The Wall by the Numbers
How long is the border? How much wall needs to be built? Will it be effective?
Historian Victor Davis Hanson recently wrote, “There are 11 million to 13 million Mexican citizens currently living in the United States illegally.” (It may be closer to 22 million.) He continued, “Millions more emigrated previously and are now U.S. citizens. A recent poll revealed that one-third of Mexicans (34 percent) would like to emigrate to the United States. With Mexico having a population of about 130 million, that amounts to some 44 million would-be immigrants. Such massive potential emigration into the United States makes no sense.”
Currently, the number of individual border apprehensions is decreasing, but the number of families crossing the border is increasing. This is due to the poor economic conditions and unstable political climate of Central American countries. The Washington Post reports that the percentage of border crossers that are families has increased from 55% to 64% in recent months.
The border runs for about 2,000 miles, nearly half of it running along the Rio Grande. In other areas, mountainous terrain makes it challenging to construct a wall. A wall, then, would be very helpful but would not alone solve the problem.
“Nearly half of all the unauthorized migrants now living in the United States entered the country legally through a port of entry such as an airport or a border crossing point where they were subject to inspection by immigration officials,” according to a Pew Research Center study. “As much as 45% of the total unauthorized migrant population entered the country with visas that allowed them to visit or reside in the U.S. for a limited amount of time.”
This prompts the question: Do we really need a literal wall stretching for 2,000 miles?
In April 2017, the president of the National Border Patrol Council, Brandon Judd, testified before Congress, “I will not advocate for 2,000 miles’ worth of border. That is just not necessary. But what I will advocate for is a border wall in strategic locations, which helps us secure the border. … The building of barriers and large fences, a bipartisan effort, allowed agents in part to dictate where illegal crossings took place and doubled how effective I was able to be in apprehending illegal border crossers.”
About one third of the 2,000-mile border already includes some type of barrier due to the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which mandated nearly 700 miles of border fencing. Nearly all of that is already in place, but there are long stretches where the border is wide open. And since nearly 12 million people live along the border, the impact of illegal immigration is immediate and serious. As the president mentioned in his recent address to the nation, it’s not just about illegals taking American jobs but also about the flow of drugs across the border.
Jim Geraghty at National Review writes, “The good news for those who wish to see a wall built along the U.S.-Mexican border is that U.S. Customs and Border Protection has built seven miles of 30-foot-high wall in the past few months, and roughly 30 more miles of high fencing are slated for construction. The bad news is that there’s still a lot of border to go.”
As of now, the funding isn’t there.
Carlos Ballesteros wrote at Newsweek early last year, “Nearly a year into his presidency, Trump has not been able to secure the funding — or the support — he needs to build his border wall.” He adds, “The border wall has become a serious wedge between Democrats and Republicans.” Twenty-eight days into a partial government shutdown over its funding, that’s an understatement.
But what the president wants is reasonable.
Despite the fact that we have a third of the wall built, Stef W. Kight writes at Axios, “That still leaves more than half of the almost 2,000-mile border uncovered, and there are gaps and dilapidated fencing in the barriers that are in place. The fight that has shut down the government is basically about 234 miles of new border wall that President Trump wants, according to the Trump administration’s latest request.”
With Nancy Pelosi refusing to give in — she has threatened to cancel the State of the Union address — the president must continue to hold firm in the face of both wobbly Republicans and intransigent Democrats. Maybe his strategy is working. In recent days, some House Democrats have expressed a willingness to compromise with the president. Even House Democrat Steny Hoyer of Maryland recently admitted that a “wall that protects people is not immoral.”
With Democrats having been on board for a border wall in the past, it’s time to do what’s best for the American people. Trump’s request is minimal in its cost but critical in its ability to help us secure our southern border.