Trump’s proposed immigration reform: a closer look – part II

December 12, 2016

Last week, we published an article concerning Trump’s pledge to completely overhaul our immigration policy.  His plans, which rest on what he calls “three basic principles[1] pose a great threat to this nation’s constitutional values.  Last week’s article took a deeper look into the feasibility of some of his proposed reforms:  deporting millions of immigrants,  detaining individuals apprehended at the border and placing a blanket ban on Muslims by requiring those of the Islamic faith to register in a national registry. But if last week’s article showed you how the proposed reforms are not only bad – they are in fact, and more specifically a clear disregard for human life, international law principles and constitutional values that would have the forefathers turning over in their graves – this week’s article will not shock you as much, but will still turn your stomachs. That is why I thought it useful to devote this article to his most infamous idea of building a wall.

U.S.-Mexico Border Fence

Trump only needs to mention the border wall fence to stir up frenzied applause among his supporters, and he made this issue the centerpiece of his presidential campaign. But, much like his mass deportation scheme, the border wall is ridiculous from a practical standpoint. In an interview with MSNBC, Trump estimated that his wall would cost about $8 billion to cover only selected segments of the southwest border. Moreover, he would make Mexico pay for this wall. Trump suggested that the money would come from reducing the $50 billion trade deficit with Mexico — which PolitiFact documented[2] as simply nonsensical. Mexico’s former president, Mexico Felipe Calderon, called[3] this idea “stupid” and asserted that Mexico is “not going to pay a single cent” and that the wall “[is] going to be completely useless."

Moreover, as the Washington Post documented[4], Independent experts assert that this number is a vast underestimation. One construction expert predicted that Trump’s wall would cost at least $25 billion and require at least 40,000 workers a year for at least four years. But putting aside the number for a moment, the border wall idea raises some serious concerns about civil rights abuses in border communities. A border wall would exacerbate the current wasteful militarization of our southwest border that daily confronts border residents, not to mention an increase in heavily armed Border Patrol agents and recourse to weapons of war[5].

And since Trump’s border wall proposal is fundamentally based on racial and ethnic bias against Mexicans, this pledge would also encourage unlawful racial profiling and excessive force.  After all, he has stated[6] that the border wall is necessary because Mexicans are “bringing drugs, and bringing crime,” and that, “they’re rapists.”

In sum, like so many of Trump’s attacks on civil liberties, his wall would be divisive, damage America’s image, and foment discrimination and abuses against people of color.



[1] Trump. (n.d.). Immigration Reform that Will Make America Great Again[Press release]. Retrieved November 18, 2016, from{cke_protected}%3C%2Fi%3E

[2] Sherman, A. (2016, January 26). Trump wrongly says Mexico will pay for wall because of trade. Retrieved November 17, 2016, from

[3] Latimer, B. (2016, February 08). Former Mexican President: We're Not Paying for a 'Stupid' Wall. Retrieved November 17, 2016, from

[4] Latimer, B. (2016, February 8). Trump’s dubious claim that his border wall would cost $8 billion. Retrieved November 17, 2016, from

[5] Terdiman, D. (2012, July 05). How the Border Patrol uses tech to combat smugglers. Retrieved January 17, 2017, from

[6] Full text: Donald Trump announces a presidential bid. (2016, June 15). Retrieved November 17, 2016, from

About Author(s)

marisapr's picture
Marisa is a third-year law student at the University of Pittsburgh. She is pursuing certificates in Health Law and in Latin American Studies. She is interested in gender and race issues and how they affect immigration and immigrant communities. She also does research in public health issues. She has been contributing with articles for Panoramas since 2015.