Build a Border Wall? Food for Thought

090317-N-5253T-016With all the discussion of a border wall in the presidential campaign, a couple of simple facts have been ignored.

First, fencing already exists in the most crossed sections of the border. So the issue is to what extent fencing should be expanded and/or made less permeable. There is already a congressional mandate to expand the fencing and to make it double fencing (The Secure Fence Act of 2006), but that mandate has not been funded and has thus been ignored.

Second, fencing or a wall wouldn’t halt illegal immigration from the current influx of illegal unaccompanied minors from Central America. Those illegal entrants are already happily turning themselves over to the Border Patrol (BP) because they know that the BP is under orders to turn them over to the Office of Child Services of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS not only has a mandate to house and feed them, but also provides transportation to the home of the illegal alien minor’s parents or other caregiver in the United States. Why would an illegal alien minor try to evade the BP if the red carpet treatment is available when they turn themselves in?

The next question is whether a wall would change this specific situation. The unfortunate answer is no, because the Central American illegal alien minor could just as easily go to a legal port of entry and ask the Customs and Border Protection officer for asylum. Many are already doing this. Our immigration court system has become so backlogged (about half a million cases are currently pending) that a request for asylum simply puts the illegal alien into a queue that stretches for years before a deportation  can be issued.

So, what can be done? A wall or more fencing has a role to play in combating smuggling and some illegal entry as well as for enhanced national security, but it is only one step of a full solution to illegal immigration. Instead of treating the wall as a cure-all, the U.S. has to begin rapid repatriation (deportation) for all illegal aliens who do not immediately present a prima facie case that they have a well-founded fear of persecution if they were sent home. This is the solution that slowed the illegal arrival of Cubans; after they became subject to such screening if their boat was stopped the numbers intercepted by sea dropped.

It is obvious from the actions of the Obama administration that this suggested solution is anathema currently, and the same may hold if Secretary Clinton steps into the Oval Office. 

About Author


Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).


  1. avatar
    Barbara Griffith on

    You know what I found out yesterday is that Hillary has a large compound that has at least a ten- foot wall around it along with a security guard. When you are standing outside the gate and fence you can’t see through it at all. All this woman does is complain about Trump going to build a wall along the border. That’s to please her Latino admirers so this is another large home that she and Billy own with money they made off of their pay to play organization. At the DNC convention when the staffers were told to contact Latino voters they passed the word calling it ” taco bowl outreach”.

  2. avatar

    In the past two weeks 20 people have died from a heroin overdose in Milwaukee, Speaker Ryan’s home state. The heroin and fentanyl found today in the United States is manufactured in Mexico. It is smuggled across our very porous land border by the Mexican cartels. It is transported and distributed by those same cartels, who have established distribution centers in every sate of our country. These cartels employ their own people for all of this, because they can control them through threats against their remaining family back in Mexico.

    We need every single sort of barrier one can think of to stop, slow down, discourage illegal immigration. A wall would be great, but just for starters. We also need to resume interior immigration law enforcement. We need an administration that will protect our nations sovereignty and our national security. Our immigration laws are to protect our labor market and is a cornerstone if we are going to have national security.

    The current administration has done just about everything humanly possible to block enforcement of our immigration laws, at the border and the interior. They purposely bogged down our immigration courts and created chaos. The current invasion by the Central Americans came about because of this administration sending the signal that they had no intention of enforceing immigration law. In addition, the administration has created an amnesty for these Central Americans, by simply declaring them as being refugees. While I feel sorry for citizens of countries like Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, because they have corrupt governments that have allowed gangs and cartels to run rampant, fleeing your country for reasons of crime and corruption are not grounds supported under our asylum law. If being poor was grounds, then billions more will be coming.

    If we get one more administration like the current one, we are doomed as a nation.

    • avatar

      You are literally not exaggerating. She has already said, specifically, that the only people she will deport are “violent criminals”. She is saying up front that she will not enforce immigration law, in spite of her constitutional duty to do so. Republicans are apparently supposed to jump on this bandwagon so more Latinos will vote for them. First, it’s proven that Latinos favor big government, so they will vote Democratic anyway. Second, where do you draw the line on pandering to illegal behavior. It was illegal for blacks to be discriminated against, but that didn’t stop southern Democrats for a hundred years to pass every sort of Jim Crow law to keep them down. But hey, it got votes so I guess it was correct?

      I don’t see why anyone would want to be just another Latin American failure of a country. We already have a couple dozen. No thanks. And supposedly we have “free elections” but Hillary has not held an announced formal press conference this year. And all the media does is play up 3 second sound bites and then gives us hours of “experts” who tell you what you are supposed to think about it.

      We are government by television ad, and the media is never going to rock the boat because their bottom line is profits. Anyone who thinks differently is a fool. I have talked to many people who still think this president is responsible for “record deportations” when the fact is it’s cooking the books; He himself called those numbers “deceptive”. And sure, some countries are violent in some areas, but so is Chicago on any weekend.

  3. avatar
    Hessie L Harris on

    A wall is not necessary. Enforcement of the immigration laws including letting the Border Agents do their jobs will more than suffice.

  4. avatar

    Progressive and liberal lowlifes ARE responsible for this insanity, their ignorance will bury this nation if not curbed, period!

  5. avatar
    Concerned Citizen on

    The wall should be enhanced where it’s needed and scratched where it’s not, then the rest of our immigration problem will fall into the hands of what really counts — people. We need the right people in Washington, people who understand how destructive our current immigration system is, not only to native-born citizens, but also to current and future immigrants. The longer the White House is occupied by the Democrat Party, the more they own the issues of a declining middle class, stagnant wages, and many forms of homeland violence, including violence aimed at women and the LGTBQ community.

  6. avatar

    That’s not a wall. It’s a broke down fence. Build the wall and cut off all “freebees”! No cash,health care,foodstamps. Absolutely no school. Our schools need total revamping. Enough with the ******** petty crap. Take away the free meal and they’ll stop comining. No more giving jobs away to non citizens.

  7. avatar

    It shouldn’t take a Rhodes Scholar to figure this out; ENFORCE OUR LAWS & VERIFY THERE ENFORCEMENT! Something this asinine and spineless government refuses to do, because they’re brown nosing the business elites and special interest scumbags that are parasites to their criminal behavior! Any real questions on this matter?

    • avatar

      Behind the happy mouse ears is an economic tiger. They knew there were problems with alligators before that happened with the little boy, but they did not want to put signs up because it would cause guests to go back home and talk about the signs. Bad publicity and the bottom line and all that. A guest had complained to a manager last December at another Disney resort when he saw an alligator approaching his son who was standing in about a foot of water. He was told that the alligators were pets. People from out of state would be generally unaware of the danger.

      Same thing with their H1B visa workers. They forced the fired workers to train them if they wanted severance packages. It’s all the bottom line. They squeeze every nickel they can out of tourists, but don’t want to pay workers.

      Hillary voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006 which specified a 700 mile double layer fence along the border but now claims she’s against a “wall”. But hey, give her or Bill a vote, or a dollar, and they will say what you want. We have never had a situation like this before, where a candidate has been so compromised by the money that pours in to their “foundation”, and the media ignores it. A lot of that money, many many millions, comes from some of the worst human rights violators in the world, particularly in the Muslim world. If it was Trump it would be front page every day. Instead we get day after day of something he allegedly said.