I personally see some advantages as well as potential pitfalls in building a wall on the southern border. As an American who values freedom above all else, my biggest concern against the building of a wall; is that under a tyrannical regime, the wall could be used to prevent Americans from leaving the country just as easily as it's used to keep migrants out. There's obviously a long history of totalitarian regimes around the world and throughout history that use or have used border walls for such a purpose.

My question is, therefore; have any prominent US politicians posed this argument for a reason not to build a wall?

  • A border wall would restrict US citizens' ability to enter Mexico away from an official port of entry. It wouldn't prevent them from entering Mexico at a designated crossing point, however.
    – phoog
    Jan 11, 2019 at 0:48
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    @phoog See "under a tyrannical regime" Jan 11, 2019 at 1:33
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    @guest271314 yes, I suppose I overlooked that bit. Such keeping in of citizens was known in many eastern European countries in the middle of the 20th century. I guess everyone just assumes that the US isn't likely to get to that point in the foreseeable future, and that if it did, there would be far more serious problems than whether a border wall had already been built.
    – phoog
    Jan 11, 2019 at 5:50
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    @guest271314 in the context of US political discourse, "everyone" means "everyone who is interested in US political discourse." But none of your points about a national emergency suggest that the US is going to start preventing its citizens from leaving its territory.
    – phoog
    Jan 11, 2019 at 6:49
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    not a prominent US politician but when my French son, then 7 years old, first heard on the radio about Trump's border wall project, his first reaction was "Is it true ? But it's stupid, then Americans won't be able to go to Mexico anymore, and Mexicans won't be able to go to the USA! And does Trump also wants to build a wall on the border with Canada ?"
    – Evargalo
    Jan 11, 2019 at 15:04

2 Answers 2


Not that I'm aware of. It's kind of a moot point--it'd be far easier to escape to Canada whether there's a wall or not.

  • Or, conversely, fly to Canada and escape to the U.S. Jan 11, 2019 at 0:03
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    Well, not if you live in Laredo, TX. Jan 11, 2019 at 0:18
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    @AzorAhai and not if your intended destination is in Mexico.
    – phoog
    Jan 11, 2019 at 0:56

No. Have not come across any propositions of the sort specifically authored or iterated by any "prominent US politicians". It is quite impossible for a wall to keep U.S. citizens from venturing over, under or through any barrier.

A static barrier affixed to the ground cannot stop an individual who owns and operates a private jet from traveling anywhere they please. Thus, it would not be a rational argument to make. Unless the premise is that only certain classes or demographics of U.S. residents (for example, U.S. residents who do not own and operate a private jet) could be kept in the U.S. against their will by a physical barrier affixed to the ground.

As an example, consider a barrier being constructed even around your own residence or city. Add the condition that your family has a gravely ill child within that enclosure. The motivation of the individual, family, or community at large to provide urgent health care for their family member will overcome any physical barrier. The average U.S. resident has immediate, if not very proximal access to the materials or tools needed to breach any barrier in instances of necessity or sheer will or hunger or for their freedom and liberty or to escape the monopoly on or scarcity of resources within such an enclosure.

On a large scale, one could simply take the example of county jails, prisons, and penitentiaries. Each of which is a secure environment, surrounded by walls, barbed wire, and armed guards. It could be presumed that illicit drugs and other contraband would not be able to get in to the facility. However, that is simply not the case. The prison guards would argue that contraband is smuggled in via family members or lawyers - exclusively.

The reality is at a X+% mark-up on ordinary goods, the economics of the situation is an incentive for the prison guards/military/etc. to smuggle contraband in to the facilities. Examples

A comprehensive list at this answer would be far too lengthy as to such activity.

The military is not exempt either.

And what smugglers themselves state, as included as an example within the context of a broader scale and scope at this answer

U.S. citizens, or residents that are not citizens, are far too accustomed to their freedom to accept being locked in to their home, city or nation. However, consideration of a dual-use for a barrier is a reasonable concern (save for individuals and institutions who do not own and operate their own private jets) for institutions that examine the impacts of government projects and policies on the populace (psychological impact, or "national consciousness"); even where the social and economic realities of such a situation is impractical , if only due to bribery of corrupt official (sources: List of American state and local politicians convicted of crimes; List of American federal politicians convicted of crimes); and the ingenuity and access to resources of and by the vast majority of the U.S. population to compromise static physical barriers.

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    A static barrier also cannot keep Mexicans who own private planes out of the US, but nobody is advancing that argument to say that the border wall is futile.
    – phoog
    Jan 11, 2019 at 1:02
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    @phoog I don't think anyone is under the delusion that a physical barrier will stop everyone, but rather make it more difficult. I can't imagine too many people who are wealthy enough to own planes will be looking to leave Mexico.
    – MolonLabe
    Jan 11, 2019 at 3:06
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    @guest271314 my concern is that Americans have lost considerable freedoms in the last few decades. That has largely happened under the guise of security or protecting the people. As government grows and continues to become more controlling my concern is that the wall could become a tool of tyrants as has happened in some countries. Of course tyranny disproportionately affects less wealthy people more than the uber rich. At least until the state starts confiscation of property. I am just curious if this argument has been made and I somehow missed it
    – MolonLabe
    Jan 11, 2019 at 6:39
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    Many people and goods were smuggled through the Berlin wall as well, but it still prevented a large portion of that smuggling from occurring. A barrier could theoretically be used to turn the entire country into a prison at some point and I have not heard this argument. In a country that values freedom, it seems to me that, that angle would be explored or at least discussed. It's more legit than some of the arguments I have heard both for and against the building of the wall, but I don't wish to digress down that path.
    – MolonLabe
    Jan 11, 2019 at 6:50
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    @guest271314 Well, again, the question is asking if about a counter-argument to building the wall as a potential use for it being used against the people has been used. The question isn't asking if the wall will stop the "entire" US population, as you wish to change the question to. The question supporting comments specifically cites the wall's efficacy against Americans to be similar to that of against migrants, something totally ignored in the answer. This answer is focused on picking apart the premise to the question, not answering it.
    – David S
    Jan 11, 2019 at 22:39

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