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Construction of border wall prototypes gets underway

President Trump keeps a key campaign promise

Matthew Vadum author image /

The Trump administration has begun building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, the signature promise the president made during his campaign for office.

Many commentators have opined that without the promise to build the wall and crack down on illegal immigration Donald Trump would never have beaten Democrat Hillary Clinton last November.

I’m one of them.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency announced today that construction of eight prototypes of the wall long demanded by the American people is underway in San Diego. Four will be made of concrete; the other four will be made of other materials. “We are committed to securing our border and that includes constructing border walls,” said Ronald Vitiello, acting deputy commissioner at CBP.

“The prototypes are designed to test out new approaches, materials, strategies and technology as Homeland Security pushes forward with Mr. Trump’s goal of a border wall,” the Washington Times reports. “The designs are between 18 and 30 feet, and will be evaluated on how well they deter climbers, how well they withstand breach attempts and what sort of awareness they allow agents who patrol the border. The prototypes are expected to be finished within 30 days.”

Regardless of whether Mexico can be made to pay for it, as Trump has vowed, the wall will easily pay for itself. As Steven A. Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), has written, even “if a border wall stopped a small fraction of the illegal immigrants who are expected to come in the next decade, the fiscal savings from having fewer illegal immigrants in the country would be sufficient to cover the costs of the wall.”

Based on fiscal estimates provided by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS), “illegal border-crossers create an average fiscal burden of approximately $74,722 during their lifetimes, excluding any costs for their U.S.-born children.” This means if the wall “stopped between 160,000 and 200,000 illegal crossers — 9 to 12 percent of those expected to successfully cross in the next decade — the fiscal savings would equal the $12 to $15 billion cost of the wall.”

A border wall is cheap. Twelve to 15 billion bucks is a minuscule fraction of the federal government’s budget.

But even if cost a lot more, it would still be worth it. It is desperately needed to help restore America’s sovereignty over its own soil.

“A physical barrier on the southern border is a necessity if our government wishes to meet its obligation to protect the sovereignty and security of the United States of America,” the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) said earlier this year. “Besides helping stem the tide of illegal immigration, it also limits the ability of drug cartels, human traffickers, terrorists and other national security threats to access the United States from Mexico and the rest of Central and South America. Furthermore, a secure border sends the message that prospective immigrants are expected to follow the rule of law.”

One of the more idiotic pieces of punditry comes from Maya L. Kapoor of Paonia, Colorado-based High Country News in a screed titled “Legal or not, Trump’s wall is already being built[.]”

Kapoor notes that in his executive order directing wall construction the president relied on the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 and that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is suing the feds. “Perhaps taking a page from the playbook of other Western states, California focuses partly on states’ rights,” she writes. “By waiving the Coastal Zone Management Act, which gives California broad powers to regulate how federal projects affect its coastal ecosystems, the state claims that the federal government is interfering with California’s sovereign authority.”

She continues:

Hillary Hoffmann, an environmental law professor at the Vermont Law School, explains that part of California’s lawsuit rests on the belief that the president is upsetting the country’s system of checks and balances. Federal laws trump state laws, but Congress can’t essentially tell agents of the federal government that state laws don’t apply to them without passing corresponding laws. This part of California’s lawsuit could be precedent setting if it goes to the Supreme Court, as it deals with interpreting the Constitution.

This has nothing to do with checks and balances. The federal government has undisputed authority over immigration and border security. On these, it can more or less do what it thinks appropriate.

Kapoor also whines about what effect the wall will have on the environment.

Is there an environmental impact? Yes, undoubtedly there will be, but no real patriot cares. American sovereignty is more important.Will the property rights of people who own ranches on the border be violated? Undoubtedly, but that’s okay. That’s why eminent domain exists. If a taking of private property (with just compensation, of course) was ever justified, it is to protect the nation’s borders.