Wall prom­ise may be over the top

Build­ing Trump’s bor­der bar­rier no easy task

Winnipeg Free Press - SundayXtra - - WORLD -

with the idea that if you just build the right kind of wall, no one will get through.’’

Trump dis­puted that, say­ing a wall “would be very ef­fec­tive” in de­ter­ring illegal mi­grants and seis­mic and other equip­ment could de­tect and stop any un­der­ground tun­nels.

“A wall is bet­ter than fenc­ing, and it’s much more pow­er­ful,” he said. “It’s more se­cure. It’s taller.”

Trump ac­knowl­edged en­vi­ron­men­tal-im­pact stud­ies would be dif­fi­cult, but said he is the one per­son who can rise to the chal­lenge.

“I’m con­sid­ered a great builder, by ev­ery­body,” he said, adding cost is ir­rel­e­vant be­cause he would force Mexico to pay for the struc­ture.

Asked if that was re­al­is­tic, Trump said: “It’s re­al­is­tic if you know some­thing about the art of ne­go­ti­at­ing. If you have a bunch of clowns ne­go­ti­at­ing, it’s not re­al­is­tic.”

Trump has emerged as a lead­ing can­di­date for the GOP nom­i­na­tion partly be­cause of his strong state­ments about immigration, which have in­cluded de­scrib­ing Mex­i­cans en­ter­ing the coun­try il­le­gally as “rapists” and “mur­der­ers.”

He has sug­gested at times his pro­posed wall would be ex­ten­sive and cover nearly the en­tire bor­der, but said in the in­ter­view: “You don’t have to build it in ev­ery lo­ca­tion. There would be some lo­ca­tions where you would have guards, where you don’t need it be­cause the to­pog­ra­phy acts as its own wall, whether that’s wa­ter or very rough ter­rain.”

The con­cept of a wall or fence along vir­tu­ally the en­tire bor­der has bub­bled up oc­ca­sion­ally in the na­tion’s immigration de­bate, with some Repub­li­cans sup­port­ing the idea. To­day, there are more than 45 such walls and bor­der fences world­wide, per­haps most promi­nently Is­rael’s West Bank bar­rier.

While Is­raeli of­fi­cials say it has re­duced at­tacks, se­cu­rity spe­cial­ists say that bar­rier, slated to be more than 640 kilo­me­tres when fin­ished, is not com­pa­ra­ble to what would be re­quired along the far more ex­ten­sive U.S. south­west bor­der. The Is­raelis, they add, sup­ple­ment the con­crete bar­rier with a mix of bor­der po­lice and tech­nol­ogy, much as the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity does in the U.S.

In any event, a va­ri­ety of ex­perts said, the highly mil­i­ta­rized na­ture of the Is­raeli struc­ture and the Ber­lin Wall that once di­vided por­tions of West and East Ger­many — in­fa­mous for its guard tow­ers and other for­ti­fi­ca­tions — would prob­a­bly never gain wide­spread po­lit­i­cal sup­port in the U.S.

The U.S. gov­ern­ment be­gan build­ing bor­der fenc­ing near San Diego in 1990. As Home­land Se­cu­rity cracked down on illegal immigration af­ter the 9/11 terror at­tacks, then-pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush signed into law the Se­cure Fence Act of 2006, which dra­mat­i­cally ex­panded the ef­fort. Spend­ing on bor­der fenc­ing and re­lated in­fra­struc­ture such as light­ing shot up from US$298 mil­lion in 2006 to $US1.5 bil­lion the fol­low­ing year, ac­cord­ing to the non-par­ti­san Con­gres­sional Re­search Ser­vice.

Over­all, more than US$7 bil­lion has been used to build what is now 1,050 kilo­me­tres of south­west bor­der fenc­ing — nearly half in Ari­zona. More than 560 kilo­me­tres of that is pedes­trian fenc­ing, gen­er­ally mesh struc­tures that are ap­prox­i­mately 2.5 to 4.5 me­tres high. The re­main­der is de­signed to stop ve­hi­cles.

The costs could in­crease sub­stan­tially if

SANDY HUF­FAKER / THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILES

Ex­perts and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials say com­pletely se­cur­ing the U.S.-Mexico bor­der would be vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble.

DANNY JOHN­STON / THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial hope­ful Don­ald Trump says he would force Mexico to pay for a bor­der wall.

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