Essay on Border Walls

Published: 2021/12/07
Number of words: 1536


We dwell in the world of walls and borders. A wall is a well-built structure that defines a particular location, provides security and shelter and carries a specified load (United States & United States, 2008). Therefore, a border wall is a separating wall that is fixed along an international border. The construction of these walls are mainly for border control purposes, for instances, curbing smuggling, trafficking of human beings, and unlawful immigration. However, in cases of disputes or unclear border, the erection of a border can serve as a useful unconventional consolidation of a territorial claim that can substitute an official demarcation (United States & United States, 2008). There are several examples of border walls that have already been constructed such as the Great Wall of China (that separates China and nomadic empires), and Berlin Wall (separating West and East Berlin).

Besides an extensive and expensive border wall constructed on the long stretches of Mexico-U.S border, several other new border walls have increasingly been constructed on political boundaries all over the world. Both the democracies and totalitarians government build these barriers. Customarily, the border walls are vindicated in the semantic of safety (security): the country has to be safeguarded from rebels, drug cartels, suicide bombers, or terrorist prowling on the other side of the border. In spite of the external emphasis of these justifications, in most cases, these border walls are the cause of the internal politics of the countries that build them. There are several reasons for putting up a border wall: safeguarding the cultural practices within the state from any conceivable influence by other moral values that immigrants possess, creating sovereignty over lands that appears difficult to be governed and guarding the wealth of the country and her citizens (United States & United States, 2008).

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Reasons for Constructing Border Wall

Establishing Sovereignty over Ungoverned Lands

The aspiration to create explicit self-governing authority over the country’s land is the primary factor that triggers the building of a border wall (United States, 2017). However, in most instances, we visualize that the territorial boundary of the states drawn lines where the authority of one country ends, and another begins, in which various borders call into question this simplicity. The idea of borders or coastlines or rivers being lines isn expediency of cartography which was created on the ground several years after a map was drawn. Therefore, even the idea of countries having visibly demarcated territories which are manifested by linear borders is a new advancement (United States, 2017). The border walls visually demonstrate where one country’s area ends and where the other country’s land begins.

Protecting the Country’s Wealth and Her Citizens

The existence of a more miserable state on the other side can instigate the erection of a border wall (Regan, n.d.). In the past, political borders functioned mainly as either indicator of distinct government systems where one set of laws and taxes or where one culture ceases to exist as another starts or military defensive lines where one army stopped the effort of another. Recently, the practice of total sovereignty over a confined region created considerable wealth disparities internationally, which resulted in a mass movement of people either in search for better economic opportunities in other territories or to evade deteriorating situations in their bounded regions. These movements, in consort with the likelihood of aggressive and hostile individuals or stuff getting into the country, caused more emphasis on border walls as a setting to inhibit the illegal movement of individuals.

Moreover, not only do the new border walls longer than the previous, but several are constructed along peaceful borders. The outstanding characteristic that several wall borders have in common is that they mark a sharp discontinuity regarding wealth. For instance, the average Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the states that have constructed border walls since the fall of the Berlin Wall is approximately $ 14, 070 while the GDP for the countries on the side of these borders is an estimate of $ 2,802.

Safeguarding the cultural Practices within the Country

The fear that the movement of different people with distinct value systems will permanently change the lifestyle (customs and traditions) in the country may trigger the construction of walls on the political borders. For example, in the United States, the worries about the risk that immigrants’ morals pose have existed since the birth of the country (United States, 2017). The border wall is a symbol of the hardened and permanent borderline that marks a perfect peculiarity between the regions where a specific group of people lives.

Impacts of Border Walls

The Environmental Impacts of Border Walls

The construction of border wall poses both the direct and indirect effects on the environment. The immediate implications of building and maintaining these walls will be very vital and detrimental to the past, present and future efforts of environmental conservation. The wall will cause movement of wildlife and fragmentation of their habitats since many wildlife species are found in the locations where the barrier are constructed (Martin, 2010). The activities associated with construction of the wall such as excavation degrade and fragment land, which is mainly serving as the habitat of the wildlife. Destruction of these habitats imposes further stress on the wildlife in the areas where the wall has passed. Similarly, activities such as clearance of vegetation also destroy their dwelling place and force them to move to different places. The immediate effects of habitat fragmentations are the movement of wildlife species which is the primary factor determining their abundance, distribution, gene flow or extinction. Moreover, border walls are typically fixed with high-intensity artificial night lighting which has detrimental impacts on the migratory birds (Martin, 2010). Light towers cause ‘tower kills’ whenever these birds disastrously hit structures due to confusion caused by the lights.

The construction of border walls can as well indirectly affects wildlife by shifting patterns of immigration. The construction of these borders and related infrastructure development such as road construction and lighting systems have had indirect impacts on another side of the wall by shifting unlawful immigration undertakings. The erection of these walls will result in a similar pattern of sidetracking illegal immigration via more remote paths, possibly impacting the wildlife and ecosystem in those particular locations (Martin, 2010). Besides, constructing these walls will interfere with land management practices hence altering the usual habitat and wetland management on refuge areas.

Economic Impacts

The construction of the border wall is expensive. For example, the cost of erecting the border wall in the United States, known as Trump’s wall, is estimated to cost US$ 4 million to US$ 16 million per mile (United States, 2017). It typically unfolds in tandem with extensive investments in surveillance and other operations that require huge capital outlay. Moreover, the wall increases the living standard of people since the transportation cost may increase due to the establishment of roads to be used while crossing the border (Speed, 2008).

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Social Impacts

The border walls are erected primarily to secure a nation from adverse occurrences such as terrorism; hence citizens feel safe (Speed, 2008). However, when these borders are built, people try to cross at more isolated and dangerous areas. This act causes injury to people and even death. Moreover, these walls create violations of human life. Besides, imposing a monetary cost of transforming the border wall, associated with additional electronic surveillance devices and massive deployment of patrol personnel, comes with social cost such as taxes (United States, 2017). The border wall can as well cause forced separation of families and friends.


The erection of a border wall concurrently legitimate and strengthens the internal exclusionary practices of the sovereign country. It makes valid exclusion through the provision of a material demonstration of the nonfigurative idea of sovereignty, which result in the claim of regional difference into reality. Besides, it builds up the practices of exclusion, since after the borderline is set, the perception of the difference between the two areas grows big.


Martin, L. (2010). Constructing the Border Wall – The Social and Environmental Impacts of Border: Mexico-U.S. Border Policy. Engineering Earth, 1701-1722. doi:10.1007/978-90-481-9920-4_97

Regan, m. (n.d.). How the Border Wall Became a Canvas:. Border Spaces, 151-174. doi:10.2307/j.ctt1zxsmfs.11

Speed, S. (2008). Human Rights and the Border Wall. Anthropology News49(9), 25-25. doi:10.1111/an.2008.

United States. (2017). The border wall: Strengthening our national security : hearing before the Subcommittee on National Security of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fifteenth Congress, first session, April 27, 2017.

United States, & United States. (2008). Walls and waivers: Expedited construction of the southern border wall and collateral impacts to communities and the environment : joint oversight field hearing before the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, joint with the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Oceans of the Committee on Natural Resources, U.S. House of Representatives, One Hundred Tenth Congress, second session, Monday, April 28, 2008, in Brownsville, Texas. Washington: U.S. G.P.O.

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