Remember the Wall?

More evidence that walls don't work as well as claimed.

One may recall that in the Before Times one of the things we debated was the efficacy of border walls and the degree to which the investment that Trump wishes to poor into one along the Mexican border is a good investment. Despite promises otherwise, and as skeptics such as myself have pointed out, where there is a will, there is way to get over, under, or through the wall

Via WaPo from mid-April: Smugglers sawed into Trump’s border wall 18 times in one month in San Diego area, records show.

Smugglers sawed into new sections of President Trump’s border wall 18 times in the San Diego area during a single one-month span late last year, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection records obtained by The Washington Post via a Freedom of Information Act request.

The breaches and attempted breaches were made between Sept. 27 and Oct. 27, according to CBP records, with five of the incidents occurring on a single day, Oct. 10. The agency withheld information about the specific locations of the incidents, citing law enforcement sensitivities. The agency said the average cost to repair the damage was $620 per incident.


The Post reported last November that smuggling crews armed with common battery-operated power tools — including reciprocating saws that retail for as little as $100 at home improvement stores — can cut through the bollards using inexpensive blades designed for slicing through metal and stone.

Fundamentally I am of the view that smuggling along the border is never going to stop, no matter what is spent, and so one has to make investments where they will do the most good. If one is concerned with drugs, then money for ports is a more efficient way to spend because most drugs enter through otherwise licit means, not out in the desert. And if illegal immigration is the concern, then find ways to allow labor to legally enter the country, as anything else is trying to combat laws of supply and demand.

Quite frankly, the best defense against illegal immigration is our current level of unemployment. People do no come when there are no jobs.

Regardless, the ongoing fantasy that physical barriers will solve these problems is just that.

And by the way: Mexico is still not paying for it.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, US Politics, , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. CSK says:

    Trump wants the wall painted black, which will tack an extra 500 million to 3 billion onto the cost of it.

  2. Kari Q says:


    Not gold? Or with a giant mural of his own image? Seems like he missed an opportunity there.

  3. Kathy says:

    Dishonest Don promised a wall
    Dishonest Don had a great fall.
    All of Biden’s doctors and all of Biden’s men,
    Could not put Dishonest Don together again.

  4. Michael Reynolds says:

    If only absolutely everyone had predicted this.

  5. CSK says:

    @Kari Q:
    It may be he thinks a black wall will look more menacing to the invaders. But I agree: It’s odd he passed up such a glorious branding opportunity.

  6. Joe says:

    I am more interested in what Mexico paints on their side.

  7. gVOR08 says:

    @Kari Q: Trump said the black paint would absorb sunlight and make the wall too hot for people to climb. Besides the heat not bothering a sawzall, I would have thought most illegal wall climbers would do it at night. When black makes it harder to see them.

  8. Kathy says:


    Two words: oven mitts.

  9. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Or it could be that he doesn’t want his brand associated with an obviously hairbrained scheme.

    He may be smarter than we think he is. (And that still wouldn’t be that high of a bar to jump.)

  10. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    I think his need to plaster his name all over everything supersedes any vestige of intellect. He probably wanted to put his name on it, and multiple people talked him out of it. After all, building the wall was his signature campaign promise. How could he disavow it?

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Or it could be that he doesn’t want his brand associated with an obviously hairbrained scheme.

    trump vodka, trump steaks, trump laundering services, trump recycled condoms… Oh hell, damn near every single *business venture* he’s ever engaged in argue otherwise.

    **otherwise known as fraud.

  12. Kathy says:


    I move we rename SARS-CoV2 “Trump Virus,” and the COVID-19 Pandemic “The Trump Pandemic”

    All in favor?

  13. CSK says:

    Count me in.

  14. EddieInCA says:


    Smugglers and crossers will wear black clothing, black masks, black rope, and travel over it at night. Unless you light up every square inch, black paint would make it harder to catch anyone during any time other than a full moon.

  15. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy: I’m in. Someone in these threads made a similar suggestion a few weeks ago. I replied that naming it so was not political, simply a convenient way of noting when the pandemic occurred. It’s no different than naming recessions. It’s like we’d say the Reagan recession, the HW Bush recession, the W Bush recession, the Second W Bush recession, or now the Trump Recession. If you think you see a pattern there, it’s only because every Republican since WWII had a recession start on his watch.

  16. Kathy says:


    You even have precedent. One of the first devastating hits by the Plague was called The Plague of Justinian. a few centuries earlier, the Roman Empire suffered the Antonine Plague, anmed for the Antonine dynasty (they of the Five Good Emperors). If there are no or few more such examples, it’s because hegemonic powers like Rome or America tend to be rare.

  17. Joe says:

    @Kathy: Is there any reason we can’t just call these times generally The Plague of Trump?

  18. de stijl says:

    East Germany missed out on a massive branding opportunity. Israel too.

    I see a race baiting wall /
    And I wanted painted black

    If you deliberately make something black in fiction you are the baddie.

  19. Kathy says:


    Well, did trump preside (so to speak) over a plague, did he cause a plague, or is he a plague?

    The answer, as the Vorlons well taught us, is: Yes.

  20. Michael Reynolds says:
  21. de stijl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    That was awesome! Love the contrast.

    I wear some combination of black, gray, khaki, and olive outdoors. But I do sport funky pjs which always embarrass me when I have answer the occasional unexpected door knock.

    Cannot tell you why other than it just feels right and correct.

    But a border wall built by a nation is as much a message as it is a barrier.

    If you want to dissuade folks from entering I would go garish hyper neon magenta.

  22. de stijl says:

    The Trump Wall always reminds me of Holidays In The Sun by the Sex Pistols.

    In my first week at my first office job I was beavering away diligently with headphones on and my supervisor’s supervisor walks up to check in and say “hi, welcome aboard” and she opens up with a benign ice breaker “What are you listening to?”

    I felt obligated to answer truthfully.

    “The Sex Pistols, ma’am.”

    Her brain went bzzt for a second, but she recovered well. Peggy was a really good egg I found out later. But I had made a memorable first impression.

    I burned through so many AA batteries back then. I did the math. In 1986 it was slightly more beneficial to buy the cheap ass generics rather than branded spendy batteries with the downside that you had to change out more often.

    Back then we threw dead batteries in general trash like idiots.

    I had two suits, three ties, five shirts, and one pair of appropriate shoes.