Are They Really Building a Wall?


Getty Images/iStockphoto

Fence separating United States and Mexico

Anusha, Mathias

The longest government shutdown in United States history, which has lasted more than a whopping 23 days (December 21st, 2018-present), seems to be the only thing that the media can talk about. Most people know the gist of the issue: President Trump wants 5.7 billion dollars added to the federal budget for a Border Wall and the Democrats in the House of Representatives won’t budge from 1.3 billion for border security, but no wall. But what is each side really proposing? Are they really building a wall?

When most people think of a border wall, an image of a giant concrete slab pops into their head while in reality, the proposed “border wall” that the Trump Administration and GOP (aka the Republicans) keep referring to, is actually still up in the air. Neither President Trump, his administration, nor the GOP has offered a clear idea of what they are going to build on the Mexican border.  At the beginning of his campaign in 2016 President Trump repeatedly stated that he was going to build a concrete wall along the Mexican border that Mexico was going to fund. However, President Trump over the past few months has changed that idea to “steel slats” which are spaced apart just enough so that border security can see through them but no one can pass through. But. these “steel slats” are already being used on the border, Other administrations have referred to these steel posts as “fencing” or “bollards”, But the Trump administration has called them a “border wall”. This has created an image of a solid concrete wall in many people’s minds that they can not let go of. The impression of a concrete wall has forced President Trump to wobble between saying he’s building a concrete wall and the more realistic steel slats. Even on December 31st, 2018 President Trump tweeted, “An all concrete Wall was NEVER ABANDONED, as has been reported by the media. Some areas will be all concrete but the experts at Border Patrol prefer a Wall that is see-through (thereby making it possible to see what is happening on both sides). Makes sense to me!” So, what the Trump Administration is going to build with the 5.7 billion dollars is still to be decided.

The Democrats, on the other hand, are proposing to extend the appropriations act they passed last year with both Republican and Democratic support. They gave the Trump administration 1.3 billion dollars to repair existing barriers and update security technology. Although this bill did not allow them to implement new types of barriers, the Trump Administration has already been repairing several sections of the border under this bill using money passed for the 2018 budget. This includes the steel slats that he has referred to as the border wall.

This battle has been going on for weeks at the expense of government services and with and thousands of government workers being impacted. Hopefully, the GOP will draft a better plan for the border wall and the two sides can come to an agreement.