During President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, he made a promise to build a wall along the southern border. At my former high school during the 2016 presidential campaign, students would walk around chanting “build the wall” repeatedly to either show their support or to get a response from their more liberal peers. Laughter often followed this display, because no one thought the construction of Trump’s wall would actually happen. Often times politicians make promises during their campaigns that they have no intention of keeping. But as of right now the reality of a wall looks promising.
In San Diego, California there are eight recently constructed prototypes. Four are concrete based, and four consist of “other materials.” The wall’s strength is not going to be medieval by any means. Secretary John Kelly told Fox, “There will be the physical wall then parts of the wall that you can actually see through because it will rely on sensors and other technology.” According to CNN, President Trump has yet to see the prototypes for himself, but “may soon pay a visit.”
How much is this going to cost?
It is unclear exactly how much it will cost to build a wall that extends 1000 miles over the 1,900-mile border. The 900 miles being left untouched has to do with natural obstacles that are impossible to cross. Several monetary estimates of the wall range from $15 billion (Kate Drew CNBC) to $25 billion (Washington Post study). The most recent estimate from CNN states that the Trump Administration is planning on $18 billion for the wall. This does not include the overall plan for heightening border security, which in total will allude to $33 billion.
How is the United States going to pay for this?
President Trump claims that Mexico will pay for the wall. There are several ways of going about this:
- Trump’s former spokesman Sean Spicer proposed a 20% tax on Mexican imports. This route would incur efficient revenue, and encourage United States companies to consider moving back to U.S. territory after lower taxes are implemented. However, there is no guarantee that firms would move back to the United States, and the tax could lead to negative relations with Mexico.
- Blocking remittances would prevent Mexicans working in the United States from wiring their earnings back to their families in Mexico. Putting a hold on this money would increase pressure on Mexico to cough up funds for Trump’s wall. The approach could be detrimental to the U.S. agricultural industry, due to the reliance on seasonal workers. Morally speaking, this solution is not ideal because many of the people transferring money back to Mexico are here legally, and it would not be just to penalize them.
- House Republicans proposed a 20% corporation tax, a decrease from the former 35% corporation tax. The tax would be implemented on goods sold in the U.S. rather than goods produced here. This would raise roughly $12 billion in revenue, and reward the companies who have factories in the United States and provide jobs for U.S. citizens. Approaching the problem in this way does not target Mexico directly, and is debatably the most suitable option.
- An increase in travel visa and border crossing fees would generate additional revenue as well. However, this option is not optimal and places expenses on undeserving candidates.
What is the purpose of implementing a wall?
In 2016, the population of undocumented immigrants in the United States was roughly 11.3 million people. The problem with illegal immigration is the inability to know the intentions of those fleeing their country. Differentiating between who is crossing the border to commit criminal acts and who is crossing the border to pursue the “American Dream” is nearly impossible. It is likely that the majority of illegals come with good intentions. In reality. there are billions of good people who want to live in the United States, and we cannot take them all. To maintain control over the population and economy, these immigrants must go through the legal process of becoming a citizen. The construction of Trump’s wall would strengthen U.S. border security, consequently reducing the number of illegal immigrants entering the United States.