We are All Going to Pay for Trump’s Wall

Last week, CNN reported that the President-elect is seeking congressional funding for his proposed wall along the Mexico – U.S. border, breaking one of his most frequently and famously uttered campaign promises.

According to the report, U.S. taxpayers would have to front the $14 billion for the wall— although Trump promises, “Any money spent on building the Great Wall (for sake of speed), will be paid back by Mexico later.” But don’t be fooled. Although it seems everyone is talking about the burden on U.S. taxpayers, the wall’s costs will be far more disastrous.

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox went viral after he announced, “Neither myself nor Mexico are going to pay for his racist monument . . . Be clear with US tax payers. They will pay for it.” Political commentator Ana Navarro also went in on Twitter, suggesting Trump voters have been duped and will end up paying for the border wall after all. While the exact funding for the wall is yet to be determined, the costs and consequences would undoubtedly stretch beyond financials.

For starters, there would be an (increased) human cost. I’ve previously written about how treacherous the border-crossing journey can be, especially for women. Migrants endure extreme temperatures and a hostile environment; many are subjected to assault, rape, robbery, and other forms of abuse and violence. Thousands have died and disappeared in the desert. Trump’s border wall would only make matters worse. Research shows that migrants aren’t deterred by increased enforcement at the border; it only serves to push border-crossers into more remote and dangerous places, leading to increased deaths and human suffering. A wall won’t stop migrants, but it will create more dangerous crossing conditions.

There would be an environmental cost. The existing wall along the Mexico- U.S. border has disrupted the movement and mating patterns of a variety of species. Scientists note that Trump’s proposal to expand the wall could “threaten the survival of endangered species and disturb fragile ecosystems in the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico.” Although the wall is intended to halt human movement (which it doesn’t), it would also adversely affect the natural movement of species that depend on traveling across borders to survive. Wildlife biologist Dr. Clint Epps argues that this freedom of movement will become even more important as the climate continues to warm and species depend on migration to find suitable habitat. Lastly, manmade barriers disrupt pollination and obstruct watersheds and waterways, causing floods that can also destroy habitat. Our environment will be forced to pay the price of Trump’s wall.

Native communities would suffer. The Tohono O’odham Nation extends for 75 miles along the border with Mexico. While the militarization of the border already prevents the O’odham people from freely visiting relatives and sacred sites in Mexico, Trump’s proposed wall would make it more difficult for tribe members to perform these activities. In an interview with The Washington Post, Amy Juan, an O’odham tribe member, said the effects of a border wall would be “be bigger than ourselves. As a people, as a community, it would be a literal separation from our home. Half of the traditional lands of our people lie in Mexico.” Although federal law requires the government to consult with tribal leaders before making changes to land use, Standing Rock showed us the state’s disregard for treaties and native land rights.

Inmates could be forced to build the proposed wall. Massachusetts Sheriff Thomas Hodgson has offered free inmate labor to help build Trump’s proposed border wall. The Root reports that during his swearing-in ceremony, Hodgson said he can “think of no other project that would have such a positive impact on our inmates and our country than building this wall.” The ACLU of Massachusetts responded by blasting the Sheriff’s proposal as “inhumane,” “unconstitutional,” and “modern-day slave labor.” Even if Hodgson’s plan is never implemented, it reveals how prisoners (who are disproportionately people of color) are abused and exploited by politicians, law enforcement officers, and big businesses. Trump’s wall could serve to further violate their (and migrants’) human rights.

Although Trump’s wall is still just an idea, as feminists, we should work together to shut it down before it becomes more concrete.We can start by voicing our support and donating to No More Deaths and other organizations that document human rights violations along the border and provide life-saving aid to migrants. The costs go far beyond $14 billion in taxpayer money; it’s a disastrous proposal that would adversely affect us all, especially those who are most vulnerable- prisoners, native communities, and migrants. And that’s something we should all rally against.

Header image via The New York Times. 

Durham, NC

Barbara is a doctoral student at The University of North Carolina interested in im/migration and migrant activism and organizing.

Barbara is a doctoral student at The University of North Carolina interested in im/migration and migrant activism and organizing.

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