The Great Wall of China vs. The Southern Border in the United States
The Great Wall of China was built beginning in 221 BC. The then ruler, Emperor Qin gained control of the seven states that had existed and turned them into the first unified Chinese Kingdom. To the North, the Hun Army was getting strong and to protect the new kingdom, the emperor began building a wall. The wall’s construction would reach its peak during the Ming dynasty (1368 to 1644) and peaked at a length of around 4,000 miles (6,400 km). It is the world’s longest man made structure. The Great Wall however failed to stop invasions most notably when the Mongols led by Genghis Khan and later Kublai Khan went through the wall to conquer China.
America’s border with Mexico runs for 1,916 miles (3,169 km) stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific. To prevent people from crossing illegally into the United States, a barrier was built out of barbed wire, chain link and metal plates (National Geographic 2014). The wall peaks at 3 meters (10 feet) tall and a secondary fence behind the first peaks at 4.5 meters (15 feet). Many people have died while trying to cross the border due to exposure in the Sonoran desert and an organization called the Border Angels whose slogan, "Ni Una Muerte Mas! Reforma Ya!" ("Not one more death! Reform now!) is painted on the wall has been trying to get the American authorities to reform immigration policies (National Geographic Education 2014). Many people however do succeed in crossing and some have even built tunnels to smuggle people and drugs across the border.
Both The Great Wall of China and The Southern Border in the United States were built to try and prevent unwanted people from entering the Kingdom of China and the United States respectively. However, as with any other wall, they were both did not have a 100% success rate. The Mongols were able to numerously breach the Great Wall and raid Beijing while some people are still able to successfully cross from Mexico into the United States. Sometimes, the enemy that The Great Wall tried to keep out would come from within as was the case when a rebellion overthrew the Ming Dynasty. The American border fence has also been ineffective sometimes as drugs which are usually trafficked across the border come from smugglers within America and not from Mexico.
Both The Great wall and The Southern Border in The United States were built out of necessity and to solve an existing problem but did prove that building a wall only makes people develop other means of crossing it in order to achieve their goals. Walls alone therefore cannot solve problems but laws, diplomacy and treaties must also be used for a most effective solution.
This article first appeared on RobertReich.org.
At his turbulent his news event last week (I won’t dignify it by calling it a news conference), Donald Trump reiterated that he will build a wall along the Mexican border. “It’s not a fence. It’s a wall,” he said, and “Mexico will pay for the wall.”
Here are six reasons why Trump’s wall is an even dumber idea than most of his others.
Keep up with this story and more by subscribing now
1. The U.S.-Mexican border is already well-defended, and a wall won’t improve the defenses.
The United States now spends $3.7 billion per year to keep some 21,000 Border Patrol agents on guard and another $3.2 billion on 23,000 inspectors at ports of entry along the border, a third of which is already walled or fenced off.
2. The cost of Trump’s wall would be a whopping $25 billion on top of this.
That’s the best estimate I’ve seen, and it comes from a Washington Post fact checker. (When Trump discussed the cost last February, he put it at $8 billion, then a few weeks later he raised the cost to between $10 billion and $12 billion.)
3. There’s no way Mexico will pay for it.
On January 11, Mexican President Enrique Peña assured Mexicans they would not be footing the bill. “It is evident that we have some differences with the new government of the United States,” he said, “like the topic of the wall, that Mexico of course will not pay.”
Related: John Dean: Trump’s wall: Impractical, impolitic, impossible
4. There’s no reason for the wall anyway, because undocumented migration from Mexico has sharply declined.
The Department of Homeland Security estimates that the total undocumented population peaked at 12 million in 2008, and it has fallen since then. According to the Pew Research Center, the overall flow of Mexican immigrants between the two countries is at its smallest since the 1990s. The number of apprehensions at the border is at its lowest since 1973.
5. The decline isn’t because of rising border enforcement but because Mexico is producing fewer young people. . .
…and therefore there is less demographic pressure to migrate to the U.S. In 1965, Mexico’s fertility rate was 7.2 children per woman; by 2000 it had fallen to 2.4; today, it’s at 2.3 children per woman, just above replacement level.
6. There’s little or no evidence undocumented immigrants take jobs away from native-born Americans, anyway.
A new analysis of census data finds that immigrants take very different jobs compared with Americans. In fact, the United States already allows a significant amount of legal immigration from Mexico under the “guest-worker” program—1.6 million entries by legal immigrants and 3.9 million by temporary workers from Mexico over the past 10 years—because farmers can’t find enough native-born Americans to pick crops.
Of course, Trump lives in a fact-free universe designed merely to enhance his power and fuel his demagoguery. But you don’t have to, and nor does anyone else.
Robert Reich is the chancellor’s professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as secretary of labor in the Clinton administration, and Time magazine named him one of the 10 most effective Cabinet secretaries of the 20th century. He has written 14 books, including the best-sellers Aftershock, The Work of Nations and Beyond Outrage and, most recently, Saving Capitalism. He is also a founding editor of The American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and co-creator of the award-winning documentary Inequality for All.