Watchdog Group Criticizes Trump’s Border Wall As Inefficient And Costly Political “Stunt”

By: Alec Donaldson | Last updated: Sep 24, 2023

A report from a U.S. government watchdog agency alleges that Trump employed a political “stunt” to bolster “extreme MAGA rhetoric” while squandering “billions of American taxpayers’ dollars.”

Border Barrier Panels

According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, “The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Department of Defense (DOD) installed about 458 miles of border barrier panels across the southwest border from January 2017 through January 2021.” The report further states, “Most (81%) of the miles of panels replaced existing barriers.”

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The Barriers Had Many Impacts

The report notes, “The agencies installed over 62% of barrier miles on federal lands, including on those managed by the Department of the Interior,” and highlights that “Interior and CBP officials, as well as federally recognized tribes and stakeholders, noted that the barriers led to various impacts, including to cultural resources, water sources, and endangered species, and from erosion.”

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The Negative Impacts Of The Wall

The report asserts that the border wall “caused severe erosion; disrupted natural water flows; damaged native plants while spreading invasive species; disturbed wildlife habitats and migration patterns,” among other negative consequences.

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"A Symbolic Message Of Hate"

Raúl Grijalva, Ranking Member of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, criticized Trump, stating, “From the start, President Trump’s border wall was nothing more than a symbolic message of hate, aimed at vilifying migrants and bolstering extreme MAGA rhetoric.”

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Grijalva further commented, “This racist political stunt has been an ineffective waste of billions of American taxpayers’ dollars—and now we know it has caused immeasurable, irreparable harm to our environment and cultural heritage as well.”

The Damage Done

Grijalva emphasized the importance of environmental restoration and mitigation led by science and input from stakeholders, including tribes and border communities, to address the damage caused by the wall.

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Criticizing Trump

A San Diego doctor criticized Trump’s efforts, stating, “We had come to save our lives, not to risk them in such an awful way.”

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Increases In Deaths

Doctors alleged that the wall had led to a significant increase in deaths, from zero to 16, according to a journal article in JAMA Surgery.

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January 2021 Pause

Additionally, the report highlights that “pausing construction and canceling contracts exacerbated some of the negative impacts because contractors left project sites in an incomplete or unrestored state as of the January 2021 pause, and the sites remained that way, at times, for more than a year.”

Source: Mario Tama/Getty Images

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83,000 Children Entered The U.S.

This report coincided with a warning from the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) about a new record number of children attempting to escape poverty, crime, violence, and other hardships, with over 83,000 children entering the U.S. in the first eight months of the year, as reported by Common Dreams.

Source: Ted Soqui/Corbis via Getty Images

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