DUELING COLUMN: U.S. – Mexico border wall is foreign policy

Eduardo Alvarez/ Opinion Director

The U.S.-Mexico border wall, despite what you might believe, is very much a foreign policy issue. One may make the case to the contrary, since all the political authority required to begin its construction comes from within the United States. In the case of the wall, however, its ramifications on our entire region would be so profound, that to deny its status as a foreign policy issue would be to fixate oneself on a useless technicality.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica defines foreign policy as the  “General objectives that guide the activities and relationships of one state in its interactions with other states” This is a far cry from the idea that, in order for something to qualify as foreign policy, it must be bilateral in nature.

Indeed, there are many political issues we categorize as foreign policy that are totally multilateral and domestic in nature. No set of sanctions against other nation; like economic sanctions on Iran or Cuba, are contingent on whether those countries agree to them.

Even the Monroe Doctrine, arguably the most famous foreign policy measure in U.S. history in relation to our continent, was entirely American in terms of its decision making.

The border wall is no different. It would powerfully affect U.S.-Mexican relations both diplomatically as well as politically and culturally. It’s imagery is so powerful, in fact, that it strengthened the candidacy of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and helped catapult him to the presidency of Mexico.

The fact is that the U.S. is the most powerful, most influential nation in human history. No action it carries out can be truly domestic. And when something is as transformative as a border wall, this is  even truer.

We must also keep in mind that many foreign policy measures are carried out by the executive branch; the president.

In a normal situation, the Congress, with its power of the purse, would be the ones to approve the budget for the project and its construction.

But the country’s current situation is anything but normal.

So that the border wall has become foreign policy even in the way it is carried out; since Trump has used executive stubbornness to force the government into an ongoing shutdown until his plans for the border wall come to fruition.

Like it or not, this border wall is foreign  policy and should be treated as such.

Read the other side: Despite isolationist ideology, the border wall is domestic policy


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of Panther Press Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

Photo by Patrick Tomasso from Unsplash



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