Please forward this error screen to 209. In essay on bird sanctuary Brookings Essay, “The Wall,” Brookings Senior Fellow Vanda Felbab-Brown explains the true costs of building a barrier on the U.
In a new Brookings Essay, Vanda Felbab-Brown examines the real costs of building a wall between the United States and Mexico. The cheerful paintings of flowers on the tall metal posts on the Tijuana side of the border fence between the U. Mexico belie the sadness of the Mexican families who have gathered there to exchange whispers, tears, and jokes with relatives on the San Diego side. A woman in Tijuana, Mexico speaks with a U.
Many have been separated from their family members for years. Some were deported to Mexico after having lived in the United States for decades without authorization, leaving behind children, spouses, siblings, and parents. Others never left Mexico, but have made their way to the fence to see relatives in the United States. Orwellian name—Friendship Park—this site is one of the very few places where families separated by immigration rules can have even fleeting contact with their loved ones, from 10 a. Elsewhere, the tall metal barrier is heavily patrolled. So is to be the wall that President Donald Trump promises to build along the border.
But no matter how tall and thick a wall will be, illicit flows will cross. Undocumented workers and drugs will still find their way across any barrier the administration ends up building. And such a wall will be irrelevant to those people who become undocumented immigrants by overstaying their visas—who for many years have outnumbered those who become undocumented immigrants by crossing the U. Nor will the physical wall enhance U. The border, and more broadly how the United States defines its relations with Mexico, directly affects the 12 million people who live within 100 miles of the border.
In multiple and very significant ways that have not been acknowledged or understood it will also affect communities all across the United States as well as Mexico. Map showing the composition of the border: Border with no fence, vehicle or pedestrian fence, and the Rio Grande. The wall comes with many costs, some obvious though hard to estimate, some unforeseen. The most obvious is the large financial outlay required to build it, in whatever form it eventually takes.
6 billion, but that may be a major underestimate. But that description doesn’t begin to cover questions about the details of its physical structure. Then there are the legal fees required to seize land on which to build the wall. The Trump administration can use eminent domain to acquire the land but will still have to negotiate compensation and often face lawsuits.
More than 90 such lawsuits in southern Texas alone are still open from the 2008 effort to build a fence there. Mountainous terrain along the U. Mexico border is an obstacle to building a wall. Depicted here: a stretch of border about 100 miles east of San Diego. Remittances provide many Mexicans with amenities they could never afford otherwise.
But for Mexicans living in poverty—some 46. 2 percent in 2015 according to the Mexican social research agency CONEVAL—the remittances are a veritable lifeline which can represent as much as 80 percent of their income. These families count on that money for the basics of life—food, clothing, health care, and education for their children. The remittances enable human and economic development throughout the country, and this in turn reduces the incentives for further migration to the United States — precisely what Trump is aiming to do. I met the matron of one of those families in a lush but desperately poor mountain village in Guerrero. Rosa, a forceful woman who was initially suspicious, decided to confide in me. Her son had crossed into the United States eight years ago, she said.
The remittances he sent allowed Rosa’s grandchildren to get medical treatment at the nearest clinic, some thirty miles away. Like Rosa, many people in the village had male relatives working illegally in the United States in order to help their families make ends meet. If you’re smart, like my son, you make it across the border to the U. Otherwise, you’re stuck here farming or logging and starving.