities. More than 600 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border is located in the middle of Texas where there is no major city. Therefore, there is no continuous physical barrier. This issue of unused space is also an economic issue. Considering this part of the U.S.-Mexico border is in Texas, the United States has to fund it. But, if there is no major city here and there thus is no physical barrier here, there is no need for the United States to have a section of the border wall be located here, and there is no need for the United States to fund this.

Third, hundreds of miles along the U.S.-Mexico border are vehicle barriers. These vehicle barriers will stop vehicles of people from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. But, these vehicle barriers will not stop individual people from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Undocumented immigrants, and smugglers could still sneak into the country if there is not tight security preventing them from doing so. There are also private ranch fences serving as part of the U.S.-Mexico border. These private ranch fences are not adequate to keep out undocumented immigrants and smugglers. The team that mapped out the U.S.-Mexico border for USA Today first noticed these private ranch fences. A good portion of the U.S.-Mexico border is either ranch fences or other private structures. The private ranch fences are not federal security fences. All parts of the U.S.-Mexico border are supposed to be federally supported. This is how government officials ensure that all parts of the U.S.-Mexico border are adequate to keep out undocumented immigrants, and smugglers.[5]

Reality of the Border Wall

Throughout history, immigration has been an issue for every president, from James Polk during the Mexican-American War, to the current president. Every president has a different agenda when it comes to dealing with the issue of immigration. Unfortunately for the country, no matter what president in charge of the country at the moment, the issue of immigration has not been dealt with as nearly as efficiently as it should to allow the most immigrants into the country. However many believe the issue of immigration, and letting immigrants into the country took a turn for the worst when it came to President Donald Trump. Before Donald Trump became president in 2016, the U.S.-Mexico border used to provide needed security for immigrants by being a border with fences, and security checkpoints. The fences are meant to be the enforcer in terms of keeping out undocumented immigrants. If they are short enough, undocumented immigrants could sneak into the country by sneaking under the fences. The security checkpoints are to serve as posts where there are security guards. The security guards patrol the U.S.-Mexico border, and look out for Mexican citizens who are possibly looking to become undocumented immigrants by sneaking under the fences. If security guards spot Mexican citizens attempting to illegally seek asylum in the United States, they direct them to the security checkpoints where they must show documentation in order to be let into the United States. [3] [4] [6]

Limitations with the Border Wall

Currently, most of the U.S.-Mexico border along Texas is unfenced. This insecurity along the Texas border is due to two factors. First, there is the factor that the United States government tried to build a border wall along Texas, and the citizens of Texas claimed that the border wall would have been impeding on their personal security. To resolve this problem that the citizens of Texas had, they filed treaties with the United States government, prohibiting the United States government from building part of the U.S.-Mexico border along the border to Texas. Second, there is the factor that there are a lot of floodplains in Texas. The floodplains prohibited the United States government from building part of the U.S.-Mexico border wall here. By legal factors, the Senate, the Supreme Court, and the House of Representatives have to approve every political move made by the president of the United States. The Senate, the Supreme Court, and the House of Representatives could easily overturn these certain political moves by the president of the United States. By geographic occurrences, a hurricane or a storm of the like could appear, and delay construction on this expansion of the U.S.-Mexico border.[5]

Transformation of the Border Wall Under the Trump Administration

When Donald Trump became president in 2017, he wanted to expand the U.S.-Mexico border from its traditional style of being a border with fences, and security checkpoints that have security guards to being an actual border wall. People have called the U.S.-Mexico border a border wall for years. But, President Donald Trump actually wanted to build a wall to physically block undocumented immigrants from coming into the United States, including a priority to build 500 miles of a wall by the 2020 presidential election. To ensure that his wall is built, President Donald Trump has gone to the length of telling his subordinates to disregard any environmental laws while building the wall. President Donald Trump has also told his subordinates that if they break any laws while building the wall, he will pardon them from their crimes, preventing them from being arrested. In addition to the construction of the wall, President Donald Trump has expressed how he would like the wall to be designed. He told the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, and the Department of Homeland Security to paint the wall black, and to install sharpened metal tips at the top of the wall’s barriers.

As of August 28, 2019, more than three quarters of the way through Donald Trump’s presidency, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, and the Department of Homeland Security which are the two organizations tasked with building the wall have only been able to complete 60 miles of the wall. According to the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, the goal of building 500 miles of wall in 4 years is not feasible, and the 60 miles of wall they have built so far is what they consider to be “replacement” barrier. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers are calling it “replacement” barrier, because it was built in areas that already had border infrastructure. It is seeming like President Donald Trump’s vision of a wall to deter immigration is not going to happen. Instead, it is going to be little more than an incomplete “replacement” barrier.

Notes

[1] Office of the Press Secretary. “Secretary Napolitano Announces Deferred Action Process for
Young People Who Are Low Enforcement Priorities,” July 24, 2020.
https://www.dhs.gov/news/2012/06/15/secretary-napolitano-announces-deferred-action-process-young-people-who-are-low.

[2] Amadeo, Kimberly. “The Impact of Donald Trump’s Immigration Policies.” The Balance,
May 28, 2020. https://www.thebalance.com/donald-trump-immigration-impact-on-economy-4151107.

[3] Alvarez, C. J. “The United States–Mexico Border,” March 29, 2017.
https://oxfordre.com/americanhistory/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780199329175.001.0001/acrefore-9780199329175-e-384.

[4] https://www.ushistory.org/us/29d.asp

[5] USA Today. “The Wall – Interactive Map Exploring U.S.-Mexico Border,” 2017.
https://www.usatoday.com/border-wall/us-mexico-interactive-border-map/.

[6] “The Mexican American War.” Accessed November 24, 2020.
https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/grant-mexican-american-war/.

[7] https://www.texastribune.org/2019/08/28/president-trump-wants-border-wall-painted-black-
election-day/

Further Reading

Rachel Osier Lindley, K. (2017, January 10). Border residents worry about being divided by Trump’s wall. The Texas Tribune, January 10, 2017. Retrieved December 16, 2020, from https://www.texastribune.org/2017/01/10/border-residents-worry-about-being-divided-trumps-/

Root, Jay. “Texas Smugglers Say Trump’s Border Wall Wouldn’t Stop Immigrants, Drugs from Pouring across the Border.” The Texas Tribune, January 25, 2018. https://www.texastribune.org/2018/01/25/texas-smugglers-say-trumps-border-wall-wouldnt-stop-immigrants-drugs-p/.

Worcester State University Fall 2020