How Effective Is The US-Mexico Border Wall?

The Mexico–United States border wall has been built to prevent illegal immigration, drug smuggling and other criminal activities. The wall comprises a series of walls and fences across the Mexico-US border. It is important to note that this wall is not a continuous structure. It is there in some areas whereas completely non-existent in others. Much of the wall is there in places that have higher incidence of border crossing events.

With millions spent on the Mexico–United States border wall, one wonders how effective these are in preventing illegal immigrants and drugs. To answer that, here are some important things to understand.

Part of a security framework – No wall can be effective on its own. The Mexico–United States border wall is part of a security system and not a foolproof security on its own. The border wall network comprises various other assets such as sensors, cameras and various other types of surveillance equipment. All of these have to work in combination to achieve the desired results.

Assessment by various organizations – Over the years, a number of organizations have assessed the effectiveness of the Mexico–United States border wall. Some claim it to be ineffective, whereas others have a positive opinion. For example, the American Economic Journal found that the wall helped reduce illegal immigration by around 15 to 35 percent. Similarly, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency also feels that the border walls have been helpful in reducing illegal immigration.

Misuse of legal ports of entry – Illegal immigrants can enter the country through various other means. For example, they can forge documents to get entry from a legal port of entry in the United States. Some migrants also enter the country as stowaways. Some people overstay their travel visas. A border wall cannot be of any use in such cases.

Tunnelling, drones, boats and aircrafts – The border wall can be bypassed with a little effort. For example, the age-old technique of tunneling can be deployed to bypass the border wall. Similarly, rivers can be used as a means to cross over to the United States on boats. The US and Mexico share a long border across the Rio Grande, which is impossible to monitor at all times. There have been cases where small aircrafts have also been used to fly over the border wall. For smuggling drugs and other contraband, drones can be used to bypass the border wall.

Brute force attacks – There have been cases where organized gangs have used standard power tools to cut through the wall fencing. However, the wall does make it difficult. It provides more time to law enforcement agencies to detect an intrusion and take remedial measures.

As is evident from above, the US-Mexico border wall is useful to some extent. However, it is not a foolproof security system on its own. As mentioned earlier, better results can be achieved by combining the border wall with modern surveillance equipment.

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