Trump’s wall plan is useless, experts say
EVEN as Donald Trump vacillates between toning down his harsh antiimmigrant rhetoric and reaching out to minorities, he remains unshakable on one central campaign promise: building a wall on America’s southern border with Mexico.
“We are going to build a great wall to stop illegal immigration, to stop the gangs and the violence, and to stop the drugs from pouring into our communities,” the Republican presidential candidate said as he accepted his party’s nomination last month.
It’s an idea experts say is as useless as it is unrealistic – though that has hardly given Mr Trump pause.
“I will build the greatest wall that you have ever seen,” he said at a recent rally. “That’s a Trump wall, a beautiful wall!”
Mr Trump says his success as a construction magnate guarantees he can build such a wall but has provided few details.
The 3200-kilometre (2000-mile) US-Mexico border runs from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, crossing arid, sparsely populated territory as well as urban centres thick with inhabitants.
After initially promising to build a new barrier running the entire length of the border, Mr Trump now says only half actually needs to be covered because the physical terrain acts as a natural barrier along the rest.
But if he’s clear about the length, what about the height? Mr Trump has variously mentioned 35 feet (10.5 metres), 40 feet, 55 feet and even 90 feet.
He is just as vague about the cost – US$4 billion, then “6 or 7 billion, maybe 12”, before finally settling at “around $10 billion”.
Architects and engineers dismiss that figure as entirely unrealistic.
Mr Trump dismisses such concerns, however, pointing to China’s ancient, 13,000-mile-long Great Wall.
Key differences that make the comparison irrelevant go unmentioned – that China’s wall was built over centuries at a human cost that’s unthinkable today.
Beyond the intractable obstacles facing a Trump wall, its basic sense remains highly questionable.
Moreover, as a 2006 study by the Pew Hispanic Centre found, nearly half of illegal immigrants in the United States enter through classic entry points such as airports before simply staying on their expired visas.