Interior Secretary: Let’s Build Trump’s Wall In Mexico
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is making the rather surprising suggestion that the United States should build Donald Trump’s border wall on Mexican territory:
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Tuesday said America can’t give away the Rio Grande to Mexico in the process of building President Trump’s signature border wall, implying the structure could wind up standing partially on Mexican land.
“The border is complicated, as far as building a physical wall,” he said during a speech to the Public Land Council in Washington D.C., according to E&E News.
“The Rio Grande, what side of the river are you going to put the wall? We’re not going to put it on our side and cede the river to Mexico. And we’re probably not going to put it in the middle of the river.”
Zinke reportedly conceded that the administration could instead rely on electronic defenses or could skip building the wall in certain areas where terrain may make crossing improbable.
Thanks to a 1970 treaty negotiated between the United States and Mexico, the middle of the Rio Grande serves as the boundary in some places. That treaty, as well as the natural shifts of the river, served as a stumbling block to previous attempts to build border fencing and could complicate the Trump administration’s push for a wall.
Trump made the construction of a border wall to stem the flow of illegal immigration a centerpiece of his presidential campaign. Once in the Oval Office, Trump almost immediately signed an executive order calling for the wall to be built and the Department of Homeland Security has requested proposals.
However, the plan is likely to face a difficult path. Sen. Roy Blunt, the Missouri Republican who plays a major role on the Appropriations Committee, told reporters that congressional leadership is likely to agree on a government spending bill soon and would rather deal with that funding as a supplemental bill later.
To be honest, this is an issue that I haven’t even considered until now when the subject of the wall has come up in the past. In part, that’s because I continue to believe that we’re not actually going to see a “wall” constructed at all and that all we’ll really see will be something that amounts to enhancing the security of areas where we’ve already built a fence along the border, an expansion in the use of electronic surveillance and other methods to make up for the fact that Border Patrol agents can’t be in two places at once, and an increase in Border Patrol surveillance in others. We’re unlikely to see the ‘big, beautiful’ wall that Trump spoke about throughout his campaign quite simply because the existing border fence in the areas where border crossings have been most prevalent, and the impracticalities of constructing such a structure in many parts of the U.S.-Mexican border. Add into that the fact that Trump’s claim that he’s going to get Mexico to pay for this boondoggle is utter nonsense, and it was quite easy to ignore the entire thing. Zinke’s comments make it seem as though they’re actually going to try do this, so we’re all going to have to think about it at some point.
In any case, as the linked article notes, by the terms of a treaty that is now more than forty years old the border between the United States and Mexico runs in the middle of the Rio Grande. Putting the wall on the southern side of the river means building the wall on Mexican territory, which would essentially amount to an act of war barred by international treaty and international law. If you think the Mexicans reacted badly to the idea of paying for Trump’s Wall, that would be nothing compared to the protests that would likely erupt in Mexican cities over the idea that the United States is going to invade their country and steal their territory. And they would be absolutely right to be upset about it.
If nothing else, this proves just how impractical and idiotic Trump’s Wall is. Not only won’t it actually stop people from coming here illegally, but it would ruin our relationship with one of our closest trading partners, perhaps irreparably. If Congress is smart, which is admittedly a big ‘if,’ they’ll tell Trump to forget about this silly, even dangerous, idea and move on to real immigration reform. Don’t count on it, though.