The Wall. Besides “emails” it has been one of the most used and overused words of this election year and current presidency. Now that Mr. Trump has managed to find himself in the White House, the reality of the “wall” is quickly settling in. No more “what ifs” and asking if he is serious. Mr. Trump fully plans on following through with his promise to construct a wall that stretches across the U.S.-Mexico border to once and for all end our illegal immigration problems.
Everything takes time, and no matter how many alternative facts the Trump administration might tell us, the wall will not be built by the time Trump’s first term is over. If he somehow gets reelected, it is highly unlikely the wall will be completed by the time that term is over as well.
In an article by Politifact, James Jirsa, a UT-Austin civil engineering professor who specializes in concrete structures, said “most engineers would agree that such a wall cannot be built in under a year. If money were no object, the best-case scenario from the initial design phase to the wall’s completion would be five to 10 years. I think that would be reasonable.”
If you don’t want to put your eggs in that basket, look at the 700 miles of just fences and
barriers that were built along the border under the Obama administration that took almost six years and as of 2012, had cost almost $6 billion. If the plan to go through with the wall is seen, it will not be done by the time Trump leaves office. That begs the question, what will Trump’s successor do with the wall? If he/she decides to tear it down, it would be billions and billions of tax dollars wasted.
While we are on the topic of billions and billions of dollars, let’s look a little deeper into the economics and financial situation of the wall. CBS News estimates the project could cost anywhere from $12 to $21 billion dollars, which would surpass the annual budget of NASA. We’ve heard that Mexico will pay for the wall over the last 18 months, but
recently, Mexico’s president Enrique Peña Nieto has publicly made it clear Mexico will in no way help fund the project. The Trump administration has backtracked from this idea and shifted the burden onto taxpayer’s shoulders, which would cost each household an average of $120. They have also suggested imposing a 20% tax on all Mexican-imported goods, which according to Forbes not only violates U.S. commitments with NAFTA and the World Trade Organization, but in turn makes the taxpayers have to pay more for the higher priced Mexican products. Not the best business decision to make regarding our third largest trading partner whom we imported over $295 billion from in 2015.
To put all of this in perspective, here is a short list of what that $21 billion could help pay for instead of a time-consuming, unnecessary wall. It could pay off all medical debt in the U.S. according to ThinkProgress.org. It would cover the 2015 homelessness assistance budget ($5.5 billion) four times over, covering veteran homelessness, preventing chronic homelessness among families and children, food and shelter programs, the Department of Veteran Affairs, and housing programs. The funding for the wall is 53 times more expensive than the cost to cover the Flint water crisis which is still not completely resolved after three years. It would be ten times the money that goes toward the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration budget ($2.2 billion) that is the lead agency providing funding for states to implement proven and effective services for individuals with substance use or mental health conditions. Finally, it could cover the budget ten times over for the Assistance for Arts Education program and Student Support and Academic Enrichment program, which are dedicated to funding art programs and creating well-rounded educational opportunities in schools.
I am not trying to say we should make our borders weak or that are borders should not be appropriately staffed or have access to the gear and equipment they need, but there is also no need to spend so much time and money on something so outrageous as “Trump’s Wall.”