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The True Cost of the Border Wall

Clara Bonfili, Grade 10, Staff Writer

 

In October of this year, the Department of Homeland Security announced that construction will resume on the Trump-era border wall. This sparked feelings of betrayal in some of President Biden's supporters largely because of his original opposition to doing so. Common Sense reports on how our community feels about these policies.


During his campaign for the presidency, for example, Biden declared that “not another foot” of the border wall would be built during his time in office. As a result, voters who trusted him to stay true to his word now feel that this trust has been broken.


Biden supporters opposed to resuming construction of the wall argue that it is both ineffective and inhumane. According to The Atlantic, the materials used to build the walls are relatively easy to break though, defeating its primary purpose. In addition, opponents of the wall claim that it fails to address critical issues that drive undocumented immigration, including excessively restrictive immigration-prevention laws and the “push-factors” that are forcing people to leave their home countries in the first place.


Additionally, much of the wall passes through private property. This poses a legal issue, as constructing a wall over such land would require the owners of this property to willingly give it up or force the government to exercise eminent domain, undermining private property rights. 


The Biden administration, however, argues that the decision to resume construction is not the president's choice to make. As argued in a statement by the U.S. Department of State, issued after the resumption of construction was announced, this decision was “mandated by law”. When funding was allocated for the border wall, it was decided that the money could only be used for this purpose. The Biden administration approached Congress to attempt to reallocate these funds, but they refused, forcing the administration to resume construction of the wall.


This argument, however, fails to acknowledge the fact that while the funds can not be reappropriated, they also need not be spent at all. This has led some to believe that the efforts to resume construction are part of a tactic to appeal to a larger voter base in the next presidential election, and are therefore entirely intentional on the part of the administration.


The idea that this was the sitting government's choice is reinforced by Biden’s decision to not only allow for construction to resume, but to expedite it. In order to achieve this, the president agreed to waive 26 other laws. These laws included the Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and Endangered Species Act, which each attempted to safeguard their namesake. These are only three of the total laws the administration is bypassing to construct the wall, and these alone will have adverse environmental effects. 


Additionally, many critics point out that the current inhabitants of this land are being cast aside in favor of constructing the wall. Two other laws that the administration waived include the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and the American Indian Religious Freedom Act. Both of these had protected the rights of Indigenous people living on or around this area, as well as their heritage and cultural practices, but are now being sacrificed in favor of 20 more miles of border wall.


Picture Credits: The New York Post

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