Border Wall Bufoonery

A recent opinion piece, originally published in the Arizona Republic  and picked up by USA Today, offers some inane commentary disguised as ‘historical fact,’ about President Trump’s proposed border wall.

The piece is titled “Trump’s Border Wall Future: Tourist Trap that Pays for Itself in 2,000 Years.” Its basic premise is that, “The Great Wall of China cost many lives, was enormously expensive and didn’t work even back then with no technology. But it did draw foreign visitors.” If that sounds like revisionist claptrap, that’s because it is.

As FAIR has noted, the Great Wall of China worked, just like most of the other walls built in antiquity and more recently.  The Great Wall was never intended to be a border barrier. It was built as a static defensive position for Chinese military forces. And it was breached only when a treasonous general opened the gates and let in the invading Manchu. Although the Manchu expanded Chinese borders beyond the wall, for centuries they continued to use it as a defensive bulwark.

The assertion that the Great Wall’s real value lies in its recent use as a tourist attraction demonstrates a lack of historical knowledge and a poor understanding of defense budgeting. The Great Wall was expensive, in terms of blood and treasure. But, overall, it seems to have been a wise investment for the Ming Dynasty, since the Manchu couldn’t breach it without help from the inside. Walls can’t defend against treachery. But when manned by trustworthy sentinels, they do tend to keep the bad guys out.

Why does the author claim that modern walls don’t work? He notes that most of the images of the Trump administration’s prototype walls have been taken with drones and cites this as proof that, “modern technology beats walls.”

Of course, that conveniently ignores the security fencing clearly visible in the drone images, which kept photographers from getting close to the sample walls. (A logical observer might take that as clear evidence that physical barriers do, in fact, work rather well. Especially when they are constructed correctly.) It also ignores the fact that while technology may make it easier to look over walls, there hasn’t been a plague of high-tech catapults chucking illegal aliens over the San Diego border fence.

Then he throws out this doozer: “Besides, it is well documented that most border intrusions are done through regular crossing points.” Really? By definition “border intrusions” are crossings made at locations other than official portals. Inadmissible aliens who manage to worm their way into the U.S. at official crossings do so by fraud. They haven’t made an intrusion – they’ve actually been admitted to the U.S., but obtained admission by deceiving immigration officials. No one with half a brain expects a border wall to eliminate fraud.

Building a wall along the southern border is a major undertaking. And, because we live in a democracy, plans for a wall should be vigorously debated. But meaningful debate requires facts. And even clearly labeled opinion columns should be based on facts, not  emotional gibberish.

About Author


Matthew J. O’Brien joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2016. Matt is responsible for managing FAIR’s research activities. He also writes content for FAIR’s website and publications. Over the past twenty years he has held a wide variety of positions focusing on immigration issues, both in government and in the private sector. Immediately prior to joining FAIR Matt served as the Chief of the National Security Division (NSD) within the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where he was responsible for formulating and implementing procedures to protect the legal immigration system from terrorists, foreign intelligence operatives, and other national security threats. He has also held positions as the Chief of the FDNS Policy and Program Development Unit, as the Chief of the FDNS EB-5 Division, as Assistant Chief Counsel with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, as a Senior Advisor to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, and as a District Adjudications Officer with the legacy Immigration & Naturalization Service. In addition, Matt has extensive experience as a private bar attorney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from the Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law.


  1. avatar

    where do you get your education? the school of Communism? we do not live in a democracy we LIVE IN A CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC. TALK ABOUT BUFOONERY

  2. avatar
    John D. Horton on

    Sell licenses to hunters who want to shoot illegal aliens crossing the border?

    A money maker? Helps with the national debt?

  3. avatar

    How many times must it be repeated – WE DON’T LIVE IN A DEMOCRACY!
    Our founders loathed and despised democracy as ultimately unworkable. That’s why they created a representative Republic.
    “Democracy will soon degenerate into an anarchy, such an anarchy that every man will do what is right in his own eyes and no man’s life or property or reputation or liberty will be secure, and every one of these will soon mould itself into a system of subordination of all the moral virtues and intellectual abilities, all the powers of wealth, beauty, wit and science, to the wanton pleasures, the capricious will, and the execrable cruelty of one or a very few.” —John Adams
    “The known propensity of a democracy is to licentiousness which the ambitious call, and ignorant believe to be liberty.” —Fisher Ames, speech in the Massachusetts Ratifying Convention, 1788
    “We are now forming a republican government. Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.” – Alexander Hamilton
    “Democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51% of the people may take away the rights of the other 49%.” .”—Thomas Jefferson

    • avatar

      The main problem with a Republic is that it requires continuous maintenance for it to endure. As Benjamin Franklin said, when asked what form of government was created, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” The “if you can keep it” part is the real challenge.

      The founders know that human nature changes very little, and when the majority of voters learn that they will get freebies if they elect liberal politicians who don’t respect the Constitution, the Republic will convert into a Democracy, with mob rule and socialism or worse. Over the decades, attitudes have been changed by liberals in control of universities, until a large proportion of young adults ignorantly believe that socialism is a better form of government. This is a time of peril.

  4. avatar

    Trump is right to complain about fake news. This wall of China claptrap is repeated by the media constantly and the people promoting it are the same people who don’t WANT one to work because they favor continued illegal immigration, essentially open borders. There are two more recent and far more relevant examples and they both show walls/fences work and the media ignores them.

    The first is the double layer fence built along the California border during the Clinton administration. It reduced crossings to next to nothing and was the reason that illegal crossers attempted the much more lengthy and more dangerous trek across the Arizona and New Mexico desert. The second example is the wall that Israel built between their country and the Palestinian areas of the West Bank. The weekly suicide bombings of Israeli buses, businesses and restaurants came almost to a halt after the completion of that wall.

  5. avatar

    Employers should pay heavy price for hiring noncitizens or valid visa holders. Nonprofits and universities too, including admission of illegal residents.

  6. avatar

    I agree, a wall, no matter how long or how tall will not stop illegal immigration. Therefore, we must change the law. How do we change the law to allow for amnesty and at the same time stop illegal immigration?

    • avatar

      You don’t. You live in a dream world. Amnesties only encourage more illegal immigration because it says you can ignore the border or overstay your visa and you will eventually be rewarded with being allowed to stay here.

      • avatar

        Leland got it right again. A law unenforced is no law at all. Not against immigration, just against illegal immigration.