President Trump’s ambition to secure our southern border has attracted a lot of criticism, including comparisons to the infamous Berlin Wall. Never mind that it was built to stop the victims of socialism fleeing from oppression, and not to protect East Berlin from illegal immigrants – plenty on the left have used the image to attack Trump’s focus on security. So is there any truth in these smears at all? Does our president really want to build a Soviet-style wall along our border with Mexico?
- The US-Mexico border is about 1,900 miles long. Under Trump’s plans, a new physical barrier would cover about 1,000 miles of it; natural barriers mean the remaining 900 miles is already pretty hard to cross. The main difference is that some areas which were left to nature in the past, but have been attracting border jumpers, will be protected by the barrier.
- Talk about the new barrier is dominated by the word “wall” – from both supporters and opponents – so this is the image that’s stuck in everyone’s mind. Most people imagine a high concrete wall, just like the one that used to divide Berlin (except without the minefields, attack dogs and automatic guns).
- In fact, the president’s plan is for a series of barriers that match the security requirements on each section of border. Trump says there will be a wall on some sections, but others just need a fence.
- Critics say there’s already a fence along a lot of the border, and it isn’t working. That’s true, but there are different kinds of fences. Right now, a lot of the border is protected by simple chain link and maybe a few strands of barbed wire. That’s easy to climb, and even easier to cut through. It isn’t much of an obstacle.
- Under the president’s plans these flimsy fences will be replaced by much stronger ones made of steel panels or welded mesh. Getting through these would require heavy duty cutting gear – and stronger fences can also be protected by sensors that will warn the Border Patrol of any attempt to cut them.
- One problem with the current border is that a lot of areas aren’t protected because they’re desert regions. It used to be assumed that the terrain was too harsh for anyone to make it through. That assumption was obviously wrong, with increasing numbers crossing – and dying – in the desert. Those sections will now be sealed with proper fences.
So there’s no plan to turn Mexico into the new Berlin. All President Trump wants to do is give us a proper border at last. It’s hard to see why so many people have a problem with this.