As I understand it, the Sinaloa cartel are masters of tunneling under the border and transporting people and drugs. If this is true (wall has no effect on migration), is there any other political purpose to build a $25B wall?

  • Please specify which cartel. Unless the ability is purely hypothetical, please give a URL with more about masterful tunneling.
    – agc
    Jan 28, 2018 at 19:08
  • Only if the southern walls singluar purpose is the complete interdiction of cartel smuggling. That is not the singular or even stated a purpose of the wall. Feb 2, 2018 at 5:38

1 Answer 1


Not in any way, shape or form.

  1. The bandwidth of a tunnell is immeasurably smaller than of open terrain.

    You can only transfer a few people at a time through the tunnel. You can transfer hundreds or thousands more people in open terrain.

  2. The tunnels are possible to detect and destroy. Given the geopolitical situation, that possibility gets easier and easier with better technology

    Israel was forced to develop the technology due to the threat of Hamas tunnels from Gaza. That know-how will only increase. Unlike the tunnel technology - you can't make a stealth undetectable tunnel, especially given cost constraints.

  3. Additionally, tunnels can't be dug everywhere. So, the interception and enforcement becomes easier as you only need to cover small areas where tunneling is possible. You can't tunnel through a rock or under a river.

  4. Speaking of cost constraints: tunnel making costs money.

    The reason people get smuggled in such large numbers across the border is economics - the cost of smuggling a person (adjusted for risk of interception) is less than economic benefit of successful smuggling - which, in turn is paid off by economic benefits of a smuggled person being in USA.

    Needing to build the tunnel affects both microeconomic sides of the equation - you raise the cost of transit a lot, and you reduce the amount of people being smuggled. At some point, it becomes simply uneconomical to use the tunnels to smuggle people.

  • I agree that economics could be used to deter improper immigration. But, why would tunnelers be unable to tunnel through a rock or under a river (see Lincoln Tunnel NY)? Large numbers of people / vehicles transit through tunnels everyday: Lincoln tunnel = 52,632 vehicles per day per Wikipedia
    – gatorback
    Jan 28, 2018 at 18:32
  • 1
    @gatorback Sure, but those tunnels don't have to be built without authorities noticing and remain hidden, and cost extra time and money to make work compared to tunneling through regular dirt. Jan 28, 2018 at 18:42

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