wall illustration

(Benjamin Irish/Emerald)

When then-presidential candidate Donald Trump vowed to build a border wall in 2015, his supporters cheered him on. However, millions of other Americans dissented. Some recoiled and others seethed. The reality was that the future president’s pledge sparked nationwide resentment towards him.

The president claimed the wall would prevent illegal immigration, drugs and human trafficking.

Trump’s desire to build a wall has since permeated, but he has reneged on his main promise; to make Mexico pay for the wall, which he stated would be 700 to 900 miles in 2017. Trump suggested on Dec. 13 via Twitter  that the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) would compel Mexico to pay for the wall. Yet, there are no references in the agreement to Mexico paying for this wall. That being said, the erection of a border wall will be futile and will squander taxpayers’ money.

A 700 to 900 border mile border wall presents a host of issues, ranging from practical concerns to legal issues. And wall advocates overlook the fact that cartel members will outsmart barriers.

There is currently 650 miles of fencing by the border. Yet Mexican cartel members have found cunning ways to transport weapons and drugs through the border.

Arizona’s sophisticated border fence proved ineffective against cartels’ ingenuity. The members mounted a catapult on the fence and launched hundreds of pounds of marijuana across the border. In January, Texas policemen confiscated nearly $789,467 of marijuana from shipments of key limes.

Bribery remains another concern.

According to the New York Times, nearly 200 of the Department of Homeland Security’s employees and contract workers have accepted $15 million bribes while securing the border in the past 10 years. Court records and internal agency documents revealed that these workers sold green cards, offered sensitive information to drug cartels and averted their eyes when drugs and people were ferried across the border.

A few hundred corrupt employees may seem trivial, but there may be more employees who have gone uncaught. And their provisions of sensitive information to drug cartels could largely expand drug trafficking if these briberies perpetuate at this scale.

Border Protection officer Johnny Acosta aided the smuggle of one ton of marijuana after accepting $70,000 in bribes.

If one Border Protection officer alone can help smuggle a ton of marijuana, imagine the impact of many more crooked officers.

Homeland Security has employed a mixture of strategies to combat this corruption. It has assigned ethics and counter surveillance training, brought in more internal affairs investigators, and implemented polygraph tests to Border Protection applicants.

When bribery becomes ineffective, cartels employ more modern methods to combat fences and guards.

They may use tunnels to pass the wall, such as drug kingpin Joaquin Guzman, known as “El-Chapo.” El-Chapo used a tunnel to escape prison. His cartel, the Sinaloa cartel, has been using these tunnels since 1989 to shuttle both drugs and people. US authorities refer to these thousand-long constructions as “supertunnels.”

Unfortunately, walls and fences are simple, archaic issues unmatched to modern, versatile criminal outfits.

Also, Trump’s border wall would extent to the Rio Grande floodplains, which violate a 1970 US-Mexico treaty. In fact, the treaty precisely called for a ban on barriers being built in that region. And the majority of unfenced areas in the border run straight through the Rio Grande River. According to the treaty, both Mexico and the US must agree to a barrier in the floodplain.

However, Mexico’s new leftist president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, is a vocal critic of Trump.

Lopez Obrador once deemed Trump “erratic” and “arrogant.” The Mexican president also asserted that the wall “goes against humanity” in his Los Angeles rally. Trump’s ability to garner Mexico’s agreement to this floodplain barrier is therefore improbable.

A new border wall will will achieve little given the innovativeness of the cartel members with the varying resources at their disposal. They have so far used catapults, installed sophisticated super tunnels and employed a variety of other methods to transport drugs and people through the border. If modern fencing is unable to ward off the cartels’ sagacity, then how could a mere wall prevent them from infiltrating the States? Increasing border security, given that Homeland Security is diligently trying to weed out corruption, seems reasonable. However, a wall will present no challenges to these seasoned drug lords.


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