By Samantha L. Alonso
U.S. presidents have been trying to reinforce the U.S.-Mexico border for more than a century, criminal justice Professor Marshall B. Lloyd said Feb. 7 at the Methodist Student Center’s Hot Potato lecture.
“There’s far more going on than just the president’s executive order and desire to build a wall,” Lloyd said, referring to President Donald J. Trump’s promise to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“There’s lots of wall policy going back over 100 years in terms of defending the border with Mexico.”
President George H.W. Bush proposed putting up a fence on the U.S.-Mexico border, Lloyd said. In 1990, the U.S. constructed a 66-mile fence along the California coast.
In 1996, President Bill Clinton approved an additional 14-mile fence near San Diego.
Ten years later, the Senate approved the “Secure Fence Act of 2006,” which vowed 700 more miles of fence. Among the senators who voted for the Secure Fence Act were Democrats Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Joe Biden, Lloyd said.
The responsibility of making sure the fence was built fell on the shoulders of the secretary of homeland security, Michael Chertoff, Lloyd said.
The secretary of homeland security was able to bypass legislation about environmental concerns.
The construction of a fence along the southern border dates back to the 1990s, and by 2008 there were still gaps in the fence close to the southern tip of Texas.
With the fence put on the border, another issue arose, Lloyd said. The government has to buy and force the sales of private land to build a fence. The whole property would not be purchased, just a portion of the land needed to put up the fence.
Different types of fences such as pedestrian fences and fences that impede vehicles were put up for different sections of land.
Many people in the audience had general questions about the Trump administration, but Lloyd tried to keep the subject pertaining to the history behind the wall.
Trump’s biggest promise in his candidacy was building the wall along the southern border. It was also one of the biggest controversies.
One of the biggest concerns in building the wall is the cost; to build and maintain the wall for 25 years will cost $40 billion, Lloyd said.
Trump said Mexico will pay for the cost of the wall, but former Mexican President Vicente Fox says Mexico will not pay for the costs of the wall; after Mexico’s refusal to pay for the wall, Trump came up with the concept of cutting foreign aid to Mexico to fund the wall, Lloyd said.
“If I was Mexico, I would agree to it and send a letter and send a peso each year,” Lloyd said. “Some object. Some would probably just send a centavo. …we will accept all forms of payments. We do accept dollars.”