Border Walls Throughout History

As Trump continues to battle for a Mexico/U.S. border wall, a look at crumbled walls 

Brandy Bond, Staff Writer

Nobody builds walls better than Donald Trump (according to Donald Trump) and the President stated earlier this month that he would not sign a new DACA deal unless funding is allocated towards building a new border wall. The Trump administration has put forth a new proposal that supports a pathway to citizenship for not only the 700,000 Dreamers who have applied for DACA, but also for an additional 1.1 million undocumented immigrants who qualify but have not yet applied. In addition, the President wants $25 billion for border security. As part of his touted promises to “make America great again,” Trump’s wall has been a point of contestation since he first announced his platform in 2015. Border walls are nothing new, but with a closer look at a history of their repercussions, it’s surprising that many nations continue to build them. However, Democrats, believing the protection of “Dreamers” to be much more pressing than the border wall, may have to compromise on Trump’s wall construction budget in order further DACA efforts.

PC: Carol Guzy – The Washington Post

When examining different walls throughout history, it is evident that they are more of a political statement rather than a physical barrier.  Even today, many walls serve the same political purpose despite the constant reinforcement from various governments that claim the walls simply serve as a physical barrier. With the possibility of a United States/Mexico border wall, it is important take a closer look at history and what it can reveal: the inevitable failure of constructed walls.

  1. The Great Wall of China

The construction of the Great Wall of China began in 7th century BCE and is one of the most popular border walls throughout history. Today the wall is a very popular tourist attraction, although centuries before, it was installed with the purpose of keeping out invaders from the North. The wall itself did not physically prevent invasions, instead serving as political propaganda rather than actual security.

  1. The Berlin Wall

The construction of the Berlin Wall began on August 13, 1961, and eventually extended 28 miles, creating a separation between East and West Berlin. Once the wall was completely constructed, it became the scene of highly publicised escapes that often ended in death. In November of 1989, after an announcement from East Berlin’s Communist Party, more than 2 million people gathered to help demolish the wall with hammers and picks, while large cranes dismantled the rest. While some museums and collectors have pieces of the wall, most of it was recycled to rebuild Germany. Today, the Berlin Wall is a prominent symbol of the Cold War and reminds those who visit it of the importance of a unified nation.

  1. Belfast Peace Walls

The Belfast Peace Walls were constructed in 1969 in order to separate Catholic and Protestant neighbourhoods during series of extreme sectarian violence and rioting, known as the Troubles. The Peace Walls are small structures that have gates open during the day, and it is possible to avoid them by taking a detour. To date, over 100 walls still stand in Northern Ireland, but in 2013, the government vowed to remove all the walls by 2023. The first Peace Wall was torn down in 2016.

Ostensibly, border walls may be simple physical barriers, but an examination of their histories illuminates that these walls are more than just structures. They represent ideologies, and can divide nations, oppress various groups, and take many lives. So, will border walls really solve the problems of a nation? Or do they just cause more issues than they amend? Just like the other walls throughout history, only time will tell.