After the U.K. government announced their plan to build a concrete wall in Calais, France, Donald Trump declared that he wants to build a 1,000-mile wall along the border with Mexico. Although the differences between Britain’s plan and Trump’s statement are numerous, the media already draws comparisons between them and discusses a potential return to the Berlin Wall era.
About the Walls and the Policies behind Them
Britain’s decision to build the wall followed a long list of migrant-related incidents and is based on concerning facts. At the moment, Europe is facing the biggest migrant crisis since WW II, having received no less than 305,000 migrants in 2016 alone, after more than one million reached the continent in 2015.
Many of them requested asylum in Germany and Scandinavia, but thousands of people also ended up in unsanitary camps like the one in Calais, suggestively named “The Jungle.” From here, hundreds of migrants invade the roads and freight yards surrounding the port in an attempt to sneak onto the trucks and trains crossing English Channel by ferry or rail tunnel.
Some of them suffer severe injuries or suffocate in the containers they use as hiding spots. Even so, according to an article in The Mirror, every six minutes, one migrant gets caught trying to cross the U.K. border illegally.
After several European countries raised razor wire fences to stop the flow of migrants, Robert Goodwill, the British immigration minister announced that his country aims to step up security in the port of Calais with a 13 feet concrete wall worth £2 million.
The wall will replace the existing fencing on a distance of one mile and aims to stop stowaways from targeting lorries. The announcement comes just six months after Britain’s agreement to spend $22.5 million on improving port security.
But Britain’s wall in Calais would be nothing compared to Trump’s colossal construction. The candidate for the US presidency stated that he plans on building a wall no less than 35 feet-high and 1,000 miles-long, estimating costs at $2 billion. While this is just a plan, and there is no telling whether it could ever turn into reality or how it would be financed, opinions for and against it already appeared.
Are the Walls Worth the Investment and Will They Keep Migrants Away?
NBC News covered the pros and cons of the walls. Auberge des Migrants representative François Guennoc, declared the wall a waste of money. He argued that whenever walls are built, people find ways to go around them. The only thing walls do is to increase the dangers, the risks, and the costs for the migrants.
The French senator Nathalie Goulet compared the wall with the one raised in WWII around the Warsaw Ghetto and the Great Wall of China to show that all walls eventually turn into useless ruins and tourist attractions.
She argued that the walls would not help, because they do not address the cause of immigration, and there would be no need for them if the money spent on election campaigns was invested in reducing insecurity and poverty.
But there are also voices that support reinforcement measures. One of them is Douglas Murray, a Henry Jackson Society associate director who argues that “good fences make good neighbors.” He gives the examples of other countries that reinforced their border security measures:
- Denmark and Sweden reintroducing border checks
- Austria and Hungary raising border fences
- Tunisia and Morocco announcing to build border walls against Libya and Algeria.
Right or wrong, helpful or not, the construction of the Calais concrete wall should be finalized by the end of the year, according to a Britain’s Home Office official cited by NBC News. At least until the election campaign is over, Donald Trump’s wall at the Mexican border remains just a promise in the wind.