publicidad
Karen Herrera, 23, and her infant son Ivan, on the border in San Diego, California, talking to family members on the Mexican side.

Would a 2,000-mile-long border wall even work?

Would a 2,000-mile-long border wall even work?

Thousands of U.S. agents already patrol the border region where billions of dollars have been spent.

Karen Herrera, 23, and her infant son Ivan, on the border in San Diego,...
Karen Herrera, 23, and her infant son Ivan, on the border in San Diego, California, talking to family members on the Mexican side.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is sticking to the promise he made on the first day of his campaign: He will build a wall. “On day one, we will begin working on an impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful southern border wall,” he said last week. That would be a 1,989-mile-long wall, from coast to coast.

But building that wall would be very complicated. The U.S. government has already been reinforcing security along its southern border for the past 20 years. It now has about 21,000 border patrol agents, radars, watch towers, spotlights, helicopters, drones – and yes, even a wall.

Lee esta nota en español

In fact, there are already about 700 miles of metal fencing or metal plates and other physical barriers between the United States and Mexico.

Congress approved the construction of a border fence in 2006. Majorities of both parties, including then-Senator Hillary Clinton, voted for the law, which called for a barrier along some 700 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. By 2011, Border Patrol chief Michael Fisher reported to Congress that 650 miles had been built.

But the Department of Homeland Security reported in 2011 that the border was still “vulnerable to illegal activity, including the smuggling of people and illegal drugs,” according to a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).

And while Trump has forcefully made and repeated his promise of a longer wall, the existing barrier has created many headaches for the U.S. government. The so-called Secure Border Initiative cost $4.5 trillion from 2005 to 2010 alone, according to official figures.

publicidad

Here are some of the challenges Trump could face in building an expanded wall.

1. The Rio Grande

Most of the U.S.-Mexico border is defined by water, not land. The Rio Grande marks the border between Texas and northern Mexico for 1,254 miles. And only about 100 miles are covered by the existing wall.

In fact, treaties between the United States and Mexico forbid the construction of a fence or wall on both the river and along the riverbed.

That would make it pretty hard for Trump to build his wall in many stretches of the border, says Tony Payán, who heads the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center and teaches on both sides of the border.

“Is it possible to build a border wall? Yes,” Payán says. “Is it possible to build it along the 1,200-mile banks of the Rio Grande? No.”

In places like El Paso, Texas, there is a strip of land between the U.S. side of the river and the fence. But in other places the fence was built several miles from the water.

“What's the use of building a wall ten miles north of the river?” asked Payán.

2. Private properties

In Nogales, Arizona, the backyards and even the kitchens of Mexican homes can be seen across the border wall. Hundreds of American families live close to the current fence.

“Parts of the border, particularly in Texas … are part of private lands … ranches, where the ranchers do not necessarily want to have fencing or a wall close to them," said Doris Meissner, who headed the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from 1993 to 2000 and is now a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington D.C. "If the federal government would decide to build there, it would [have to] exercise eminent domain.”

publicidad

Obtaining the land to build just a few miles of wall in the past turned into a major headache for U.S. officials: the government had to file lawsuits against hundreds of landowners. In one case, the government had to pay a woman $56,000 for three acres in San Benito, Texas, that had been in her family for generations.

3. Rough topography and endangered wildlife

“The varied topography of the borderlands—ranging from steep mountains to deep canyons and rivers—make building a barrier in some areas extremely difficult,” professors Joseph Nevins and Timothy Dunn wrote in a 2008 report published by the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA).

The wall also has caused flooding in southern Arizona after strong rains because it blocks the flow of the water.

The border fence also affects desert wildlife, including jaguars, along parts of the border like the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in southern Arizona. That has sparked protests since 2005.

La barrera desde el lado estadounidense en un punto del desierto entre Y...
The border fence between Yuma, Arizona, and Calexico, California.

4. Local opposition

Some locals protested when parts of the wall were built in the 2000s, according to Anna Ochoa O'Leary, a researcher at the University of Arizona.

“The people of Arizona opposed it and there were protests, petitions to the government, lots of meeting with the Border Patrol where residents told the officials about their problems and concerns,” said Ochoa O'Leary.

Most border residents remain opposed to the wall. About 86 percent of those who live on the Mexican side and 72 percent of those on the U.S. side do not want a border wall, according to an April survey by Cronkite News at Arizona State University, Univision Noticias and the Dallas Morning News.

Un agente patrulla en abril de 2013 en La Joya, Texas
An agent patrols in La Joya, Texas in April 2013.

5. A more deadly crossing

More than 6,000 people have died crossing the U.S.-Mexico border since 1998, according to a 2014 International Organization for Migration report.

Several studies link the militarization of the border to the large number of border deaths, says a March report by four university professors in the Journal of Latin American Geography. The report linked the rising number of deaths during border crossings to increased border security since 2006, including the construction of the walls and fences, the deployment of more border agents and the use of new equipment.

Other experts agree there is a correlation between increased border security and border deaths.

"It’s not just the fencing," said Meissner. "It’s the whole border effort which has pushed the trafficking of migrants to more and more remote areas, which tend to be deserts and dangerous areas, so deaths have increased."

publicidad

6. High costs

The GAO reported in 2009 that the costs of building the wall were far higher than expected, and that land acquisitions had added a significant cost to the project.

The cost of the wall varied by section. From 2006 and 2010, the government spent between $3.9 million and $16 million of taxpayer money for each mile of fence built. In comparison, one mile of a two-lane road can cost some $2 million to $5 million.

There are also required maintenance costs due to the natural wear and tear or damage caused by migrants and drug traffickers. A 2006 Congressional Research Service study put the overall cost of one mile of fence at somewhere between $16 million and $70 million every 25 years.

Each mile of the wall Trump promises to build would cost even more because he has promised improvements. "We will use the best technology, including above- and below-ground sensors," Trump said last week.

7. Native American land

The Native American Tohono O’Odham tribe lives on both sides of the border near Nogales, Arizona. “They did not cross the border,” Payán said. “The border crossed them.”

A wall would divide their land. Tribe members have moved between the north and south sides for centuries to take their children to school, go to the doctor or visit relatives.

But it's increasingly difficult. Today, they can cross if they have cards identifying them as members of the tribe, according to the website Open Borders. The page also notes that about 30 other Native American tribes have been affected by increased U.S. border security.

publicidad

8. Migration

The National Research Council, which brings together experts on many fields, published a 2011 study arguing that a wall does not dissuade migrants from trying to cross the border, and only makes it more difficult and expensive. What's more, violence in migrants' home countries, especially in Central America, is likely worse than situations on the border.

The study also argued that the wall also keeps people from returning to their home countries.

In recent years, the number of detentions of undocumented migrants along the border has dropped far below the peak years from 1995 to 2006. Border apprehensions have fallen 80% since a peak in 2000, according to David Aguilar, former Chief of the United States Border Patrol during the George W Bush administration.

In the 2015-2016 fiscal year apprehensions at the border are expected to number around 380,000 people, down from 1.6 million in 2000. A 2,000 mile border wall is "ludicrous," Aguilar told Public Radio International on Thursday.

"That is not necessary and it would be a tremendous waste of treasure ... it would not help the situation as it relates to control and management of our borders," added Aguilar who is a principal at Global Security and Innovative Strategies (GSIS) a security consulting and business advisory firm headquartered in Washington, DC.

Undocumented immigrants detained on the southern border
SOURCE: Border Patrol, by fiscal year | UNIVISION

There are many reasons for the drop, and not just the wall, experts say.

“It's very probable that the wall has a lot to do with this, but the arguments for building more wall cannot be based solely on detention statistics,” security consultant Sylvia Longmire wrote in her book Border Insecurity.

Most experts say a variety of factors has affected the number of detentions. The Great Recession reduced the attraction of the U.S. economy and more agents and technology are now on the lookout for illegal crossings.

Aguilar also points out that resources would be better spent on tackling the 500,000 people last year who flew into the country at national airports and overstayed their visas.

9. Drug traffickers

“As long as there are people in the United States ready to pay, drug traffickers will find a way to cross, although that will increase the price,” said Ochoa O'Leary. “It might put more power and more money in the hands of drug traffickers to design better strategies for smuggling drugs into the United States.”

publicidad

Tunnels along the border are common: at least 100 drug-smuggling tunnels were found under Nogales from 1990 to 2014, according to Border Patrol statistics. On Aug. 29, Border Patrol agents announced the discovery of a tunnel in Nogales that covered 103 feet on the Mexican side and 46 feet into U.S. territory. Smugglers have also used catapults to fling drugs into the United States as well as ultralights.

10. Intrepid climbers

It's happened more than once: young men quickly scale the border wall, in urban areas and broad daylight, carrying what is believed to be drugs on their backs. They are known as narco-spiders, and this video from Nogales shows the barrier is not that difficult to breach.

But migrants can die when they try to climb the wall. In Nogales, authorities found the body of a 32-year-old Mexican woman on June 16. Nogales police spokesman Sgt. Roberto Fierros said the woman apparently fell and hit her head.

Relacionado
The Texas golf course is stuck in no-man's land.
Why a golf course got stuck between the border fence and the Rio Grande
The town of Eagle Pass, Texas, fought to keep the fence out - but lost.
Relacionado
Cruce frontera
In Améxica, commuting requires patience and a passport
On the U.S.-Mexico border, residents are at the mercy of checkpoints that can take hours to cross.
publicidad
publicidad
Esto debido a labores de expansión que costarán 741 millones de dólares. El tránsito será desviado hacia el cruce más pequeño de Otay Mesa.
Two reporters from Univision News followed the track of Hurricane Maria, starting from the southeast where the eye made landfall all the way to the capital. This is what they saw from the road ...
An "extremely dangerous" Category 4 hurricane, Maria made landfall near Yabucoa in southeast Puerto Rico, causing widespread flooding across the U.S. territory of 3.4 million inhabitants. Maria caused rivers to flood all over the island. This video was taken in Guayama, on the south coast.
The 1998 hurricane killed 11,000 people in Honduras and Nicaragua and left more than a million homeless. As a result, the United States granted citizens from those countries living illegally in the U.S. temporary visas.
After a strong earthquake shook Mexico City, thousands of people evacuated their homes. The epicenter was 7.5 miles southeast of Axochiapan, in the state of Morelos.
Gabriela Miranda, madre de la estudiante mexicana Mara Castilla, exigió justicia en el caso de su hija y narró lo último que supo de la joven. Por su parte, la empresa Cabify activó un botón de pánico que permite conectar a los usuarios con la policía.
El Centro de Investigaciones Pew reveló que el 93% de los encuestados no confía en la labor a nivel internacional del presidente estadounidense. El estudio también mostró que en un 94%, los ciudadanos se oponen a la construcción del muro fronterizo.
Este lunes se conocieron nuevos detalles del chofer de Cabify que supuestamente acabó con la vida de la joven. Había sido arrestado previamente por robo de gasolina.
El asesinato de la joven Mara Castilla ha indignado a muchos mexicanos, que salieron a protestar a las calles. La madre de la joven, que también participó en la marcha, pidió justicia por el asesinato de su hija.
Mara Castilla fue encontrada sin vida luego de que se reportara su desaparición en el estado de Puebla el 8 de septiembre. El chofer de Cabify Ricardo Alexis es el sospechoso de llevarla a un motel y dejar su cadáver en un punto cercano. En redes sociales miles de personas protestan por el asesinato de la joven de 19 años de edad, mientras en las calles de Ciudad de México unas 2,000 personas se manifiestan contra los feminicidios en el país.
La enorme fotografía, instalada por el artista francés J.R. en la ciudad fronteriza de Tecate, se ha convertido en un ícono de la inmigración.
Orlando Martínez quería llegar a EEUU para volver a ver a sus hermanas. Con menos de 22 dólares en el bolsillo, compró una bicicleta para emprender el camino hasta el límite entre México y EEUU. En 27 días, el inmigrante recorrió más de 3 mil kilómetros en bicicleta hasta llegar al borde del Río Bravo.
Laurene Powell Jobs ha dedicado años de su vida a la educación y a proteger a inmigrantes. Habló con Jorge Ramos acerca del presidente Trump y de los dreamers en la frontera entre México y los Estados Unidos.
El padre de la joven relató que había sido secuestrada por unos hombres cuando salía de su casa. En el momento del supuesto secuestro, el padre estaba con ella y asegura que lo golpearon y lo dejaron tendido en el suelo.
Marc Short, director de asuntos legislativos de Trump, dijo que la Casa Blanca revelará, en las próximas dos semanas, sus propuestas para reemplazar DACA.
Had Irma tracked 50 miles further north along Cuba's coast, the results could have been dramatically different, meteorologists say, causing devastation to the densely populated Greater Miami region. Also by tracking up Florida's west coast close to the shoreline deprived Irma of the warm Gulf water that fuels storms. Here is a compilation of the hurricane satellite images shared by NASA on social media.
Antes y después: recorrido virtual por construcciones y estructuras afectadas tras el terremoto en México
Por medio de la tecnología se puede apreciar cómo eran los inmuebles y vías antes del sismo de magnitud 7,1 que azotó al país el pasado 19 de septiembre, el mismo día que se cumplieron 32 años del fuerte movimiento que dejó unos 10,000 fallecidos.
"Llegaron con despensas, se tomaron fotos y las volvieron a cargar", dicen en localidad entre Morelos y Puebla a días del terremoto en México
La voluntaria Gabriela Pérez asegura que miembros del DIF de Atlixco llevaron suministros y después manifestaron que eran para otra comunidad. Esta población ha recibido agua, medicamentos y ropa por parte de personas que se desplazan en sus propios vehículos.
La historia de Noé Carias, el pastor liberado tras ser detenido por ICE en una cita migratoria
Tres órdenes de expulsión que no cumplió pusieron al inmigrante guatemalteco al borde de la salida de Estados Unidos y preso durante 59 días en Adelanto, California. La abogada Noemí Rodríguez dijo que se le comunicó al Servicio de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas (ICE) que Carías no representa amenaza para la comunidad y está ligado al país norteamericano.
El celular le salvó la vida a una mujer que estuvo 17 horas bajo escombros por el terremoto en México
Loana Pacheco manifiesta que envió mensajes de texto a su esposo, pero no tenía señal. 16 horas y 20 minutos después del sismo, su cónyuge, Juan de Jesús, recibió los avisos y contactó a rescatistas. Media hora más tarde la sobreviviente ya había sido sacada del hueco que describe como triangular.
Huracán María se debilita a categoría 2 pero todavía puede afectar a la costa noreste de EEUU
El huracán avanza con vientos máximos sostenidos de 110 millas por hora (175 Km/h), se espera que vire al este el miércoles a la altura de Carolina del Norte donde podrían sentirse sus condiciones meteorológicas adversas.
Tormenta Pilar se forma en el Pacífico y dejará fuertes lluvias en la costa oeste de México
Se espera que se acerque al turístico Puerto Vallarta, en el estado de Jalisco, donde dejará lluvias en los próximos días. El Centro Nacional de Huracanes advirtió que "estas lluvias pueden causar inundaciones repentinas que causen peligro para la vida y deslaves". Hay una aviso de tormenta tropical para Michoacan, Colima, y zonas del oeste de Jalisco y Nayarit.
Gobernador de Puerto Rico y autoridades locales se contradicen sobre represa Guajataca tras el huracán María
Ricardo Roselló ha manifestado que unos 70,000 habitantes deben evacuar en Isabela y Quebradillas por el riesgo para la población que implican los daños en las compuertas de la presa. Juan Morales, secretario de Seguridad Pública de Isabela, expresa que los datos dados por la administración son falsos.
Denuncian robos en propiedades desocupadas por daños severos en Tlalpan, Ciudad de México, después del terremoto
El residente Emiliano Montes dice que se organizaron para que haya vigilancia en las residencias por las noches y que necesitan policías con el fin de hacerles frente a los intrusos. En otras zonas denuncian que delincuentes se han hecho pasar por personal de protección civil y rescatistas.
Univision Deportes subasta la Copa América Centenario para ayudar en Unidos por los Nuestros
Solo hay cuatro trofeos así en el mundo y el dinero recaudado será para los damnificados del terremoto en México y de los huracanes Harvey, Irma y María.
Santiago, el fan #1 de CR7 y víctima del terremoto en México
La familia del niño, que falleció en el Colegio Rebsamen, tras el sismo que azotó a CDMX busca que el astro lusitano conozca la idolatría que el pequeño Santiago sentía por él.
¡Asombroso! Delantero del DC United, Patrick Mullins marca cuatro goles en tiempo récord de MLS
El atacante estadounidense, terminó con una racha de 15 partidos sin marcar y lo hizo con estilo, al inscribir su nombre en la historia de la Major League Soccer.
El sismo unió a la familia del fútbol mexicano
La comunidad del balompié azteca se volcó en ayuda a los damnificados del terremoto del 19 de septiembre.