Letter to the Editor: Walls won’t keep people or contraband out, nor will they last

1987 photo of Berlin Wall by Hunter Desportes via Flickr, St. George News

OPINION — For your consideration, examples of failed walls.

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall(s) of China were built as a defense system against enemies from the north such as the Mongols. But the wall(s) did not succeed in keeping out the barbarians. Genghis Kahn invaded and conquered China.

Apart from defense, other purposes of the Great Wall have included border controls, allowing the imposition of duties on goods transported along the Silk Road, regulation or encouragement of trade and the control of immigration and emigration. An archaeological survey found that the entire wall with all of its branches measures out to be 21,196 km (13,171 mi) requiring centuries to build. Today, the Great Wall is generally recognized as one of the most impressive architectural feats in history.

The Great Wall(s) has been rebuilt, maintained and enhanced over various dynasties. Intending to impose centralized rule and prevent the resurgence of feudal lords, King Zheng of Qin ordered the destruction of the sections of the walls that divided his empire among the former states. To position the empire against the Xiongnu people from the north, however, he ordered the building of new walls to connect the remaining fortifications along the empire’s northern frontier.

“Build and move on” was a central guiding principle in constructing the wall, implying that the Chinese were not erecting a permanently fixed border. The Han, the Sui, and the Northern dynasties all repaired, rebuilt, or expanded sections of the Great Wall at great cost to defend themselves against northern invaders.

The Liao, Jin, and Yuan dynasties, who ruled Northern China throughout most of the 10th–13th centuries, constructed defensive walls in the 12th century, but those were located much to the north of the Great Wall as we know it, within China’s province of Inner Mongolia and in Mongolia itself. Wall building exhausted much of the economic muscle of China. Much of the resulting walls are not visible today. Walls don’t keep. They get torn down, and they decay and waste away.

The Berlin Wall

Following WWII the Soviets built a wall to fence out the influence of freedom from within West Berlin and to fence in their citizens who would seek that freedom. The Berlin Wall did stem the tide of defection to the West, but it did not eliminate the migration. People still went over the wall and through the checkpoints even at the peril of their lives. Over 5,000 people succeeded in escaping over the wall, with an estimated death toll ranging from 136 to more than 200.

The prospects of freedom created the force of a tide that was too great for the Berlin Wall to contain. Finally one of our truly great presidents, Ronald Reagan, said, “Mr. Gorbachov, tear down this wall.” And the wall came down! A euphoric people and souvenir hunters chipped away parts of the wall; the governments later used industrial equipment to remove most of what was left. Walls don’t keep people in and they get torn down at some additional expense.

Israelite/Palestinian fence barriers

Physical barriers designed to separate Israelis and Palestinians were ineffective. People went over, around, under and through the fences. The tide was diminished, but those with mal intent simply tunneled under. Between 2007 and 2013, more than 1,532 tunnels were running under the border to mitigate the impact of the blockade on Gaza.

Walls are not sufficient to withstand the tide of people seeking freedom and the prosperity that freedom brings. People seeking the freedom and/or the prosperity that we enjoy in America will go over, under, around the wall, and through the checkpoints even at the peril of their lives.

A wall to isolate Mexico from the United States of America will only slow the tide of migration, particularly of the disadvantaged.

The tide of drugs and crime will be little affected by a wall because these activities will suck enough of our economic strength to entice and enable the perpetrators to overcome physical barriers. Drugs and criminals will go over, under, around, and through the wall, and through the check points even at the peril of their lives.

America was not built on walls. America did not become great by building walls; the United States of America has long stood for acceptance, uplift and welcome to those seeking our blessings of freedom and opportunity. Immigrants have, over time, bolstered our productive capacity and the efficiency of our production.

The poem “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus, written in 1883 for an auction to raise funds for the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, was a tribute to the symbolism of Lady Liberty, calling her name “Mother of Exiles.” These poetic words are there inscribed:

‘Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!’ cries she
With silent lips. ‘Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’

These words would fail in the sight of a barrier across our southern boundary meant to exclude the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Where is the welcome that my European ancestors experienced on their arrival at many United States ports of entry? Truly we are a nation of immigrants and descendants of immigrants. How can America exclude further immigration of the tempest-tost yearning to breath free?

Submitted by FRED L GOWERS, St. George, Utah.

Letters to the Editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, staff or news contributors. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them. They do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News and are given only light edit for technical style and formatting.

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Letters to the Editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, staff or news contributors. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them. They do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News and are given only light edit for technical style and formatting.

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  • iceplant January 18, 2019 at 3:56 pm

    Well said.

  • Craig January 18, 2019 at 5:41 pm

    This sentiment is simply not true —

    “Walls are not sufficient to withstand the tide of people seeking freedom and the prosperity that freedom brings. People seeking the freedom and/or the prosperity that we enjoy in America will go over, under, around the wall, and through the checkpoints even at the peril of their lives.”

    America still welcomes people — legally. There are 7 US facilities in Mexico to process requests. Open borders are absolutely absurd.

    I have no interest having neighbors who broke the law to get here; they’ve already shown me their lack of character.

    No borders or open borders will financially collapse this nation. Please explain your love for illegal aliens to families of those who had a loved one murdered.

    The liberals you blindly support just to hate Trump passed a bill for some $50 billion for Onama to secure the border. The leadership of the liberals all have videos of their adamant support for walls and how wrong it is to have illegal aliens.

    The word illegal should be enough to understand what they are doing is wrong.

    Worse, people like you promoting illegal entry carry responsibility for the evils that they face trying to get here.

    We have lost all common sense.

  • walkergold January 18, 2019 at 6:19 pm

    I guess the logic is that if a measure is not going to be 100% successful in achieving the desired result, the measure should not be taken. Condoms are not 100% successful in stopping the spread of STDs. I guess they should not be used? Security systems are not going to stop all burglaries. I guess they should not be used? Bicycle helmets are not going to prevent all head injuries. I guess we should not use them? Obviously, we could go on and on. Why does a wall have to be 100% successful to make sense? Because Trump wants it?

  • great success January 18, 2019 at 6:23 pm

    How many people do you actually know that are affected negatively by people coming across the United States border illegally?

    But how many people can attest to rising and over-inflated healthcare negatively impacting their quality of life? How many are feeling the strain, overall, of the rising cost of living in the United States? All while wages sputter to keep up? At least for the middle and lower parts of the wage spectrum, which is most of us.

    If the government has to shut down, it would be nice if these politicians could work to solve some of the issues in the US that the majority of the people face.

  • LocalTourist January 18, 2019 at 6:31 pm

    Trumpets, behold, someone to whine about.

    Please, a wall, as he said, wont work… yeah, it’ll stop some, but for Petes sake we are America… we have better technology than bricks. When (or if) if becomes unneeded, we can move it to where it IS needed. You cannot do that with a wall.
    And if you fools keep up with real news instead of Hannity or BrightBark, you’d know the majority of illegal drugs are coming in the country through legal ports of entry, NOT across the frontier.

    It’s 2019, not 1977. The rest of America can see through the TV personality currently in the White House. I suggest Washington county do the same.

    • Just Guessin January 18, 2019 at 7:49 pm

      Where you get all those statistics…. LT…. CNN?

      “And if you fools keep up with real news instead of Hannity or BrightBark, you’d know the majority of illegal drugs are coming in the country through legal ports of entry, NOT across the frontier.”

      So all the government agency’s we have now can’t stop all the illegal stuff now by your logic, we just have to add more government to solve it? God help us PLEASE. These sheople procreate.

  • Kilroywashere January 18, 2019 at 6:39 pm

    One word: baloney. Berlin Wall was used to keep people INSIDE East Germany. Great Wall of China is relative to ancient history. The wall between Israel and Palestine has been effective, regardless of covert tunnels. The Israelis have updated new defensive measures in regards to subterranean infiltration that was used in the last major outbreak years back. Author is clearly biased and comparing apples to carrots. Lastly America is not about walls. Ok then let’s add this author also should admit that America is no longer about the rule of law. Immigrants that go through a legal process and have to be vetted, wait etc and pass an examination, should ignore our laws, go to Mexico and enter illegally. They will be rewarded for breaking the law. Great incentive system. How about, build a wall, reform the immigration process, and support legal immigration. As I said in my first sentence, baloney. This is an example of classic bleeding heart liberalism. No solution, just emo regurgitation we have now heard a zillion times.

  • FowRizzle January 18, 2019 at 6:46 pm

    The wall is to keep the sheeple in. Not to keep anyone out.

    • Just Guessin January 18, 2019 at 7:55 pm

      Why would I want to get OUT? Explain….

  • Walter1 January 18, 2019 at 6:57 pm

    As illegal immigrants from south of our border and other areas continue their rapid and forceful re-colonization of the United States for their own purpose, I wonder how people will feel in not to many years from now as they look back at this period of time. Those who could have spoke up but have muted their voices because they fear crossing the political correctness line will be hard pressed to complain about higher taxes and increasing crime. What about those who will certainly be displaced by illegal immigrants from their jobs and neighborhoods? Will they see the change as progress or regret their silence and inaction? We don’t have to just sit and take this unlawful change. It is not wrong or immoral to enforce our laws and protect our borders. As an American it’s your privilege and your duty. Tolerance is not complacency. Complacency has become a recipe for disaster. Wake up folks!

    • Kilroywashere January 18, 2019 at 7:57 pm

      Dear Walter1, let’s hope people wake up. But if they don’t, then it will be their fault for not doing anything and listening to idealistic fools like the author of this letter to the editor that fail to recognize the future of living on a planet with a population of 10 billion people is just 3 decades away. Robots and AI will start to supplant manual labor in less then 5 years from now in a radical way. Americans are not thinking about the future.

      • Comment January 18, 2019 at 8:24 pm

        Some of you guys are really off on one with this AI stuff lately. Robots and automatization: yes, AI: no, not really at all. Just is funny you’re the 3rd one to start talking about AI since yesterday. Did breitbart release an article on it or what?

  • jpff January 18, 2019 at 7:00 pm

    In answer to great success, I have seen the negative effects personally when our local schools have become too crowded to be able to give a top education to everyone. We now have many illegals in our system, but we have not received enough money into the taxes to accommodate them; thus, the classrooms are more crowded than ever.

    • great success January 18, 2019 at 8:31 pm

      You’ve definitely touched on another good issue, jpff. We may differ on opinions of why our classrooms are crowded. But education I believe is another area that we could work on that is more pressing. Especially in Utah. And there’s complex issues at play. Utah ranks dead last in all 50 states on amount spent per student at $6953 per the Census. National average is $11,762. What that means? Bigger class sizes in Utah. Enormous case loads for special education teachers, guidance counselors, school nurses etc. Inability to provide the attention and detail our students deserve.

      Of course our population in Utah is unique with high birth rates in state. That means more kids in the schools with less tax dollars per household to work with in the education system. I believe this is primarily the issue with the crowded classrooms we see. At least locally.

    • bikeandfish January 18, 2019 at 9:01 pm

      Its believed that roughly half of illegal immigrants pay income taxes (and on a higher % of their income than legal citizens) and every one of them living in a home (rent or buy) contributes to property tax. That still leaves a deficit on educating their children but not to the level many claim.

  • Red2Blue310 January 18, 2019 at 8:58 pm

    A wall is certainly NOT WORTH shutting down the government for. Keep the government working and let that “bestest” deal mamer make the deals he says hes so great at. BTW, wheres the pesos?

  • bikeandfish January 18, 2019 at 9:22 pm

    I have to admit in public that I have changed my stance from a simple “walls don’t work” to recognizing they do have a noticeable influence on prevention and enforcement. As others have highlighted, even the examples in this letter undermine the very claim that “walls won’t keep people out”. Friends in Israel can attest to their impacts, positive and negative.

    I still believe 1) the president shouldn’t be empowered to make these decisions unilaterally, 2) we need a real bill with details to debate and 3) Trump’s campaign rhetoric undermines the legitimacy of his current demands. But I’m not sure there is really a leg to stand on for the simplistic claim that “walls don’t work.” The question to me, if we get to Congress creating an immigration bill, is do they work well enough to justify the tangible and intangible costs?

    But I was wrong to have used such simple language earlier in the debate. And I think the opposition is doing itself a disservice in continuing to make such simple claims.

    • Comment January 18, 2019 at 10:48 pm

      LOL! were you in denial about it? and I would hardly call this “in public”. ahahahaha

      • bikeandfish January 19, 2019 at 12:16 am

        Gasp! Someone admits they made a mistake and changed their mind on the internet.

        Do you not really understand the public vs private distinction? Would be hypocritical of me not to admit the change in approach openly given my interactions here.

        • Comment January 19, 2019 at 12:51 pm

          b+f, you say a lot of things that are hypocritical. We are used to it, lol. I guess if you were sitting in the tub having a nice bubble bath and you said outloud “I was wrong about the wall!” then that would be a bit more “private” than the setting of the stgnews comment section. If you start posting under your actual name It’ll then be fair to qualify your rants as “in public”. LOL

          • bikeandfish January 19, 2019 at 2:43 pm

            Good to know your plan is just to continue making unsubstantiated claims. If your goal is to troll me you are failing as admitting my errors is about my own sense of integrity, not to satisfy your fallacious expectations.

          • Comment January 19, 2019 at 7:19 pm

            b&f, I’d like your opinion on the ethanol fuel industry and ethanol fuel in general. Like I posted in the other article. I’d like to hear it.

    • Just Guessin January 19, 2019 at 6:17 pm

      Bike glad to see you are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel about the WALL, cause it is coming.
      The President just set up the House Speaker again today 01.19.2019 in a speech to the Nation and The Speakers fell for it in her response (written before the Presidents Offer) 30 minutes latter… NON-STARTER.. People aren’t that dumb.

      I do take issue with this statement from above.
      “I still believe 1) the president shouldn’t be empowered to make these decisions unilaterally”

      Quit frankly bike that is the most important Job of the President. To Secure the Nation, and in times like these everyone can see the Founders of the Constitution had it right.

      • bikeandfish January 19, 2019 at 11:49 pm

        Can you show me again where the founders stated in the Constitution that the POTUS can act unilaterally on something like a wall for immigration? I can’t find it.

  • dodgers January 19, 2019 at 8:29 am

    I put the greatest value on the input of those who protect our borders, the U.S. Border Patrol. According to the U.S. Border Patrol, walls absolutely do work, and in areas where walls and barriers have been installed, the volume of illegal entry has been greatly reduced.
    The Border Patrol cites the walls in San Diego as just one example.
    When looking at the $5.7B being requested, it’s not just a request of our president. The request is from our U.S. Border Patrol, and it includes much more than just a wall, i.e. surveillance equipment, additional technology, more agents and equipment, as well as immigration judges. Walls and barriers are intended to re-direct any attempts of illegal entry, reduce the landscape that must be more actively guarded by our U.S. Border Patrol, ultimately reducing illegal immigration, human trafficking and the influx of illegal drugs, e.g. Fentanyl. Just Illegal immigration alone is costing our country well over $100B/year. The $5.7 requested by our president and U.S. Border Patrol is a drop in the bucket and will ultimately save $$.
    The ONLY reason the Dems are fighting the request for funding is because it is coming from president Trump. Their resistance and unwillingness to negotiate, to find some middle ground to stop the shutdown, is 100% political.

  • utahdiablo January 19, 2019 at 9:55 am

    Author Fred, Berlin Wall built in 1961 and torn down in 1991, so in 30 years 5,000 people crossed it…here at the southern Border, more than 2,000 are arrested each and every day. That number does not include the Illegals who did not get caught…..Wall do work to slow the flow of this endless Invasion so that the Border patrol can arrest most in the future, and how do these aliens affect our lives here in America?…the burden our schools, Hospitals, roadways, shelters, and on and on….Build the Wall NOW

  • Carpe Diem January 19, 2019 at 10:52 am

    OF course the wall wont completely stop the problem… It’s psychological though. OTOH we have the Democrats practically begging them to come on over, they’re not helping!

    OH WAIT CA Gov Newsom has declared CA a Sanctuary State, with headlines like “Newsom pushes sweeping new California health-care plan to help illegal immigrants” so now enticing illegal aliens by offering free health care and protection from ICE.


    • bikeandfish January 19, 2019 at 1:14 pm

      The problem with focusing on headlines is you miss critical details. Illegal immigrant youth are already covered under existing state programs; Newsom’s plan just expands that from age 19 to 26.

      And addressing the current reality of California’s population isn’t somehow “begging” more immigrants to enter the US illegally. That’s no better than the left claiming walls are inherently immoral. If anything, getting illegal immigrants on healthcare rolls is believed to decrease the financial burden in the long run as preventative care is much cheaper than unpaid emergency care liabilities.

  • Canaanite January 19, 2019 at 5:34 pm

    Walls kept Constantinople Christian for 500 years.

  • Jacqwayne January 19, 2019 at 8:15 pm

    Americans have shed their blood in many wars and conflicts to obtain the freedoms and opportunities found here in the U.S. I believe there are about 130,000 American soldiers buried in Europe and other parts of the world who died fighting for the freedoms of the citizens of those countries. I think it’s time for all those people in other parts of the world, who don’t like things the way they are, to stand and fight.
    If American continues to open our arms and accept all those who aren’t willing to fight, and die if necessary, then the conditions in those other countries will never change. I think I read where nearly 10 million Syrians fled their country because dying for their country wasn’t something they wanted to do. A 10 million man army would pose a credible threat. This country, now that we have gotten rid of Obama, is more than willing to aide those who will stand and fight for their own freedom.

  • commonsense January 19, 2019 at 8:38 pm

    The Great Wall still stands and the Mongols do not control China which stands as a sovereign entity. Just saying.

    • Comment January 20, 2019 at 12:42 pm

      LOL. I thought the chinese were mongols

  • Redbud January 19, 2019 at 11:26 pm

    It is my hope that the government stays shut down indefinitely until the democrats stop holding us hostage. Walls work, and shutdown or no shutdown, Trump will get the money for the wall. I say unto you, beware, lest ye be swept away by the ever so powerful currents that exist deep within the swamp, that you may not perish!

    • bikeandfish January 20, 2019 at 12:39 pm

      Does that include a wall around San Antonio?

      I’ve been to a lot of swamps and I can’t say I’ve ever seen one with much of a current. Especially one that would cause anyone to perish.

      • Redbud January 21, 2019 at 4:00 am

        That’s actually what makes them so great. You’ve got these people entering the swamp, unaware of what’s lurking right below them. They begin their prideful mumblings, and spew their anti-american hatred to everyone else stuck in the swamp. A great day shall come to pass, when as a thief quick in the night, shall the plug be pulled, and then they shall perish as the current drags them down into the deep abyss, from which there is no return.

        • bikeandfish January 21, 2019 at 10:33 am

          Wait, now there’s an abyss too?

          • Redbud January 21, 2019 at 2:02 pm


          • bikeandfish January 21, 2019 at 2:26 pm

            Ships aimlessly at sea, a swamp that gets deeper as you drain it, an abyss. You’ve got the makings of some B-movie sci-fi there buddy. You could sell it at the next Trump reign rally.
            Might help you pay for all of those MAGA hats and Donald Trump fan art that’s paying for a wealthy man’s endless campaign.

          • Redbud January 21, 2019 at 5:45 pm

            You’re just jealous of a man who has superior leadership skills, and gets things accomplished. I’ll support anyone who supports our freedom. Trump is a key supporter of all our freedoms that we enjoy. He will continue to drain the swamp when he is gloriously reelected in 2020!

          • bikeandfish January 21, 2019 at 7:05 pm

            Ah, back to the reactive claim I’m just jealous. Sorry Charlie, but you couldn’t be more wrong.

            I find your oversimplistic claim that ” Trump is a key supporter of all our freedoms that we enjoy” ironic, especially as someone who values freedom and has listened to republicans rail for years about gun rights. A couple examples:

            Trump rewrote executive rulings, completely bypassing our legislature, to not only ban bump stocks but require existing ones to be forfeited or destroyed. Obama didn’t even dare do that:


            Or how about due process? That’s about as sacred an American right/freedom/liberty as it gets. Remember this Trump jewel:

            “I like taking guns away early,” Trump said. “Take the guns first, go through due process second.”

            Or how about the freedom and liberties that were stripped from a decorated Marine, and native born citizen, as he was held for deportation for 72 hours. This under freedom loving Trump’s paper please ICE:


            And I’ll just let the irony of stating the POTUS with the longest ever shutdown in American history and who is constantly failing to make deals with the House Majority has “superior leadership skills, and gets things accomplished” speak for itself. Thanks for that free laugh.

          • Redbud January 21, 2019 at 10:49 pm

            Everything you just quoted was cherry-picked. Obama wasn’t perfect either, but at least Trump is doing a far better job protecting our freedom, undoing all the damage Obama did, and being a strong powerful leader. You are jealous, and to claim you’re not is fake news.

          • bikeandfish January 21, 2019 at 11:39 pm

            I love the notion that you are aware of my emotions and intent and I, the person living in my body, stating my actual experience is “fake”. That alone exposes how irrational and dishonest you are. You pay attention to my comments so you must know I value everything Trump lacks: honor, honesty, selflessness, etc. I don’t value, nor am I jealous, of a conman reality television star’s self-promoted claims.

            It also cracks me up how often you misuse the claim of Cherrypicking. The bump stock ban is most definitely not.

            The due process example is his exact quote from a meeting in which he voluntarily requested Congress pass comprehensive gun control; he only changed his tune after a private meeting with the NRA next day (sound familiar, ie shutdown). It shows how unhinged and unreliable he is.

            And the Marine case is public record and exposes the inherent problems with these deportation roundups. Ironically, anyone that knows about our freedom and liberty should know a citizen doesn’t have to provide papers to support their status. The federal government is supposed to have evidence of illegal status before arresting someone, which they didn’t in this case.

            But its been clear for weeks you don’t care about facts, definitions or rational conversation. You just focus on pimping Trump’s chauvanistic campaign slogans.

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