So, What’s the Future of the “Big, Beautiful” Border Wall?

How many times have you started a home improvement project and then found your budget for said project was totally unrealistic?

Sometimes it’s just smarter to stop the whole venture, take the loss and cover up the mess with some plywood or paint. Maybe you tell yourself you’ll get back to it someday.

That is where we are with the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Except nothing can cover up the landscape-scarred, unfinished sections of this project.

The promise of a “big, beautiful” wall to curb illegal entry into the U.S. was one of President Trump’s signature issues during the 2016 campaign. He said Mexico would pay for the wall. They didn’t. But Mexico was persuaded to pay to deploy thousands of their security forces, helicopters and boats to patrol their side of the border. Mexico also agreed to pay for deportation flights and a program that keeps immigrants seeking asylum in the US in Mexico while they await their court date in America.

This is What the Old Border Wall Looked Like – wikimedia

That could be considered payment toward curbing a mutual problem. It would be like a kind benefactor who, upon learning of your costly home improvement project, stepped in to pay outsiders to help lessen your burden. But the financial responsibility of completing the project would still up to you.

For right now construction on the wall continues. The last tally from Customs and Border Patrol reported 423 miles of wall have been completed. Less than the current administration promised, but still a considerable feat when you see the gigantic 30-foot-tall steel and concrete barrier that now snakes along the U.S./Mexican border.

There have been massive complaints and cost overruns. Environmentalists and reluctant landowners are furious about disruptions to terrain and wildlife and being forced into “eminent domain” sales of property that, in some cases, had been in families for generations.

What was originally touted as an 8-to-12-billion-dollar project ballooned by extra billions in cost overruns. A recent ProPublica/Texas Tribune review of federal spending data for the wall estimates that if a total of 738 miles of wall were built that would translate to roughly $20 million a mile.  

This is Wall Progress as of December 2020 –

President-elect Biden seems adamant about stopping the project immediately as he reverses Trump’s immigration strategies. “There will not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration,” Biden told reporters a few months ago. But now its clear it won’t be easy to simply pull the plug on the most costly wall the world has ever seen

First, the government cannot just ignore the contracts it awarded to more than a dozen construction companies now doing wall-related work. Those firms will be entitled to compensation for the cost of withdrawing equipment and crews from work zones. How much will that cost taxpayers? That is unknown at this point but it will surely be multiple millions (or more) in contract termination fees.  

Taxpayers Will Pay More to Stop Construction – Flickr photo

Second, the Biden administration now says the incoming president favors installing sensors, lighting, camera and other surveillance technology along the border. Will they be able to modify current contracts for those installations or will new agreements with other companies have to be reached? If it is the latter then taxpayers will wind up paying a.) for no work to be done and b.) for a new, untested idea to curb illegal entries.

Either way the taxpayer gets double-billed once again. And what about the cost of maintaining the miles of wall that have already been built? Will politics dictate that they be left unattended? What a waste if that happens.

This country has a long-standing problem with illegal immigration. It should have been seriously addressed decades ago. While each of the last five administrations did construct border walls or barriers along our southern border they were obviously not enough to encourage migrants to enter through the legal process.  Mr. Biden seems determined to break the pattern of a border barricade by employing all manner of technological monitoring.  

But I have a question. Since those determined to cross the border into the U.S. illegally will likely choose a route around any existing wall, I can’t help but wonder something that seems so obvious. If there is no wall where will Mr. Biden’s lights, sensors and the other gadgets be mounted? On trees, perhaps?                                                                



  1. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:02 pm

    Mary Smith writes:

    The thought entered my old mind as soon as I read it……….your question about installing by Biden sensors along the border — where will they be installed?
    Trees? My immediate answer was that man has no brain to be president of the United States of America. And here he comes!!!

    This is an excellent article, Diane.

  2. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:03 pm

    Bruce Krohn writes:

    Ms. Diamond,
    An interesting column. I live in a border State. I personally know several ranchers that have ranches on the border . The only ones complaining about Eminent Domain are the ones taking money from the Cartels to look the other way. That is just a way to harass the Border Patrol with legal nonsense. As far as environmental destruction, nothing about the wall comes close to the paths of barren dirt and trash left by the caravans. Most of the New Mexico boot heel is a nature preserve. Many endangered bats, reptiles, and plants have been found there. I am a biologist, I know. The caravans are shrinking “Protected Species’ to a moot term. Why bother protecting bare dirt and trash? All the ranchers who actually live down there want is to be able to get their mail from their mail box without having to carry a gun, and the wall.

    Bruce Krohn
    Los Lunas, New Mexico

  3. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:05 pm

    John W. Hawley writes:

    Dear Diane Dimond-

    Re: Border Wall OP-ED piece in ABQ Journal

    Your OP-ED piece on the “dim” future of the ‘big, beautiful’ border wall in today’s ABQ Journal is right on the mark, at least from the perspective of an 88-yr-old, curmudgeonly geologist who has spent much of his professional lifetime (since 1962) working in the New Mexico-Chihuahua border region. Unlike the Great Wall of China, however, completed sections of the Trumpian Wall will never attract tourists; but they will definitely be a source of lots of high-grade scrap metal for our Mexican neighbors! I just hope that you can find the time to at least be able to give the attached items a quick review

    My-Diane and I bought our house in 1991 when New Mexico Tech sent me here to open a research center near Central and Girard that specialized in groundwater-resource and related issues in the ABQ-Rio Rancho Metro area. When I retired from Tech in 1997, I had a small consulting practice in environmental and groundwater geology that lasted 20 years before all strenuous activity was curtailed by head-neck cancer and an arthritic knee-joint condition. However, I still work pro bono on groundwater-resource problems for both the NM Tech-Bureau of Geology Division and the NM Water Resources Research Institute at NMSU.

    Your many, mind-expanding journalistic contributions are truly awesome; and you sure know how to lure the brain-dead out of their lairs.

    Have a happy COVID-free New Year!

    John W. Hawley, Ph.D., Emeritus C.P.G.

  4. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:10 pm

    Stephen Moscatello writes:

    They’ll be zero illegal entries under Biden , anyone will be able to come regardless of who they are

  5. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:11 pm

    Jim Reynolds writes:

    Diane Dimond If the President said the wall worked, then it must have since the President NEVER lied to the American people, or misled them, or creatively prevaricated. Could it be that the deplorable response to the Covid-19 pandemic with ever-soaring infection rates kept people away. Immigrants maybe anxious for a better life but they’re not stupid.

  6. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:12 pm

    Linda Kelly writes:

    The wall needs to be completed!

  7. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:13 pm

    Sharon Rager writes:

    Some reports and interviews I have read indicate that the Mexican people are on the whole feeling quite a bit more encouraged that there is a better life for them in Mexico. As it is the USA sends millions of dollars into their economy from Mexican families HERE. Also, we buy tons and tons of produce grown in that country. Of course a better economy there is better for us HERE as well as there.

  8. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:13 pm

    Carol Christine Howe writes:

    For every mile of Border wall built a tunnel is being Dug. This wall will not work!

  9. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:15 pm

    Jeffrey Grimshaw writes:

    We send Mexico an invoice and move on.

  10. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:15 pm

    Terry Jones writes:

    No matter who is president of that needs to be keep being built there’s going to be a time and a place where it will save many Americans lives

  11. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:16 pm

    Sharon Rager writes:

    Liberals are so besotted with Trump hate that REASON and real conversation about this critical issue and its true impact on America is ignored. Immigration policies NEED review so that what the real cost to US is known.

  12. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:16 pm

    Donald Shaffer writes:

    Walls have never been good ways to control the flow of people. They can be climbed over and tunneled under. Even East Germany, which built the most formidable wall in history was looking for a better approach in the years before the Berlin Wall fell. So let Trump’s border wall crumble as the political boondoggle it was from the start

  13. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:18 pm

    Mike Collins writes:

    Stupid idea. Kill it.

  14. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:18 pm

    Jeffrey Grimshaw writes:

    Dump it into the sea for a nice, artificial coral reef.

  15. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:18 pm

    Michael Lange writes:

    Let’s just cut our losses on the wall.

  16. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:18 pm

    Richard Hydell writes:

    It’s just another political expense. All good while Americans go hungry. Just another day .

    • Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:19 pm

      Rich Bradley replies to Richard Hydell:

      Maybe we shouldn’t be giving billions away to foreign countries for liberal policies “while Americas go hungry”.

  17. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:21 pm

    Douglas Otis Wesselmann writes:

    Diane, Don’t have to tear it down. Half of the new construction is sub-standard. Let nature take its course.

  18. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:22 pm

    Pat Kelley Wittorf writes:

    What other country in the world exists without controlled borders?

  19. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:22 pm

    Cherrill Gay Clifford writes:

    A nation without secure borders is no nation at all. Good fences make for good neighbors. There is no other country, in the world, that has allowed a border to be merely walked over in order to take advantage of rights that only belong to citizens. Mexico has been a terrible neighbor because of our poor border security.

  20. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:23 pm

    Roy Palmer writes:

    I say build on.

  21. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:25 pm

    Gil Gross writes:

    Di brings up a lot of interesting points as usual. To answer her last question, the sensors and cameras will go up on more of the poles already being used in many areas. A picture of such a unit in Nogales is attached. The information on the effectiveness of the walls is mixed, because our early information from pre-Trump parts of the wall came mainly from the recession years when migration ebbed because jobs here were hard to find. A point that is important is that except for 2019, when interestingly the numbers seemed about equal, the greatest number of illegal immigrants get here legally and overstay their visas. In 2018, for example, that number was 667,000. Politicians of all stripes ignore this. That is possibly anti-Latino bias, but in terms of people “taking jobs”, they are much more likely to come from that group of overstayed visas, along with legal H1-B visas for people who supposedly have skills Americans do not, which is rarely the case [see Trump, Melania]. This will always be a complex situation that needs a more thoughtful debate than politicians give it. Undocumented aliens actually keep Social Security and Medicare afloat by paying taxes on programs they can never collect on. In that way, they are a boon to the federal budget. On the other hand, they are a drain on state budgets by using services they often can’t pay into such as schools. Without immigrants our economy would suffer because citizens are not having enough children to keep Social Security and Medicare alive. On the other hand, its important we know who is in the country and why. What we have now needs thoughtful reform no matter where people are coming from, especially on our longest, least protected border with Canada which is where several attempts at terrorist incursions have happened. Of course, thoughtful and American politicians are not words that ever cohabit.

    photo link:

  22. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:27 pm

    Mary Louise writes:

    Yes it’s a money pit! Not a money maker

  23. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:31 pm

    Jeffrey Young writes:

    Remote sensors are very practical and already in use to pinpoint crossers. Then airborne or other responses can take place. I did a VOA-TV series in 2018 on Somalis leaving Minneapolis for asylum in Canada. I spent a couple of days walking the border shooting and interviewing before spending time in Emerson, Manitoba and Winnipeg, where I finished. On the frontier, CBP knew where I was both by my prior notice and the electronic sensors on the borderline. I greeted them out loud in open space where the train tracks cross the border. They told me later what I said. UAVs already fly the border. I’ve seen the HD footage. I can cut through this fence in fifteen minutes with a diamond disc saw or a torch. It’s visible, so people have something to look at. That’s why it’s there.

    • Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:31 pm

      Mary Louise replies to Jeffrey Young:

      Yup it’s the new technology not an old wall it’s like trying to keep out a bug right? We know now we can track them electronically!! Like Covid

  24. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:32 pm

    Claudia LaPlaca George writes:

    Just keep the gang bangers out!!! As well as human traffickers. It’s bad. I have nothing against good people who want better for family.
    Let’s look out for our vets that are homeless. Our people need help desperately, and have paid into the system. That’s why Americans get angry. Treat everyone the same.

  25. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:32 pm

    Jeff Ajayson writes:

    Truth. Finish it. It works

  26. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:33 pm

    Steve Robel writes:

    Diane you are definitely right and make sense of the whole thing. Biden along with the far left can care less about the safety of the American people especially our children. They are focused on Raising taxes, giving to the illegals, and continue moving forward toward socialism. Which by the way has not worked at all for the countries that went down that road. I wish all of us the best especially during these critical times.

  27. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:36 pm

    David Martin writes:

    Leave it up as a monument to Trumps buffoonery. Then work on meaningful immigration reform.

  28. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:36 pm

    Lorrie Sarafin writes:

    No matter where you stand on the wall – coyotes STILL bring people across the border and leave them to die in the desert. There are miles of desert just across the border – except in the border towns. It’s a very sad situation.

  29. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:37 pm

    John Troxtel writes:

    Stupid idea from the start

  30. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:37 pm

    Timothy Maurer writes:

    There have been so many numbers showing the number of illegal crossings over the border has continued to go down and down over the years, and was at it lowest point in decades when Obama was President. This extreme was never needed to begin with .

  31. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:38 pm

    Lee Gordon writes:

    Let’s suppose that the wall is actually effective. That’s got Mexico covered. How does it prevent illegal immigration from the other 193 countries?

  32. Diane Dimond on January 6, 2021 at 5:38 pm

    Peter Bishop writes:

    It was only ever going to be a rallying-call and symbol for his base, never an effective or practical measure to combat illegal immigration. In many ways, it’s the antithesis of the Statue of Liberty with its welcome message… and ultimately, just as meaningless. Save the money… sell it for scrap – the wall, not the statue

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