Will Building a Wall at the CA/Mexico Border Stop Drugs from Coming In?

Do we build it or not? It is a question of ongoing debate across the country, one of 100 or more things Trump has stated since taking office that has heavily split the nation: whether or not installing a wall along the border of the US and Mexico will serve any positive purpose or if it will just cost an exorbitant amount of money.  

According to Trump, among other things, this proposed “big, beautiful wall” is supposedly going to block the flow of illicit drugs from entering our country via overland routes and thus stem the rising tide of addiction and overdose. But is that really the case, or is the wall just a big show of force intended to demonstrate power with the end result being that very little will be accomplished other than a siphoning of funds from an already strained federal budget?

Though we cannot know what the outcome of installing a wall will be until it happens, here are some things we do know for sure:  

  • The border is already heavily guarded. Currently, all along the Mexican/US border there is heavy monitoring. So much so that drug cartels are exceptionally creative when they attempt to cross with drugs. They disguise baggies of marijuana and cocaine to look like vegetables and fruit or hide them in compartments all over trucks. It is estimated that a truck crosses the border every 15 seconds – far too many trucks for guards to stop every single one at every single crossing point. The problem is not that drug cartels are “sneaking” across the border at unmonitored points, but that drug dealers are playing a numbers game in which they send a number of different trucks over the border and hope that enough get through to turn a profit. Perhaps rather than having a wall that limits the number of crossing points, the goal should be to increase the number of crossing points and increase the number of guards available to search vehicles that could be carrying drugs.  
  • Cartels are going under the border. That is, rather than taking their chances at border crossings, many are tunneling beneath the border to come out on the other side without detection. A wall will do little to deter this process.  
  • Border guards are being bribed. Again, it is more about the people who stand guard at the border than any wall. Not only are there too few border guards to get the job done but many who do work at crossing points are being paid off by drug cartels to either overlook shipments or avoid cars that are known carriers of substances. In some cases, guards are being paid to “seize” drugs and then hand them back to the cartels on the US side of the border.  
  • Drugs are coming into the country by sea. The US Coast Guard had a record year in 2016, seizing more drugs than ever before in its history on the open water, and they may have already beaten last year’s numbers in 2017 with months still left to go in the year. The flow of drugs is so enormous that it is overwhelming the resources available to the Coast Guard. Top-ranking Coast Guard members have lamented their inability to intercept more of these shipments, but the massive area that must be covered and the continually improving smuggling techniques, such as semi-submersible submarines, make it impossible to do so with the number of ships in the current USCG fleet. 
  • Drugs are not the only things being smuggled into the country. Because our current immigration laws are restrictive and serve the purpose of limiting numbers rather than helping immigrants and refugees to integrate into the community healthfully, it is not just drugs that are smuggled into our country via tunnels, boat, and containers on trucks. People, too, are a commodity, and those who are willing to smuggle them across the border take their payment up front and do almost nothing to make sure they are safe or cared for along the way. Building a wall will also do little to address this issue.  

What Do You Think about Building a Border Wall?

Do you believe the wall will serve any positive purpose in stopping drugs from coming into California and the US at large? Or, do you believe it is little more than a “block of cheese with holes in it” that takes funding from other important projects that would have a far greater impact? 

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