Word came yesterday that the President intends to keep his promise to build a border wall between the United States and Mexico.

According to estimates from the federal Government Accountability Office, each mile of the most basic  border “wall” between the United States and Mexico would cost approximately $6.5 million; by basic, they mean a single layer fence — not a wall per se  — that my neighbors might build to keep deer out of their gardens.

Add some more fencing, and some access roads to get to “the wall”, and the price for certain stretches of the fence could be as much as $10.5 million. All told, a 2,000 mile border fence between the United States and Mexico would cost close to $15 billion.  That’s billion with a B.

These are just construction costs, by the way. Maintenance, patrols, and enforcement will cost extra. And, if you want “the wall” to look more like the Great Wall of China, or the Berlin Wall, well, that’s going to cost a whole lot more.

I get the concerns about border security, and I get that people have concerns about the illegal entry of people and cargo into the United States.  But a fence isn’t the answer.

All fences do is increase tension, and encourage people to find different ways to climb or fly over, blast through, or tunnel under them.

If you really want to reduce the flow of illegal migrants and cargo, focus on two things: improved cross-border-relations and better incentives for compliance.  You want an example? Look at the United States’ relationship with Canada. We’re not talking about a northern border wall, and for good reason.

One more thing: If you’re like many in this country who feel like they’ve been left behind by government, this border wall isn’t the best way to help you.  You’re not struggling like mad to make it because someone from Mexico took a minimum wage (or less) job from you in California, Arizona, or Texas.

You’re struggling because people who represent you in government don’t know what it feels like to walk a mile in your shoes.  Unless members of Congress put their hardhats and construction aprons on and build it themselves, a border fence isn’t going to help them understand and empathize with you.

Worse, the $15 billion they spend for a border fence is $15 billion their not spending on building a better school for your kids, building a baseball diamond in your county, or helping your town buy a new fire truck.

Border walls are little more than a political ploy to pander to citizens’ worst fears, without taking concrete steps toward actually improving their lives in the places they live.

It’s the 26th of January, 2017. It’s not a normal day.

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