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International Relations

U.S. Mexico Border

U.S. Mexico Border


  • GS2 || International Relations || International Politics || USA in World Affairs

Why in news?

  • Since his swearing-in as President, Trump is wasting no time in enforcing his numerous campaign promises. One such order is the use of federal resources to construct a Mexican border wall.

How long will it be?

  • The border with Mexico is roughly 1,900 miles long and spans fours state: California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
  • The entire border between U.S. and Mexico extends from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean.

Why build a wall in the first place?

  • A U.S Department of Homeland Security report estimated that 170,000 people successfully entered the U.S. illegally from the southern border in 2015.
  • There were approximately 5.6 million “unauthorized immigrants” from Mexico by 2016, according to data from the Pew Research Center.
  • There were 10.7 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. in 2016, representing 3.3% of the total U.S. population that year.
  • A rising share of unauthorized immigrants have lived in the U.S. for more than a decade. About two-thirds (66%) of unauthorized immigrant adults in 2016 had been in the U.S.

What state is the current wall in?

  • Currently 652 miles of the 1,954-mile U.S. Mexico border has some amalgamation of walls, fences and other barriers.
  • In areas closest to cities the wall has multiple layers.
  • The wall is the weakest in more desolate areas and in some areas there is no wall at all.
  • This is frequently because the terrain already provides a natural barrier, such as the widest parts of the Rio Grande River or steep mountain ranges.

Why do immigrants come to america?

  • Better standard of living
  • Better wages
  • Unemployment in their native country/countries

Why this wall would be least effective?

  • Analysts believe the majority (possibly vast majority) of illegal immigrants enter America by air. There are two kinds of illegal immigration. President Trump’s rhetoric focuses on “entries without inspection.” But most illegal immigrants actually arrive in America with a visa – and then simply don’t leave. These are called “overstays.”
  • Also, the states where illegal immigration is growing are not on the Mexican border.
  • Americans also seem divided by the wall. According to a poll 47% of voters support building a wall, with 45% against.

The wall and politics

  • Throughout his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump called for the construction of a much larger and fortified border wall, claiming that if elected, he would “build the wall and make Mexico pay for it.“

Shutdown and possible emergency

  • Recently, Trump wants Congress to approve $5 billion for the project, but Democrats are offering only $1.3 for border security.
  • Hence, a shutdown was triggered after the U.S. President was refused funding for his border wall by the Congress.
  • He also threatened to call a national emergency and urged to build the wall very quickly, even though the legality of such a step is uncertain.

Additional information – What can be done?

  • If the main intention is to stop illegal border immigrants into the U.S., the best (and least costly) policy would be to cooperate with Mexico to capture these immigrants as they flee Central America and find a solution for either housing them in Mexico or returning them to their country of origin.
  • It is ridiculous to expect Mexico to pay for a wall when it is not Mexico’s citizens creating the purported illegal immigration problem on the border.