Walls Work

By most counts, there are now 77 border walls and security fences across the globe, and they generally share one common characteristic: They work.


Many were built in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, as combatting terrorism became a primary concern for governments around the world.  As one might expect, Israel was chief among them.

“If you want to understand whether walls work, Israel is a tremendous example,” David Rubin, the former mayor of Shiloh, Israel, told FOX and Friends.

In the wake of a five year-long terror campaign targeting Israeli cities, the Jewish state built a massive security fence to stop the flow of Palestinian militants from the West Bank.

And it did.

“It was very, very effective and cut down on terrorism in Israel’s cities by 95 percent,” Rubin said.  “To this day, we don’t have terror attacks in the big cities in Israel.”

That’s a far cry from the terror campaign of the beginning of the century.

From September of 2000 to August of 2003, terrorists in Samaria carried out 73 attacks that killed 293 Israelis and injured 1,950 others.  When the first portion of the wall was built, there were only three successful terror attacks.

The wall had stopped a years-long terror campaign in its tracks—and even the terrorists admitted it.

Islamic Jihad leader Abdallah Ramadan Shalah told Al-Manar television in 2006 that while his organization wanted to commit more suicide bombings and mass shootings in Israel, they couldn’t.

“For example,” he said, “there is the separation fence, which is an obstacle to the resistance, and if it were not there the situation would be entirely different.”

In fact, the wall was so successful in stopping attacks from the west that Israel constructed another one to keep out illegal immigrants from Egypt.

“55,000 immigrants came in from the southern border from the years 2000 to 2012, but a wall was built, and in the first year that it was built the illegal entry into Israel was cut almost to nothing and the next year they raised the [height of the wall] and it was cut completely,” Rubin added.  

According to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, roughly 2,300 illegally crossed the border into Israel each month before construction of the southern wall began in 2010.  That number dropped to 36 in the first month after the wall was completed.

In early 2017, Netanyahu touted his country’s wall in a tweet:


“President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel's southern border," he said.  "It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea.”

India, too, has seen success with its walls on the borders of both Pakistan and Bangladesh—so much so that it has been working on completing the single longest border wall in the world with the aim of completely sealing off its borders.

Concerns over both illegal immigration and terrorism (as well as four wars with Pakistan between 1947 and 1999) prompted the construction of 450 miles of secure fencing along the Pakistani border and 1,700 miles of barbed wire fencing on the border with Bangladesh.

And the Indian government wants more—even though its two borders are the fifth and sixth-longest in the entire world.

“We have decided to seal the border between India and Bangladesh as quickly as possible. I know that some obstacles may arise in this work, as some areas are mountainous, some have jungles, and others have rivers,” said Indian Prime Minister Rajnath Singh in 2017.  “We will also work as quickly as possible to seal the border between India and Pakistan.”

Why has the Indian government been so dead set on this for three decades now?  Because it has learned that border walls work.

They certainly did in Morocco, which shut down its border with Algeria following the conclusion of the 15 year-long Western Sahara War and accusations that the Algerian government was harboring Islamic terrorists.

The final straw was an attack that killed two Spanish tourists at a hotel in Marrakech in 1994, and the border has been closed ever since.

Earlier this year, Turkey completed a border wall sealing off 474 miles of its 566 mile border with Syria, while Saudi Arabia finished work started in 2013 on a massive border fence sealing off 1,100 miles of its disputed border with Yemen.

Hungary, too, is working on completion of a border wall to keep out a flood of refugees passing through the country on their way to Western Europe, while Greece has been re-fortifying its fence along the Turkish border.

Yet Americans need not look quite so far away for proof that border walls work since they're already working along America's southern border.

By the mid-1980s, San Diego County had become overrun by crime and drugs flowing in from neighboring Tijuana just south of the Mexican border.  In 1986 alone, Border Patrol agents there caught 629,656 people trying to enter the country illegally.

As the San Diego Union Tribune noted, that number was slightly higher than the population of Las Vegas.

Three years later, construction began on a 14-mile stretch of 10-foot-tall border fencing that would be completed in 1996.  Once it was, border apprehensions dropped to just 5,000 per year.

Although they jumped back up to 31,891 by Fiscal Year 2016, the total is still 95 percent lower than in 1986, when it was estimated that as many as half of all illegal immigrants to the United States entered the country through San Diego County.

By 2006, the remarkable turnaround provided the strongest evidence for the need for even more border fencing in what would become known as the Secure Fence Act.

National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" dispatched reporter Ted Robbins to the region, where Border Patrol officials told him that "San Diego [has] proven that the border infrastructure system does indeed work.  It is highly effective."


After President Bush signed the Secure Fence Act that October (following bipartisan support in Congress), the Department of Homeland Security began work on upwards of 700 miles of border fencing from California to Texas.

The results were as immediate as they were overwhelming, especially in El Paso, Texas, which was a major point of entry since it was adjacent to the crime-ridden Mexican city of Juarez.  As the New York Post reported:

When the [border fence] project first started in 2006, illegal crossings totaled 122,261, but by 2010, when the 131-mile fence was completed from one end of El Paso out into the New Mexico desert, immigrant crossings shrank to just 12,251. 

Before 2010, federal data show the border city was mired in violent crime and drug smuggling, thanks in large part to illicit activities spilling over from the Mexican side. Once the fence went up, however, things changed almost overnight. El Paso since then has consistently topped rankings for cities of 500,000 residents or more with low crime rates, based on FBI-collected statistics.

According to FBI tables, property crimes in El Paso have plunged more than 37 percent to 12,357 from their pre-fence peak of 19,702 a year, while violent crimes have dropped more than 6 percent to 2,682 from a peak of 2,861 a year.

Yuma, Arizona saw a similar turnaround after the Secure Fence Act authorized the construction of a 20-foot high steel barrier that reduced border apprehensions by a whopping 92 to 96 percent.  

After the border fence in San Diego County closed the most popular illegal entry point in the country, Yuma became the next target.  From 1996 until the erection of the wall, Border Patrol agents made an average of 800 arrests in the Yuma area per day.

By 2009, though, that all changed.

Apprehensions dropped to just 15 per day.  While Border Patrol agents stopped 2,700 vehicles trying to penetrate the border each year before the wall was completed, in 2015 they stopped just 27.  

All told, says National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd, the nearly 700 miles of fencing along America's southern border has been highly effective everywhere it has been erected.

"I can personally tell you from the work I have done on the southwest border that walls actually work," he said during an impromptu news conference.  "I worked in Naco, Arizona for ten years.  We didn't have physical barriers in Naco and illegal immigration and drug smuggling was absolutely out of control.  We built those walls, those physical barriers, and illegal immigration dropped exponentially.  Anywhere that you look where we have built walls, they have worked.  They have been an absolute necessity for Border Patrol agents in securing the border."

And not just America's southern border, but across the world at every border that has needed securing, the simple, inescapable truth is that walls work.

Dan O'Donnell

Dan O'Donnell

Common Sense Central is edited by WISN's Dan O'Donnell. Dan provides unique conservative commentary and analysis of stories that the mainstream media often overlooks. Read more


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