Donald Trump is vowing to build a wall along the U.S. Southern border with Mexico, likening it to the Great Wall of China and even dubbing his proposed border barrier "The Great Wall of Trump."
It's a key part of a tough-on-immigration stance that has powered him to front-runner status in Republican polls and will likely be touted again by the billionaire real estate developer at Wednesday's debate.
Yet, just as the Ming Dynasty’s 13,000-mile wall failed to keep out the Manchurians, Trump's barricade would likely be an ineffective way of addressing the nation’s immigration challenges, border experts say.
"The consensus is, it didn’t work very well,’’ said Edward Alden, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, of the wall that dates back to the 14th century, which the Manchurians repeatedly broke through.
The idea of walling off a nation, either to stop immigration flows or foreign invaders, has broad historical appeal — from Roman Emperor Hadrian’s stone wall to Israel’s West Bank wall and Northern Ireland’s divide between its Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods. However, walls are often more symbolic barriers than practical ones. The Germans just marched around the French Maginot Line to invade Belgium, and the Manchurians repeatedly broke through the Great Wall of China.
Even the most ardent critics of U.S. immigration policy are not clamoring for a wall. The emphasis, they say, should be on cracking down on those who overstay their visas and the companies that employ them.