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In-depth: Answers about the wall, part one

A man looks out at the U.S. border where workers are replacing parts of the U.S. border wall for a higher one, in Tijuana, Mexico, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Workers are reinforcing and changing pieces of the wall where migrants seeking to reach the U.S. have been crossing. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

SALT LAKE CITY — The border between Mexico and the United States spans nearly 2,000 miles – but these countries are hardly the first to have some span of fence, wall or security barrier between them.


Dennis Wagner flew over the entire border in a helicopter on assignment for USA Today. It took ten days to go over four states from ocean to ocean.

“It’s just overwhelming, the variety of topography, the landscape, and the beauty of it, and the amount of remoteness,” he said.

654 miles of the border is fenced right now. Most of that was built under the Secure Fence Act of 2006. But then there’s the Rio Grande River, huge bluffs and cliffs, vast desert, and sand dunes.

“Some sections of the border are so remote. There’s no roads or buildings anywhere as far as you can see from a helicopter – it’s just desolate nothingness,” Wagner says.

He says his trip informed him about how difficult it would be for an illegal immigrant or a coyote to hike through those desert areas.

“But on the other hand, when flying over cities or towns, you can see why it makes sense to have a fence there, because people could just cross right in, enter neighborhoods and disappear,” he explained.

World Atlas says in 2017, there were 20 completed border barriers in the world, seven under construction, 1 planned, and five proposed. But the UN refugee agency lists at least 77 walls or fences around the world. Most of the time, it’s to prevent or end conflicts.

CNN’s Tom Foreman says boundaries help control who goes in or out of a country.

“In Hungary, there’s work being done on fences, that are both razor ribbon topped and electrified. That was in response to large numbers of immigrants seeking new homes, and it also seems to be working,” Foreman says.

Walls and fences also protect trade routes and prevent goods smuggling.

AEI (American Enterprise Institute) senior fellow Michael Rubin told Fox News that Israel, Cyprus and Morocco saw wars and terrorism end when walls went up.

“Lots of countries have built walls, not just for security, but they’ve also used it to prevent illegal immigration. The record is clear, the precedent is in,” he says. “It works.”

Thursday, in part two of our special report, KSL will look at the huge amount of drugs coming to Utah from Mexico, and how law enforcement says a wall will help.