TRUMP’S GREAT WALL – protection or exclusion?

Fig.1: A Description of Trump’s Wall Plan.

Trump’s campaign to build this ‘great wall’ along the US-Mexico border (see Fig.2) has been constructed to staff solutions that work as border protection and defence against the tide of drug trafficking, illegal arms and undocumented immigration.

This form of border security allows us to question what Trump aims to achieve by this construction, and what results and implications the physicality of the wall might produce for the social realities of the Mexicans, who Trump aims to exclude.

The wall is a physical barrier that acts as a solution to border security. Trump desires to build this multibillion dollar material infrastructure; approximately 2,000 miles long along the US-Mexico border, to deter harbouring further illegal immigrants and reshape the immigration laws and national security policy.

Fig. 2: US Mexico border

The wall will act as a physical border to signify this political symbol of power; it will inscribe the boundaries Trump aims to
put into place by hallmarking the division of two cultures and two countries. The wall that will isolate the two cultures transforms the space into a heavily patrolled military zone and by physically isolating the two cultures, it perpetuates violence amongst the social realities of the Mexicans who cannot escape; rights are reduced, rights to citizenship and mobility in seeking political asylum are lost. We can see Rodgers and O’Neil’s (2012) description of infrastructural violence be applied to this form of security – it reshapes the lives of those who are now being excluded, removing their social and physical presence in the US- thus this space of division alienates the Mexicans from access to the other side of the border.

The concept of a biometric border that Amoore (2006) discusses, looks towards our current era of digital technologies and its many affordances in regulating and policing border management. Biometric borders are a technologized recording of people who exit and enter the country, especially those who are non- US citizens. The system stores electronic personal data to categorise and legitimise the rights of peoples’ movements and access across borders. This digital form of security is a contrasting example of Trumps physical ‘wall’ of security, but it also functions and operates as a ‘data wall’ by identifying and dividing certain cultural profiles and identities to decide who is given access.

There are different forms of critical infrastructure protections that mitigates threats to security. How we have developed different forms of security borders to protect against threats or reduce crimes/violence can take different forms. As Collier and Lakoff (2008) have traced – the development of different security techniques are responses to where vulnerabilities are found within systems, leading to the wealth of new infrastructures. In this case, we can identity that Trump is building this wall to exclude and render non-US citizens as outsiders- to separate and repress the Mexicans from the US culture, almost in a sense criminalising the Mexicans.

This wall acts to unify the Americans, redefining their status and culture by physically separating them through the security of these borders.


Amoore, L. (2006). “Biometric borders: Governing Mobilities in the war on terror”. Political Geography 25 (3), 336-351.

Collier S. & A. Lakoff (2008). The Vulnerability of Vital Systems: How ‘Critical Infrastructure’ became a security problem. In The Politics of Securing the Homeland: Critical Infrastructure, Risk and Securitisation  London: Routledge.

Rodgers, D & B. O’Neill (2012). “Infrastructural violence: Introduction to the special issue”, Ethnography 13(4):401-412.






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