Trump’s border wall was a complete waste of time and money
"For much of his administration, the construction of hundreds of miles of steel-and-concrete barriers has symbolized futility and waste — a massive, publicly funded undertaking whose payoff in deterring illegal border-crossing was unproven at best, ineffective at worst. Now, as crews dynamite, bulldoze and raze their way through pristine canyons, riverbeds, mountains, deserts and grasslands to gain access to construction sites, Mr. Trump’s wall has become a symbol of wanton environmental destruction.
President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to halt the wall’s construction immediately upon taking office. That hasn’t stopped or slowed what amounts to a full-court press to complete as much of the wall as possible before Mr. Trump leaves office Jan. 20. However, for every new mile of wall construction, far more damage and degradation is done to the landscape by a dozen or so contractors carving their way through wilderness and wildlife areas with access roads, retaining walls and other eyesores.
The folly of the project is glaring. Even as more miles of wall are completed, the number of unauthorized migrants apprehended after crossing the border has spiked in recent months to the highest level in years. Driven by the ravages of pandemic, hurricanes, economic ruin and violence in Central America and Mexico, migrants keep coming, wall or no wall.
What’s more, precious little strategic thought has informed decisions about where to add to, enhance or build new barriers. Although illegal crossing is rife in South Texas, particularly around the town of McAllen, little construction has taken place there because local ranchers and other landowners have fought wall construction affecting their property. Far more building is taking place in Arizona and New Mexico, where the federal government controls much more land along the frontier with Mexico. In other words, construction is underway not where it might be needed but where resistance has been slight.
All but about 40 of the some 440 miles of newly built barriers have replaced or upgraded previously existing fencing and bollards, though in most cases the new structures are certainly imposing. Whether they stop or deter many migrants will be difficult to ascertain. What’s indisputable, according to wildlife experts, is that by severing and damaging natural habitats, they will have devastating effects on various species, including jaguar, ocelot, javelinas and pronghorns. Some of those are endangered.
For taxpayers, to whom Mr. Trump promised that Mexico would foot the bill — it hasn’t paid a dime — the wall has been a raw deal. The administration managed to devote some $15 billion to construction, an amount that was supposed to be sufficient to build more than 700 miles of barriers. As The Post reported, roughly $3.3 billion of those funds — some diverted from building projects on U.S. military bases worldwide — will remain unused when Mr. Biden takes office. However, of that amount, $700 million will be required to unwind existing construction contracts, leaving a savings — if you can call it that — of about $2.6 billion."