No. 224 – Not-So-Great Wall

US-Mexican barrier image ©Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

Prog 2125’s (2019) Grey Area (written by Dan Abnett) cover by Mark Harrison v President Donald Trump’s proposed[1] US-Mexican border wall

Existing barrier (December 2018)

The US-Mexican border is nearly 3,000 km (2,000 miles) long and hosts at present about 1,000 km (650 miles) of one form of barrier or another, up to a height of nine metres (30 ft), mostly constructed under the [George W.] Bush administration. The cost[2] of President Trump’s proposed wall is conservatively estimated at $16 million (£12 million) per mile with a total price tag of $15 billion (£11.5 billion) to $25 billion (£19 billion), with maintenance costs of up to $750 million (£574 million) a year, not including the price of private land acquisitions that could push that total cost much higher, with manned patrols and surveillance adding further long-term costs.

The treatment of undocumented immigrants, particularly children, in US detention centres sparked widespread condemnation in 2018, and Trump administration claims of criminality among illegal immigrants from Latin American countries – immigration status notwithstanding – are wildly and demonstrably exaggerated.


The cost/benefit debate of a US-Mexican border wall rests to some extent on differing interpretations of a report on The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Immigration issued by the US National Academy of Sciences in 2016, which states that while first generation illegal immigration can place a strain the economy, second and third generation immigrants, however, benefit the economy to a degree that largely nullifies those initial negative effects, although those benefits would be distributed unevenly between native US citizens who own more capital and those who own less. On a practical level, studies conducted by Texas A&M University and Texas Tech University indicate that the wall is unlikely to be effective at reducing illegal immigration or the movement of contraband.

The tagline “Brave New World?” on the prog cover is a reference to Aldous Huxley’s (1894–1963) novel Brave New World[4] (Chatto & Windus, 1932), concerning a futuristic utopian society challenged by a single outsider.

Donald Trump also features in HoH No. 114 – This Stuff is Gold!


  1. At time of posting the Trump administration has completed no new mileage of fencing or other barriers anywhere on the border, and has only replaced existing fencing
  2. Both the current Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and his predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto, have emphatically refused to fund the construction of a border wall
  3. “XeNO!” is a reference to Xenomorph XX121, designed by Swiss artist H.R. Giger (1940–2014) for Alien (20th Century Fox, 1979)
  4. “New World,” in the context of the Grey Area tagline, is probably also a reference to the European colonisation of the Americas after their discovery by Christopher Columbus [Italian: Cristoforo Colombo, Spanish: Cristóbal Colón] (1451–1506) in 1492; although the term Mundus Novus was first coined by his successor and fellow Italian countryman, Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci (1454–1512), who discovered the continental American mainland (although “America” is not named after him, but is a Spanish derivation of the Icelandic name for North America, “Markland” (Icelandic: “the Outback”), as in “A-Mark-ia”, and as such named by Columbus himself, who visited Iceland in 1477-78, gathering there acounts of the American mainland’s existence [Graeme Davis, Vikings in America (Birlinn, 2009)])