The longest government shutdown in United States history began on December 22, 2018 due to an appropriation bill that did not include $5.7 billion allocated toward a border wall. President Trump wants this funding for a physical barrier; the Democrats in Congress do not. At the time of this article, the government continues to be shutdown.
After Donald Trump won the 2016 U.S. General Election, the issue of a nearly 2,000-mile long border wall between the U.S. and Mexico increasingly became a key topic of political discussion. Most liberals and anti-Trumpers oppose the idea of a physical wall. They supplement their position with reasons such as cost, construction-issues over certain areas, the limited impact that the wall will have against illegal immigration, and the hateful or racist symbol of separation between two countries. This article will serve as an introductory explanation to the first argument listed above against the border wall: cost.
The wall is estimated to cost between $10 to $40 billion with lifetime maintenance costs expected to exceed $50 billion. In other words, this wall ain’t going to be cheap (improper grammar intended). However, relative to our annual federal expenditures, the cost of the wall is fairly minuscule. In fiscal year 2016, the government spent $3.9 trillion: $916 billion on social security (24%), $1 trillion on the combination of Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Affordable Care Act (26%), and $605 billion on defense and international security-related activities (16%). The FY16 expenditures also include safety-net programs which provide money to families in financial hardship ($366 billion, or 9%) and the accrued interest on our national debt ($240 billion, or 6%). In other words, the potential cost of the wall is manageable and reasonably fundable with proper allocation of federal funds.
Whether or not it’s worth it to spend billions of dollars toward a physical barrier to deter illegal immigration is the relevant question. If a national border wall deters terrorists or violent criminals from entering the country illegally and murdering innocent U.S. citizens, then one could argue that it is worth it even if those terrorists and violent criminals make up the minority population of all illegal immigrants in the United States. Personally, I don’t lock my front door to protect myself from all the friendly people in my neighborhood. I lock my door to prevent at least one not-so-friendly stranger from entering my home, especially if I’m in the shower.
Note: I will provide introductory explanations for the other arguments listed in my thesis statement in future articles.