Trump's plan to build a wall along U.S.-Mexico border faces great hurdles

WASHINGTON - Can Donald Trump really make good on his promise to build a wall along the 3,200-kilometre U.S.-Mexican border to prevent illegal immigration? What's more, can he make Mexico pay for it?

See Full Article

Sure, he can build it, but it's not nearly as simple as he says.

Constructing the wall, now a signature applause line at Trump campaign rallies, is a complicated endeavour, fraught with difficulties. Numerous bureaucratic, diplomatic, environmental, monetary and logistical hurdles must be overcome.

And forcing the Mexican government to foot the bill won't be easy, especially since its president has flat-out refused.

A physical barrier between Mexico and the United States has been tried before.

During President George W. Bush's second term, Congress authorized $1.2 billion to build several hundred kilometres of double-layer fencing but the government faced myriad obstacles. Private landowners objected to buyout offers. There were environmental concerns and lawsuits.

Some 1,050 kilometres of fencing now sits on the border, including roughly 4.5-metre tall steel fencing in many urban areas that is designed to stop or slow border crossers on foot and vehicle barriers, which are shorter steel posts filled with cement and planted in the ground.

Just getting that built was a challenge and a new, taller wall like the one Trump wants would almost certainly face as much, if not more, opposition.

First, a 1970 boundary treaty governs structures along the Rio Grande and Colorado River at the Mexican border. It requires that structures cannot disrupt the flow of the rivers, which flow across Texas and 39 kilometres in Arizona, define the U.S.-Mexican border, according to The International Boundary and Water Commission, a joint U.S.-Mexican agency that administers the treaty.

Trump has said his wall will not need to run the full 3,360-kilometre length of the border but even excluding those portions blocked by geographic features, there are serious issues.

In some places, treaty obligations and river flood zones would require the wall be built well into the United States, which would be awkward if the Mexican government is paying for it and overseeing the project. In addition to creating a sort of no-man's land between the wall and the actual border, one government or the other would have to buy large amounts of private property as well as land owned by at least one Indian tribe whose territory straddles the border in southern Arizona.

In areas where the border is defined on dry land across New Mexico, most of Arizona and California, structures have to be built so that the wall doesn't obstruct natural run off routes or otherwise induce flooding. Building in those areas can be complicated and costly. In sensitive sand dunes in Southern California, for instance, a "floating fence" had to be built to allow the natural movements of the dunes.

Then, there are the conservation issues. Groups such as Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club sued over parts of the existing partial fence. And, federal regulations could prevent or at least significantly delay or increase costs of construction in certain areas.

A total of 18 federally protected species may be found along certain sections of the California border and at least 39 federally endangered, threatened, or candidate species live along the Arizona border, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Presuming Trump can overcome all of these bumps, he must also contend with the cost and the diplomatic consequences.

Numerous fact-checking organizations have taken issue with Trump's estimate that the wall would be built for $10 billion to $12 billion. And, they have rejected his contention that the wall could be funded by reducing the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico. Figures released by the Army Corps of Engineers and the Congressional Research Service indicate that the total cost of the current 1,050 kilometres fence has been $7 billion. And that doesn't include maintenance and upkeep.

Trump has insisted that Mexico will pay for the wall, perhaps through fees on money that immigrants send home to their families, tariffs or other means. Fees would be wildly unpopular and tariffs would likely run afoul of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The cost of such tariffs would also ultimately be borne by U.S. consumers.

Getting the Mexican government to pay for it outright is almost certainly wishful thinking.

President Enrique Pena Nieto said Monday that "there is no scenario" under which Mexico would pay for the wall and likened Trump's rhetoric to that of Hitler and Mussolini. Former President Vicente Fox put it more bluntly: "I am not going to pay for that f---ing wall." Both Fox and another former president, Felipe Calderon, have also compared Trump to Hitler.

So there's diplomatic ill will, a question the Congressional Research Service raised in 2009.

"Do the gains in border security outweigh the risk of alienating Mexico and Canada?" it asked. "Should the Mexican or Canadian government's opinions or wishes be taken into account when border fencing is concerned? Given the need to co-ordinate intelligence and law enforcement activities at the border, should maintaining cordial working relationships with Mexico and Canada take precedence over sealing the border with physical barriers?"

And, on Wednesday, a group of Republican national security community members, including former government officials, blasted the idea.

"Controlling our border and preventing illegal immigration is a serious issue, but his insistence that Mexico will fund a wall on the southern border inflames unhelpful passions, and rests on an utter misreading of, and contempt for, our southern neighbour," they wrote in an open letter critical of Trump.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Arkansas man died after jail denied medical help: lawsuit

    World News CTV News
    HOUSTON -- The family of an Arkansas man has filed a federal lawsuit in Texas accusing a for-profit jail and at least 12 guards and nurses of denying him adequate medical care as his health worsened and leaving him to die in his cell. Source
  • Death row pit bull now a top cop

    World News Toronto Sun
    Things were not looking good for Apollo. The pit bull was on death row near Seattle, WA, on the verge of being euthanized when a miracle happened. Abandoned, the friendly dog was considered unadoptable, Inside Edition reports. Source
  • Jordan's Principle could have prevented Ontario suicides, rights tribunal says

    Canada News CBC News
    The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal says the federal government's failure to fully implement Jordan's Principle may have contributed to the suicides of two teenagers in Wapekeka First Nation earlier this year. The principle lays out how to proceed when a jurisdictional dispute arises over paying for services to First Nations children, saying the first government to be contacted should pay, with arguments over jurisdiction to be sorted out later. Source
  • Girl, 16, arrested in connection with Ottawa homicide

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA - Police in Ottawa say they've arrested a 16-year-old girl and are still looking for a boy and a man in a homicide investigation. They say the girl turned herself in on Friday morning. Source
  • If FBI wants to talk to Jared Kushner about Russian contacts, lawyer says he's ready [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON - If the FBI wants to talk to Jared Kushner about his Russian contacts, they won’t have to track down the president’s son-in-law. Amid reports the FBI is scrutinizing Kushner’s encounters, his lawyer says he stands ready to talk to federal investigators as well as Congress about his contacts and his role in Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. Source
  • Vancouver model misidentified as Manchester bomber's sister

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    A Vancouver model has set the record straight after mistakenly being linked to the Manchester, England, bombing at an Ariana Grande concert this week. Janice Joostema spoke to Global News BC to explain how she was incorrectly identified by two Italian newspapers as the sister of the suicide bomber. Source
  • Saskatchewan man charged over online threats against PM Trudeau

    Canada News CTV News
    SASKATOON -- A Saskatchewan man is facing charges after online threats were made against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Mounties say New Brunswick RCMP notified the National Security Enforcement Section in March about alleged threats on social media, but there was no direct contact between the suspect and Trudeau. Source
  • Video shows Ontario hunter 'slapped around' by bear

    Canada News CTV News
    A northern Ontario hunter who was looking to bag a black bear ended up being “slapped around” by one instead. Richard Wesley was hunting with a bow and arrow in Fire River, Ont., when he spotted a bear coming toward him on a road. Source
  • Canada Post has unveiled new Eid stamp commemorating Muslim festivals

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Canada Post announced a stamp to commemorate the Muslim festivals of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha just in time for the holy month of Ramadan. The unveiling was made on Tuesday at simultaneous events in Montreal and Richmond Hill, Ont. Source
  • Toronto to keep funding Pride parade amid controversy over police participation

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO - Canada's largest Pride parade will continue to receive an annual grant from the City of Toronto despite calls to cut the funding over a decision to ban uniformed police officers from the event. Source