The 2,000 Mile Wall in Search of a Purpose: Since 2007 Visa Overstays have Outnumbered Undocumented Border Crossers by a Half Million

Author
Robert Warren, Donald Kerwin
Content Type
Journal Article
Journal
Journal on Migration and Human Security
Volume
5
Issue Number
1
Publication Date
Institution
Center for Migration Studies of New York
Abstract
The Trump administration has made the construction of an “impregnable” 2,000-mile wall across the length of the US-Mexico border a centerpiece of its executive orders on immigration and its broader immigration enforcement strategy. This initiative has been broadly criticized based on: • Escalating cost projections: an internal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) study recently set the cost at $21.6 billion over three and a half years; • Its necessity given the many other enforcement tools — video surveillance, drones, ground sensors, and radar technologies — and Border Patrol personnel, that cover the US-Mexico border: former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff and other experts have argued that a wall does not add enforcement value except in heavy crossing areas near towns, highways, or other “vanishing points” (Kerwin 2016); • Its cost-effectiveness given diminished Border Patrol apprehensions (to roughly one-fourth the level of historic highs) and reduced illegal entries (to roughly one-tenth the 2005 level according to an internal DHS study) (Martinez 2016); • Its efficacy as an enforcement tool: between FY 2010 and FY 2015, the current 654-mile pedestrian wall was breached 9,287 times (GAO 2017, 22); • Its inability to meet the administration’s goal of securing “operational control” of the border, defined as “the prevention of all unlawful entries to the United States” (White House 2017); • Its deleterious impact on bi-national border communities, the environment, and property rights (Heyman 2013).
Topic
Immigration, Post Truth Politics
Political Geography
America