Virtual or Real, a Border Wall Would Be Costly and Unproductive

Communications Associate

August 30, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A proposed border wall, whether physical or virtual, would be rife with problems.

Regarding a virtual wall, Philip Bump wrote in the Washington Post today, “It’s worth assessing how feasible such a wall would be. And it’s easy to do that, because the Department of Homeland Security spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to build a virtual wall within the past decade. It didn’t work.”

The National Immigration Forum has addressed previous attempts to implement a virtual border, including in 2015. Customs and Border Protection had planned to implement the 2010 Secure Border Initiative along the entire 2,100-mile southwest border, using technologies to manage prohibited breaches at and between land ports of entry.

The Government Accountability Office later determined that the project had not functioned successfully enough to warrant further funding. After spending hundreds of millions of dollars, the Department of Homeland Security decided to look instead to cost-effective alternatives.

With respect to an actual wall, a recent Cronkite News-Univision News-Dallas Morning News poll in July showed that residents on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border oppose it. About three-quarters of respondents in both countries emphasized the importance of the community and economic interdependency among cities across the border.

“We’ve seen plans for walls before, and they haven’t worked,” said Jacinta Ma, director of policy and advocacy at the National Immigration Forum. “We need sound border security policies that address real threats, encourage commerce and consider the tens of millions of people who live along our borders.”