I’m files  Weighing the Pros and Cons of US-Mexico Border Barrier Immigration Issue Affects Economy, Human Lives and Message to the

I’m files 

Weighing the Pros and Cons of US-Mexico Border Barrier
Immigration Issue Affects Economy, Human Lives and Message to the World

byJennifer McFadyen

The southern border of the

United States shared with

Mexico spans almost 2,000

miles. Walls, fences, and virtual

walls of sensors and cameras

monitored by the U.S. Border

Patrol are already built along

one-third of the border (approx.-

imately 670 miles) to secure the

border and cut down on illegal


Americans are split on the

border barrier issue. While most

people are in favor of increasing

border security, others are con-

cerned that the negative impacts

do not out-weigh the benefits.

The U.S. government views the

Mexican border as an important

part of its overall homeland

security initiative.

Cost of the Border Barrier
The price tag currently sits at $7 billion for border fencing and related infrastructure like pedestrian and vehicle fencing

with lifetime maintenance costs expected to exceed $50 billion.

The Trump Administration and Mexican Border Enhancement
As a major part of his platform during the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump called for the construction of a much

larger, fortified wall along the entire 2,000-mile-long Mexico–United States border, claiming Mexico would pay for its

construction, which he estimated at $8 to $12 billion. Other estimates brought the wall cost closer to $15 to $25 billion.

On Jan 25, 2017, the Trump administration signed a Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements

Executive Order to commence the building of the border wall.

In response, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said his country would not pay for the wall under any

circumstances and canceled a scheduled meeting with Trump at the White House, seemingly straining relations between

the two presidents.

With the possibility of Mexico paying for any part of the wall apparently off the table, the Trump administration used

existing funds to begin construction of a small section of the new wall, along with improvements to existing sections of

the wall in early March 2018.

On March 23, 2018, President Trump signed an omnibus government spending bill dedicating $1.6 billion to the

construction of the remainder of the wall. As he signed the bill, Trump referred to the $1.6 billion as “an initial down

payment” on the estimated nearly $10 billion needed to fence the entire border. The funds will pay for construction of

about 25 miles (40 kilometers) of a new wall along levees in the Texas Rio Grande Valley, as well as repair and upgrades

to existing walls and anti-vehicle devices.

History of the Border Barrier
In 1924, Congress created the U.S. Border Patrol. Illegal immigration increased in the late 1970s, but it was in the 1990s

when drug trafficking and illegal immigration had a major uptick and concerns about the nation’s security became an

important issue. Border Control agents and the military succeeded in reducing the number of smugglers and illegal
crossings for a period of time, but once the military left, activity again increased.

After the September 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S., homeland security was again a priority. Many ideas were tossed

around during the next few years on what could be done to permanently secure the border. And, in 2006, the Secure Fence

Act was passed to build 700 miles of double-reinforced security fencing in areas along the border prone to drug trafficking

John Moore/Getty Images News/Getty Images

and illegal immigration. President Bush also deployed 6,000 National Guardsmen to the Mexico border to assist with

border control.

Reasons for the Border Barrier
Historically, policing borders has been integral to the preservation of nations around the globe for centuries. The

construction of a barrier to safeguard American citizens from illegal activities is considered by some to be in the best

interest of the nation. The pros of a border barrier include overall homeland security, the cost of lost tax revenue and strain

on government resources and the past successes of border enforcement.

Rising Cost of Illegal Immigration
Illegal immigration is estimated to cost the United States millions of dollars, and according to Trump, $113 billion a year

in lost income tax revenue. Illegal immigration is considered a strain on government spending by overburdening social

welfare, health, and education programs.

Border Enforcement Past Success
The use of physical barriers and high-tech surveillance equipment increases the probability of apprehension and have

shown success. Arizona has been the epicenter of crossings by illegal immigrants for several years. In one year, authorities

apprehended 8,600 people trying to enter the U.S. illegally in the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range used for air-to-

ground bombing practice by Air Force pilots.

The number of people caught crossing San Diego’s border illegally has also dropped dramatically. In the early 1990s,

about 600,000 people attempted to cross the border illegally. After the construction of a fence and increased border

patrols, that number dropped to 39,000 in 2015.

Reasons Against the Border Barrier
The question of the effectiveness of a physical barrier that has workarounds is a significant concern to those opposed to a

border barrier. The barrier has been criticized for being easy to get around. Some methods include digging under it,

sometimes using complex tunnel systems, climbing the fence and using wire cutters to remove barbed-wire or locating and

digging holes in vulnerable sections of the border. Many people have also traveled by boat through the Gulf of Mexico,

the Pacific Coast or fly in and overstay their visas.

There are other concerns such as the message it sends to our neighbors and the rest of the world and the human toll of

crossing the border. In addition, a border wall affects wildlife on both sides, fragmenting the habitat and disrupting essential

animal migration patterns.

Message to the World
A segment of the American population feels that the United States should send a message of freedom and hope to those

seeking a better way of life instead of sending a “keep out” message at our border. It is suggested that the answer does not

lie in barriers; it entails comprehensive immigration reform, which means these immigration issues need fixing, instead of

building fences, which are as effective as putting a bandage on a gaping wound.

In addition, a border barrier divides the land of three indigenous nations.

Human Toll on Crossing the Border
Barriers won’t stop people from wanting a better life. And in some cases, they’re willing to pay the highest price for the

opportunity. People smugglers, called “coyotes,” charge astronomical fees for passage. When smuggling costs rise, it

becomes less cost-effective for individuals to travel back and forth for seasonal work, so they remain in the U.S. Now the

whole family must make the trip to keep everyone together. Children, infants and the elderly attempt to cross. The

conditions are extreme, and some people will go for days without food or water. According to the Human Rights National

Commission of Mexico and American Civil Liberties Union, almost 5,000 people have died attempting to crossing the

border between 1994 and 2007.

Environmental Impact
Most environmentalists oppose the border barrier. Physical barriers hinder migrating wildlife, and plans show the fence

will fragment wildlife refuges and private sanctuaries. Conservation groups are appalled that the Department of Homeland

Security is bypassing dozens of environmental and land-management laws in order to build the border fence. More than

30 laws are being waived, including the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

Retrieved from

Updated by Robert Longley

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