Why must 800,000 Americans continue to go without pay in the name of a fundamentally illogical wall?

Why must 800,000 Americans continue to go without pay in the name of a fundamentally illogical wall?

Three and a half years of constant, abrasive rhetoric of that infamous, looming wall like an incessant swarm of unfaltering flies immune to all amounts of swatting.

No swatting has tamed the beast that this wall has morphed into. And now, three and a half years later, this country is in the deep trenches of the longest government shutdown in history.

800,000 federal workers have been blatantly shoved aside in the merciless political brawl, over half of whom are still required to work even without their paychecks.

Neglected trash at Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Vandalized Joshua Trees at Joshua Tree National Park

National parks have been closed, desecrated, and vandalized. TSA agents across the country are calling in sick, posing a massive threat not only to convenience but security. Federal departments responsible for providing housing and food for low-income families are draining their funds. In the wake of the too-recent E. Coli breakout, the FDA has reduced their inspection efforts.

I will shut down the government. Absolutely. And I am proud. I am proud to shut down the government for border security.”

— Donald Trump, Dec 11, 2019

Through it all, Trump has relentlessly blamed Democrats for the shutdown, despite not only taking very prideful ownership of the– at the time impending– shutdown, but also refusing to compromise. Last week, he met with Democratic Congressmen Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi to negotiate the shutdown’s end; according to Trump himself, when Pelosi stated her disagreement with the wall, he said “If you’re not going to give us strong borders, bye bye,” and walked out.

This idea of equating the wall to border security is ridiculous and a blatant display of childish stubbornness. It’s as if Trump is clinging to the idea of the wall for the sheer point of winning the argument. Opposers are willing to allocate money for increased border security; the issue is that using any actual logic reveals that shelling out $5.6 billion for a wall is not the answer to border security.

When during the campaign I would say Mexico was gonna pay for it, obviously I never said this, and I never meant [that] they’re gonna write out a check.”

— Donald Trump, Dec 10, 2018

The money is the first and foremost hurdle. As most foresaw, the promise that Mexico would write a check for this wall fell to dust the moment it was met with reality. Now, in spite of the numerous times he was filmed claiming it, or the letter to the Washington Post in which he wrote that Mexico would “make a one-time payment of $5-10 billion,” the government is in a standoff because Trump has miraculously forgotten his promise and is now demanding the billions from Congress. 

However, according to actual engineers, the plan for this wall would surpass $5.6 billion and likely cost closer to $25-50 billion. Moreover, unlike Trump’s previous claims, in no way is the wall a one-time cost. There will be endless costs in upkeep, maintenance, etc. And that’s only after the long, costly process of actually building it, which experts and engineers say could exceed Trump’s presidency and even lifetime.

Logistically, plans of the wall have also ignored outright safety and environmental issues. The wall would not allow land drainage in the case of flash flooding and thus poses a safety hazard. In fact, no Environmental Site Assessment has been conducted for the wall. This brazen disregard for the environment, while unsurprising considering the Trump Administration’s track record, is a disrespectful travesty.

Other logistical issues relate to the land itself of the southern border. Much of the land is privately owned, which accounts for the spottiness of existing fences. While Trump has threatened the use of eminent domain, the legal process would further delay the process that we already know is set to be lengthy.

Furthermore, the wall would also span over Native American-owned land, meaning the government would need to request permission. In the past, this has not worked well in natives’ favor. For example, when the Tohono O’odham tribe granted permission for vehicle barriers in 2007, the Bush Administration destroyed sacred burial grounds and dug up human remains. Thus, the tribe has committed to halting any building efforts; it is likely that other tribes would follow suit.

They say a wall is medieval; so is a wheel. A wheel is older than a wall*… There are some things that work. A wheel works, and a wall works.”

— Donald Trump, Jan 10, 2019

And, most obviously, a wall isn’t a solution to illegal crossing. Already, illegal immigrants have been digging tunnels under existing border walls. That’s not to mention ladders equipped with custom saddles or even growing drone technology that in 10-20 years will be able to carry humans. Perhaps Trump’s wheel analogy doesn’t hold up quite so well in the defense of this wall?

Simply put, billions of dollars should not be allocated simply to appease the ego of an administration with no reason. There are better ways to go about border security– ways that include research and rationale, rather than disregarding 800,000 Americans and their families.


*Note: walls are at least 3,000 years older than wheels.