The Columns

Trump’s “Great Wall:” Just another “Great” Failure in the History Books

— by on November 3rd, 2016

By Brittany Smith ’19

In his 2016 campaign, Trump proposes building a wall on the United States-Mexico border to block out illegal immigrants, but his plans remain ambiguous and destined to fail. The border between the United States and Mexico is 1,900 miles long. Due to an initiative from the George W. Bush administration, 650 miles of the border has fencing to block entry. Trump’s proposal is to build a 1,000 mile wall and let natural landscapes block the rest. Trump sees a fence as inefficient, and he wants to put up an “impenetrable wall,” but that leads to another issue: Is any wall impenetrable?

When asked how he plans to build this wall, Trump replied: “Very easy. I’m a builder. That’s easy. I build buildings that are — can I tell you what’s more complicated? What’s more complicated is building a building that’s 95 stories tall. Okay.” Ali Rhuzkan, an engineer, explains the infeasibility of Trump’s wall: “The challenge of Trump’s border wall is not technical, but logistical. The leap in complexity between ‘building a wall’ and ‘building a 2,000-mile-long continuous border wall in the desert’ is about equal to the gap between ‘killing a guy’ and ‘waging a protracted land war.’”  Trump’s wall plan is only for a 1,000 mile wall, but the plan is still exceedingly complex. Trump, himself, will never build such a wall. The burden will be on the workers, and Trump makes his plan appear simpler than it really is. Trump’s wall will extend over mountainous regions and private property, making the construction nearly impossible and the cost exceedingly high.

The current 650-mile fencing cost the United States 7 billion dollars. Trump is claiming to build a wall almost triple the size, for between 10 billion and 12 billion dollars. The Washington Post estimates the cost of Trump’s wall to actually be around 25 billion dollars, the majority of which stems from the cost of raw materials. Trump’s wall will most likely be made out of concrete. Rhuzkan estimates that a 1,900-mile wall would require 339 million cubic feet of concrete (three times the amount of concrete used in constructing the Hoover Dam)!

Trump only plans to build a 1,000-mile wall, so that decreases the cost and the amount of concrete needed by SO much, making his plan feasible… Not. But hey, no worries! Trump has repeatedly claimed that Mexico is going to pay for the wall. One small problem: Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto adamantly denies that Mexico will supply the funds. The cost is no big deal though; it is only a so-called 10-billion-dollar project, small change like the “small loan of a million dollars” that Trump received from his father.

Historical evidence also proves that Trump’s wall will never succeed in blocking unwanted, illegal Mexican immigrants from entering the United States. Just look at previous great dividing walls, like the Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall, and the Apartheid Wall in Israel. All were failures and drains of economic resources.

Trump often compares his wall to the Great Wall of China.  The Great Wall of China was built by the Ming Dynasty to keep out the Manchurians, but they repeatedly broke through the wall; apparently, a “Great Wall of Trump” would be just like it (so, another failure).

The Berlin Wall, which separated East Berlin from West Berlin, had a similar fate. Approximately 71 tunnels were dug under the wall, 21 percent of which were successful in allowing people to cross from one side to the other. The most famous tunnel, dug in a graveyard, allowed at least 50 people to cross the border before its discovery.

The Apartheid Wall in Israel also failed. It was meant to block Palestinians from crossing into Israel. According to the Israeli Government Special Committee, approximately 15,000 Palestinians without legal permits smuggle themselves past the Apartheid Wall every day in search of employment. Someone may want to inform Trump of these historical, ill-fated walls so he stops comparing his wall (that is supposedly going to be great) to such failures.

In addition, the issue of Mexican immigration to America is dissipating rapidly! Based on a U.S. Census Bureau’s statistic, in 2001, the number of new Mexican immigrants residing in the United States started to drop: “In 2005, it began to plunge, bottoming out at 140,000 in 2010 and has flat lined since then.”  Analysts attribute the steep drop of Mexican immigration to the 2006 housing market crash and the economic recession of 2008.  Many immigrants are leaving the United States and returning to Mexico: “According to the Pew Center’s analysis of Mexican census data, between 2005 and 2010, 1.4 million Mexicans who had previously resided in the U.S. returned to Mexico.”  Mexican immigration is projected to keep decreasing over the next 20 to 40 years unless Mexico can overcome the nation’s issue of decreasing fertility rates.

So, why is Trump trying to build a wall? Trump may just be utterly ignorant of history and Mexican immigration. Donald Trump claims: “My whole life is about winning. I don’t lose often. I almost never lose.” I can speak for most Americans (excluding those that Trump has convinced with his unrealistic ideas), that if Trump is elected, the wall will be a loss. Walls never keep people out, and they lead to unrest throughout the world, illustrated by the Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall, and the Apartheid Wall. Trump and his fellow wall advocates need to look at the history of dividing walls and statistics on Mexican immigration. Maybe then they will see Trump’s wall plan for what it really is, an infeasible and unwarranted disaster.