Americans Need to Tear Down THIS Wall

WANDERINGS, with Walter Brasch

The “star” of the Olympics may not be multiple medalists but the Great Wall of China. Every TV network covering the Olympics took the world to see the Wall. It seemed as if almost every newspaper and magazine reporter also visited the Great Wall.

But, the Great Wall, which was built and rebuilt many times over its 22 century history, eventually was a failure. Although formidable, and one of the world’s greatest engineering feats, the wall by the 16th century could no longer protect China from neighboring armies.

The Maginot Line, which France thought could protect it from Germany and Italy in the decade leading up to World War II, was largely a failure.

The Berlin Wall, at first barbed wire and then concrete, was built not to keep others out but East Germans in. But, there were more than 5,000 escapes during its 28 year history before the wall finally came down in 1989.

As we now know, poorly-constructed levees in New Orleans didn’t keep the flood waters of Katrina from destroying the city.

And now the U.S. is building its own wall. The Bush Administration is putting up about 700 miles of fencing and other barriers along the U.S./Mexico border by the end of the year. The cost just to build that barrier is about $2–$3 million per mile. But, in certain places, the cost far exceeds that. This week, the government began excavating an area near San Diego. When the three and one-half mile fence is finished, the cost will be about $57 million. That’s about $16 million a mile.

Most illegal immigrants pose no problems. They don’t receive American benefits, contrary to a lot of Internet gossip. Most try to avoid getting into trouble, since their purpose of being in America isn’t to get noticed by the police. And, for those who think putting up a wall will keep terrorists out of the country, reflect upon this: The 9/11 hijackers had American-issued visas to be in the U.S.

Like the great Wall, the Maginot Line, the Berlin Wall, and the levees, this wall will also fail, as persons desperate to enter the U.S. will find many other ways to cross the border. But, Americans will have spent more than $2 billion for that lesson.

[Walter Brasch is professor of journalism at Bloomsburg University, a syndicated columnist, and author of 17 books. His latest book is Sinking the Ship of State: The Presidency of George W. Bush, available through and other stores. You may contact him at, or through his website,]

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About Walter Brasch

Columnist, author, journalism professor. Latest book is BEFORE THE FIRST SNOW: STORIES FROM THE REVOLUTION, a look at the couterculture from 1964, as seen through the eyes of a “flower child” who is now middle-aged–and of the reporter who covered her story. The book is available through . . . Check out website, for further info. Or, just write me:

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3 Responses to Americans Need to Tear Down THIS Wall

  1. Darrell Prows says:

    An interesting comment on the Bush presidency is that when he took office the presence of the “illegals” was actually an important contributing factor to our economic strength. Without them our workforce was simply not large enough. Fast forward eight years, however, and his mismanagement has created a situation where one of our strongest economic stimulation measures would be to drive folks back across the border, doing away with the surplus of workers that is now acting as a strong drag on our economy. Simply having these folks disappear from the scene at this point in time would create full employment, and, probably rising wages. Of course it would exacerbate conditions south of our border, creating future problems for which we will definitely pay a high future price, but we’re not exactly known as being a real farsighted country.

  2. Believe me Brother, they are doing work that no average American will do…period. Just a couple months ago a landscape firm that was willing to pay up to $15 an hour couldn’t find Americans that could or would work that hard. Unemployment was already a problem in Orange County. So he was left validating as much as possible his workers documentation and hired the people who were willing to work so hard it would put me and most Americans in the ditch.

    I grew up in the Mexican ghetto (barrio) and I can tell they are the hardest working group of people in the world at very physical or long hours jobs.

    One of my friends, Efrin, works 70 hours a week at two fast food restuarants as a cook to support his family. And his wife works at a dry cleaners as well. That’s about 120 hours a month to just get by. His only luxury is helping support a disabled father in Mexico.

    Don’t bet on anyone leaving. Legal or not. If the Hispanic community, whatever country, documented or undocumented went on strike for a week, this country would fall about at the most basic and lowest levels.

  3. excuse me that’s about 320 hours a month to get by….