In a time when we’re oversaturated and drained by endless headlines and “alternative facts”, we are on a mission to support truth.
Let’s start with the basics. Trump has promised to expand the wall along the US/Mexico border. This means that 1,000 additional miles of impermeable concrete border wall at 35 to 40 feet high will be constructed. Trump says the border wall will cost $8 billion and that Mexico will pay for it.
According to Trump’s executive order on the border wall, “It is the policy of the executive branch to secure the southern border of the United States through the immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border, monitored and supported by adequate personnel so as to prevent illegal immigration, drug and human trafficking, and acts of terrorism.”
OK so the wall is basically free and is going to make us safer, right?
Wrong, here’s why:
The wall is more likely to cost closer to $22 billion and Mexico is not going to pay for it: Most estimates suggest that building a 1,000 mile concrete wall reaching 35 to 40 feet would cost much more than $8 billion — more like $22 to 25 billion. Additionally, Trump has said he will fortify the 700 miles of already existing walls and network of surveillance cameras, motion sensors, radars and drones that are already there (a project that is expected to cost around $5 billion dollars). Mexican President, Enrique Peña Nieto has publicly promised that Mexico will not pay for the wall. This means that if Trump builds the wall it will cost each American household $170.
The wall won’t make us safer: There is no evidence that these walls are effective in stopping migrants from crossing the border or as a deterrent to drug and human trafficking, crime rates or acts of terrorism inside the United States. It’s important to note that there has never been a terrorist attack in the continental US carried out by people or using materials transported across the US-Mexico border. According to a 2016 study by the Cato Institute, “the chance of being murdered in a [terrorist] attack committed by an illegal immigrant is an astronomical 1 in 10.9 billion per year.” You are six times more likely to die from a shark attack (the rarest form of death on earth) than from a refugee terrorist attack. Trump claims that undocumented immigrants have increased crime in the US (despite the lowest crime rates in decades) and proposes that a wall will address this problem. However multiple studies highlight the fact that are undocumented immigrants are less likely than US citizens to commit a crime.
Finally, Trump also proposes the wall in order to address the amount of drugs being transported across the border. According to a 2015 US government national drug threat assessment, most drugs enter the US through border checkpoints and points of entry, hidden among more than 5.5 million commercial trucks that cross the US-Mexican border every year. However multiple studies have shown the most effective way to curb drug trafficking is by funding prevention and rehabilitation in the US. According to one such study done by the RAND corporation, funding prevention and rehabilitation is 13 times more cost-effective than spending money on interdiction (trying to apprehend drugs at their point of entry).
The wall harms people and the environment: Current US policies along the border tear families apart, militarize communities, force people to cross into the desert where many die, and ravage economies–creating a devastating human rights crisis. In addition to these human costs, wildlife and ecosystems are negatively impacted by the existing wall and plans to expand it. It is difficult to count the exact number of people who have died trying to cross the US/Mexico border. According to a report by No More Deaths the Border Patrol estimates that at least 6,029 border crossers have died crossing into the United States since the 1990s. However, audits suggest that the agency underestimates the number of border deaths by as much as 43 percent, which yields a death count of over 8,600 people in the US borderlands.
As Trump moves forward to expand the wall at the border, increase deportations of undocumented migrants and claim that his administration is giving VOICE to the real victims of immigration, it is a crucial time to lift up the voices of people who actually live there. We the people! Who are we? What is the social fabric of this country at its edges?