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The Cost of the Border Wall

March 8, 2017

By Marinee Zavala

The expedited building of a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border would cost the country and its taxpayers between $15 and $45 billion dollars, money that San Diego experts could be put to better use building schools, quality medical centers, and on scientific projects.

Such a wall, historically shown to be doomed to failure, would do little to benefit the U.S. or the American people.

“It would be much more effective to just give the money directly to each immigrant who wants to come to the U.S. for financial reasons, or to invest in the Mexican economy – particularly in those areas that have the most impact on driving immigration to the United States. It would be a better use of resources for us; however, the good thing about a wall is that it gives us a chance to take a picture in front of it and say we’ve done something, even if it doesn’t actually work,” said David Shirk, Associate Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of San Diego (USD).

During President Trump’s first address to a Joint Session of Congress, he received a standing ovation when he spoke about building a great wall along the country’s southern border, arguing that it would strengthen security, something experts have also questioned given how skilled organized crime has shown to be in getting across even the strictest security systems.

“It is clear that building walls has not helped us decrease drug trafficking, in fact, what we have found on the border is that where there are walls, there will be tunnels; there are other mechanisms to get illegal items across. So, what really fuels the idea of a wall is fear, as well as the misunderstanding in many parts of the U.S. as to how the border and bilateral relations work,” added Dr. Shirk.

A Request for Proposals to build Trump’s wall is already under way, and the nearly 2000-mile wall will additionally require funding for maintenance and upkeep, adding a $700,000/year price tag for wall repairs. There already is a fence along San Diego’s border with Tijuana, stigmatized by the community, and researchers doubt that Congress would authorize more resources for another.

The building of the wall has also met with criticism from the United Nations and environmentalists, who ensure that it would cause great damage to the ecosystem and to animals that call the border region their home, such as the black bear and the golden eagle.

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