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Politics

Walls and Borders: a survey around the world

Anh Nguyen February 25, 2019

While many people feel most content inside their house, man made borders and territories are rarely divided by the definite feature of our confinement: a physical wall. But the idea for a border wall has yet to lose friction on the minds and tongues of politicians across the world. In a more globalizing world where we become closer to each other, why are building walls to separate people still relevant?

The number one reason, regurgitated by U.S. President Donald Trump for the same reasons he has shut down the government for 30 plus days, is national security.

To counter the influx of political asylees coming from Central and South America through the southern border, the Trump Administration has proposed a plan for a steel border wall stretching from California to Texas, covering 4 states and more than 600 miles.

For centuries, kingdoms and dynasties had used walls to establish their boundaries. The Great Wall of China, arguably the best known of its kind at 5,500 miles long, was built  in the 7th century BCE to protect Qin Shi Huang’s fledgling kingdom from outside enemies. It was also known for the human toil that went into more than two millennia of construction, nicknamed the longest cemetery on earth. Its distance is approximately the same with the distance between the U.S. and Italy.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, a border wall like the Great Wall is a great political propaganda that doesn’t do much to keep people out. In the early 13th century, Genghis Khan and his Mongolian army easily breached the barrier of the wall and ruled over China for over a hundred years.

Trump’s wall is due to cost 5.7 billion dollars but many experts consider it’s somewhere in the 30-billion-dollar ballpark. But this is a costly and ineffective solution to the continuing humanitarian crises at the border.

Another famous wall in recent memory is the Berlin Wall that separated West and East Germany. After World War II, Germany was split between Soviet-controlled East Germany and the U.S., the U.K. and France-controlled West Germany. During the Cold War, an estimated 2.5 million people from East Germany defected that led to the construction of the wall with heightened security intended to arrest and punish defectors.

Nonetheless, nearly 5,000 more crossed the wall and undermined the Soviet’s rule. The Berlin Wall is a prominent symbol of the Cold War, and in 1987 U.S. President Ronald Reagan famously called on Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall!” Two years later, as the Soviet Union began to collapse, the wall was opened.

Whether to keep people in or out, these examples show that walls can be  spectacularly lousy at doing their jobs. But it doesn’t stop politicians and people from thinking that it might just work this time. While some in the nation are seriously considering building a wall, I believe we should also throw in other crazy inventive ideas to help better the country, such as erasing student debt, ensuring free health care and providing free housing for low-income households. This would be a better use of the nation’s funds and might just Make America Great Again.