Trump’s wall will never be built

Nano Ruzin
University Professor

People do not like walls, especially those who play games with the lives of families and nations. The fall of the product of the Cold War – the Berlin Wall, which divided the Germans from East and West Berlin for half a century, has grown into a symbol of freedom and the unification of Europe. But the walls between North Korea and South Korea of 240km along the 38th parallel, the one between Jews and Palestinians in Bethlehem, as well as the Donald Trump project for the border with Mexico, are the most unpopular constructions on which the fate of millions of unfortunate citizens depend on.

The US project dates back to 2000 with the centralization of border police and security agencies, and is intensified with George Bush’s decision in 2002, which announced the construction of 1,120 km of wall in the form of a double metal construction. When Bush left the White House in 2008, out of his megalomaniac promises, completed only 57 km of the wall. Five years later, his successor Barack Obama, without much ambition, noted that “the project is almost complete,” as an excuse that the United States does not need an autarchical wall. Donald Trump’s ambitions were much greater. During the 2016 presidential election campaign, one of Trump’s main political promises was building a wall with Mexico under the slogan “Stop illegal immigration!” Between 200 and 500 thousand people are trying to illegally enter the United States. “We have to stop this,” Trump said during his campaign in Texas.

After the election victory, the new US president continued with his “Hubris Project”. “We will build a great wall along the border with Mexico to protect ourselves from Latin American immigrants.” Trump promised his voters that he would build an “impermeable, strong, huge, powerful and beautiful wall”. The illegal immigration control project is a few decades old. In the past, many US presidents sought to erect barriers, checkpoints and walls along the border with Mexico. That way almost 1/3 of the border was closed by buildings erected in the time of Clinton, Bush and Obama. From the 2016 pharaonic dream of Donald Trump was to close and block the entire southern border with Mexico. For that purpose, he presented a feasibility study with eight prototypes of barriers made of various materials in several heights. The president insists on steel barriers, but according to a government report, experts doubt the durability of all proposed models.

Since December 2018 this project has become “the black cat” of the US blockade of the government. The wall grew into a metaphor of unpaid and forced absence of 800,000 US federal administrators. The majority of Democrats in Congress refuse to pass the budget, in which the Trump administration requires $ 5.7 million to start construction work for the new wall. Since there is no agreement on financing the wall – there is no vote on the budget. As long as there is no budget, the blocking of the numerous administrative services in the country continues.

But are there realistic chances for the realization of this surrealistic dream of Trump? Objective analyzes show that – according to the Arab – it’s like asking for the time “at noon to be 14 o’clock,” for at least three reasons. First, geography is not favorable. If the geographical relief is followed downstream along the border of the Rio Grande River, it is serpentine-shaped with numerous meanders. Under such conditions, any kind of construction work would be a serious challenge. The lessons learned from the past show that the builders are faced with numerous unpredictable risks. It is possible, because of the specificity of the construction, that some of the frontier US citizens stay on the other side of the barrier to the Mexican territory, narrowed between the real border and the wall. In Arizona and New Mexico the geographical relief is very unsuitable due to the mountains and sharp stone hems. Aware of this challenge, Trump has already yielded to the demands. Propose that the wall be cut by half, from 3,140 km to 1,600 km.

The second serious obstacle to the execution of the wall project is excessive cost. At the start of his presidential term, Trump promised that “the construction of the wall will be paid by Mexico and Mexicans.” Soon he realized that the Mexican authorities did not intend to cooperate, and so he turned to domestic sources. Debates with his political opponents have shown an extensive rhetoric about actual cost estimates. First, Trump proposed a budget between $ 8 billion and $ 12 billion. That amount would be saved by the eradication of illegal immigration over the next 10 years. For its part, the Homeland Security Department estimated that the cost would reach $ 21 billion. Senators of the Democratic Party believe that the venture will cost over $ 70 billion. This amount is equal to the cost of building 18 world shopping centers, similar to that of 2013. That’s why Trump’s proposal is simply unacceptable among the Democrats. At this moment, Democrats from Congress are refusing $ 5.7 billion to get the project started. After all, these prices do not include the prices of maintenance.

A third important problem for the execution of the wall is expropriation and nationalization of the terrain. In order to construct a wall, it is necessary that the terrain belongs to the federal authorities. According to the Congressional Report of 2015, 2/3 of the terrain through which the construction of the wall is planned, are privately owned.
The expropriation of these terrains will last for years. Accordingly, Trump’s dream of the high wall is hardly feasible, but that does not mean that something could not be rebuilt, as Obama and Bush did. Some barriers will be raised, but that’s far from Donald Trump’s megalomaniac idea.
Faced with the “no deal” of the Democrats and the severity of the unpleasant closure, Trump proposed a compromise. It offers “temporary status and extension of work permits” to about one million immigrants who risk being thrown off, as compensation for the connivance of Congress over the wall along the border with Mexico. “This is my proposal to break the budget deadlock,” Trump said last week. He also proposed “extending DACA work permit for three years”, previously introduced by President Obama and abolished by Trump. About 700,000 immigrant so-called “dreamers” would benefit from this measure, people who have illegally entered into the United States.

At the same time, Trump proposed prolonging the status of temporary protection (TPS) that allows 300,000 migrants to work legally, even though they do not have a legal residence. However, even before Trump’s official speech, the head of the Democratic majority in the Congress, Nancy Pelosi, rejected the proposal because it was “for a mere compilation of a number of initiatives that were rejected and unacceptable”.

Democrat senator Chuck Schumer believes that “the offer of protection in the exchange for the wall is not a compromise, but a new kind of hostage taking.” What’s comforting is the fact that Democrats in Congress are proposing to allocate one billion dollars for he security aspects of the border, but not for the wall.

Views expressed in this article are personal views of the author and do not represent the editorial policy of Nezavisen Vesnik