The Need for a Border Wall at the Mexican American Border

Currently, the people of the United States of America are debating how the nation should secure its southern border. The most prevalent argument being whether or not an estimated 1,000 mile long wall across the southern border would be an effective barrier to prevent the illegal activity there. The effective solution to this problem would be a non-continuous wall across the majority of the border, which would not sever any land of Native American Nations, or obstruct pre-existing natural barriers. The United States, as a sovereign nation, has the innate right to protect itself by stopping and examining persons and property crossing its borders under the United States Supreme Court decision U.S. v. Ramsey (1977).

A border wall would be beneficial because it would enable the United States to maintain its obligation to its citizens , to manage what and who enters the country. The smuggling of drugs and people across the southern border has damaging effects on both the people in the United States and those in Mexico. Without increased security at the border, drugs continue to flood into the United States from Mexico. In 2015, the southern border patrol seized a total of 1,555,552 lbs of illegal substances, 1,536,499 lbs of which were was marijuana. This endless supply of drugs takes advantage of the vulnerable and the poor.

People in the United States who are financially and emotionally depressed have easy access to any number of uncontrolled substances, and epidemics of addiction are sweeping across the impoverished population in America. The illegal import traffic fuels South and Central American cartels, granting them more power in a countries with little to no control over their empires. The cartels have a “stranglehold on the Mexican side of the Border”, controlling a majority of the land. Being a great danger, the cartels have the ability to force almost any citizen in Mexico to do their bidding. The threat of the cartel is also the drive behind most human smuggling from Mexico into the United States.

There are very few people who would attempt to cross the border into the U.S alone, and virtually no one would “risk going against the cartel”. Almost all deaths of undocumented immigrants trying to come across the border are a result of smuggling. The lack of security, and control over the influx of illegal substances and persons across the United States’ border with Mexico is plaguing the people of both countries. The practicality of a wall across the southern border is often fought with the argument that it would be a cost our country is in no position to afford. However, when analyzing the estimated cost of the border wall in comparison to the fiscal drain of illegal immigrants on the United States, the wall would pay for itself. If the wall prevented 160,000 to 200,000 illegal crossings in the next ten years –only about 9-12% of the 1.7 million expected to cross in the next decade –the approximate 15 billion dollar cost of the wall would be covered.

A recent study by the National Academies of Science (NAS) found the estimated fiscal impact of illegal immigrants on education to be about $74,722 per capita. If one were to include the cost of United States born descendants of illegal immigrants, the cost would then increase to about $94,391 per person. The lifetime fiscal impact of a person refers to their taxes paid minus the services they have used in their lifetime, and in poorly educated households the National Academies of Science found that families receive far more in government aid than they pay in taxes. The NAS evaluates the tax payments and expenditures on immigrants from Census Bureau data, mainly the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement. These evaluations create eight different education scenarios for both illegal and legal immigrants, each with unique assumptions about future spending, tax rates, and the flow of immigrants. These scenarios are all averaged together by education level, to establish a balanced fiscal impact of illegal immigrants in the United States.

With the cost of illegal immigration on the federal government in mind, and the need for the United States to support a more secure border, the approximate $15 billion cost of a wall across the southern border becomes irrelevant. Many scholars have also found that the construction of a border wall would jeopardize the health of the ecosystems and wildlife at the border between the United States and Mexico. According to Rob Jordan from the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, a continuous border wall could cause “some species to face extinction” if their migrations are completely cut off. The main concern facing these endangered species is that some are composed of populations of relatively few individuals per unit area and that cutting off part of the population from the main group could lead to localized population loss or decline. In order to preserve these species, scientists have posed solutions to help make the wall permeable for wildlife where possible, and are calling upon the public to purchase and restore habitat where environmental harm is inevitable.

The reality of this argument is that these species are only threatened if the border wall is completely continuous, which is not a practical option. With seven Native American nations existing on the border, the United States has no power to force a wall to be constructed on their land. Nations like the Kumeyaay, Cocopah, Quechan, Yaqui, Tohono O’odham, Tigua, and Kickapoo are considered individual, sovereign nations over which the United States government has no authority, unless a treaty is negotiated between the nations. With openings in the border wall at intersections with the Native American reservations, wildlife at the border will have the opportunity to cross freely from country to country. The health and well-being of the hundreds of thousands of human beings being corrupted by the amounts of drugs flooding illegally into the United States via the southern border is a humanitarian crisis and much more of a priority than concerns about the hypothetical elimination of some animals on one side of the border.

The United States Customs and Border Protection has reported extensively about the urgency of enhanced security at the Mexican-American border. Currently, the U.S. has fencing and partial walls spread out across the border, and vast areas are left wide open and completely vulnerable. These barriers are too small and intermittent to be effective in most places, and Customs and Border Protection agents are spread extremely thin trying to manage and funnel people crossing the border through checkpoints so that they can be screened before coming into the United States. Ms. Lubin, a Customs and Border Protection agent, has emphasized that “walls work”. She states that by creating a secure barrier those who work at the border will be able to focus their efforts in designated areas that need the most attention. 

She insists that smuggling across the border will decline significantly. U.S. Customs and Border Protection is able to make these assumptions based on data from San Diego, before and after barriers were put in place. In San Diego in 1992, border patrol agents apprehended 560,000 illegal immigrants along a sixty mile stretch of the border -. In 1992 there were very few barriers, lights, cameras, and agents at the border, In 2006, when the United States Federal Government decided to put borders walls in place, illegal immigrant apprehensions dropped from 560,000 to 68,000. That is an 88% drop directly attributable to a border wall. The partial border wall that is being proposed would have a great impact on the surge of illegal crossing and smuggling from Mexico into the united States. Along with a border wall, other supports such as dogs and devices that the agency has requested, should be provided to the United States Customs and Border Patrol in order to assist them in their work disrupting illegal activity at the border.

Although a wall wouldn’t solve the issues the United States has with illegal immigration, it would create designated checkpoints for people and goods to enter ensuring a safer environment for all people living in the United States of America, and it would limit the power and reach of the cartels, freeing citizens of countries to our South from persecution. A border wall would be a benefit for American citizens in carrying out the United States’ obligation to its people, to manage what enters into the country. The safety and wellbeing of its citizens should be the primary concern of the United States of America. In 2017, more than 70,000 americans died of drug overdoses. The previous year, reportedly 99.8% of all illegal drugs in America came in through the U.S and Mexican border. The United States of America has a legal mandate to manage and control what comes into its country. Establishing a barrier at the southern border is not a matter of morals or eliminating immigrants. The United States is one of the most integrated and accepting countries in the world. A partial border wall would be an important step in creating an environment within the United States, especially in places with higher rates of poverty, where drugs do not flood the streets of struggling neighborhoods and subjugate the nation’s citizens.

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