Migration has been an essential part of the human experience well before the creation of national borders. Indeed, humans were migratory before they ever built cities. That said, it wasn’t too long after humans first built cities that they first began to build walls. They were created for defensive purposes, and to keep people considered undesirable, out.
Enforcement along the U.S.-Mexico border became an increasing priority for politicians after the 1965 immigration and naturalization act. Additional agents were sent to monitor border crossings. According to History.com, “The United States began the installation of border fences to restrict the movement of unlawful immigrants and drugs in 1993 when President Bill Clinton mandated the construction of a 14-mile barrier between San Diego and Tijuana. The Secure Fence Act of 2006 authorized the construction of 700 miles of border fencing and vehicle barriers, which was completed in 2011.” Despite construction sections of border walls, undocumented migration rose throughout the 90s; however, it has decreased every year since 2007. Despite the decreasing numbers of undocumented border crossings, promises of a wall along the U.S./Mexico border became a central element of President Trump’s campaign for office.
On February 15, 2019 Trump declared a national emergency to gain funds for the U.S.-Mexico wall. He wishes to get a total of $8 billion from the Treasury Department, Department of Defense, and Homeland Security. In response, protests occurred in many cities and lawsuits were passed.
In announcing his declaration of a national emergency, the President stated, ‘I don’t need to do this,’ but explained that he preferred to build the border wall faster than Congress’s appropriation would allow (ACLU)
Public Citizen, suing for 3 Texas landowners and an environmentalist group, sued worried about what may follow if this national emergency is taken seriously. On Monday February 18, 2019, sixteen states filed a lawsuit questioning the national emergency on constitutional grounds. The states claim that Trump’s requested funding is needed in other areas like military bases and counter-drug efforts. On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also sued questioning the basis of the national emergency.
- Deconstructing the Wall: Teaching About the Symbolism, Politics and Reality of the U.S.-Mexico Border via NY Times Learning, January 6, 2019.
- Standoff: Trump Wants $5 Billion For Wall, Democrats Offer $1.3B For Border Security via NPR, January 3, 2019
- Trump: Government won’t reopen ‘until we have a wall via PBS Newshour, December 25, 2018, https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/trump-government-wont-reopen-until-we-have-a-wall
- While the US debates caravans and wall, thousands of migrants are dumped in border cities via USA Today, December 28, 2018 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2018/12/28/us-mexico-border-migrants-dumped-america-border-cities/2431494002/
- The Border Wall: How a Potent Symbol Is Now Boxing Trump In via New York Times, January 5, 2019
For context on current debates about the border, consider these news sources:
- Everything You Need to Know About the Mexico-United States Border:
- The Border Wall: What has Trump Built So Far:
- US Mexico Border History Photos 2017:
- A look at U.S. policy toward immigration and border security with Mexico over the past 60 years:
- US Unauthorized Immigrant Total Dips to Lowest Level in a Decade:
- Trump’s Declaration of National Emergency Hit with First Lawsuits, Washington Post, February 16, 2019
- 16 States Sue Trump of National Emergency Declaration, via AP News, February 19, 2019
- ‘There was and is no national emergency’: ACLU Sues Trump over Order for Border Wall, USA Today, February 19, 2019
- Migratory Notes 103, Medium, February 21, 2019
The Raging Controversy at the Border Began With This Incident 100 Years Ago
- In Nogales, Arizona, the United States and Mexico agreed to build walls separating their countries via Smithsonian Magazine, July 2018, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/raging-controversy-border-began-100-years-ago-180969343/#CZVxSlEfHszuc5K5.99