One of Donald Trump’s major campaign promises was to build a wall along the border of the United States and Mexico. That wall would be nearly 2,000 miles long. Josh Begley made a short film called “Best of Luck With the Wall” that was posted on “Digg” and shows some of the problems with building a wall that size.
The seven-minute movie compiled 200,000 satellite images taken by Google Maps that depict the terrain. The hapless engineers and builders would have to deal with such natural obstacles as mountains, deserts, rivers and flood zones. About half the wall would criss-cross people’s private property—and the federal government would have to buy that property in order to build.
Ali F Rhuzkan, a structural engineer, described the logistical problems of building a 2,000-mile-long wall in an article for the “National Memo.” He began by contemptuously pointing out that, contrary to his boasts, Trump is not a builder. He’s a developer who pays other people to build things for him. While Rhuzkan conceded that building skyscrapers with 95 stories requires some impressive engineering, he pointed out that a 2,000-mile-long wall has been built only once before. The main part of the Great Wall of China is around 2,150 miles long and has nearly 2,200 miles of spurs and branches.
Rhuzkan then stated that a successful “border wall must be effective, cheap and easily maintained.” It would need to be about 20 feet high to keep people from climbing over it and extend at least five feet underground to prevent people from digging or tunneling underneath it.
A wall of such dimensions would need 12 million cubic yards of concrete – which is enough to make three Hoover Dams. It would also need about 5 billion pounds of rebar or reinforcing steel. Rhuzkan comments, “We could melt down 4 of our Nimitz-class aircraft carriers and would probably be a few cruisers short of having enough steel.” The starting construction costs would be around $25 billion.
The wall would also turn out to be less effective than Trump imagines. According to Pew Research, the number of undocumented immigrants has actually declined. Their population had peaked at 12.2 million in 2007 and declined by less than a million during the Great Recession. Since then, it has stabilized at around 11 million.
Moreover, contrary to the stereotype, not all undocumented immigrants come to the US via the southern border. Almost half take a plane and then simply stay after their visa expires. Thus, not only should Trump consider the logistics of building his wall, he should also consider if it’s really worth it.