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jca's avatar

What do you think about the proposal to have a border wall built between the US and Mexico, and having prisoners build it?

Asked by jca (36043points) January 26th, 2017

What do you think about Trump’s idea of a border wall?

What do you think about ideas floating around about having prisoners build the wall?

I heard about it yesterday and just googled it.

In theory, it might make the cost of the wall affordable.

I see Mexico says they’re not paying for the wall because they don’t believe in walls.

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31 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

Poor idea on many levels. It will be overpriced (even with prison labor), it won’t be effective, and it is a terrible idea on diplomatic and international relations front. But mostly, it will not work.

But if Trumpie insists on building it, it seems like paying price to American workers – not low labor cost prisoners – would be the patriotic thing to do. What not employ Americans at full pay scales to do the job?

Why outsource to prisoners?

ragingloli's avatar

To save cost, we could gift you the remnants of the East German Wall, a.k.a. the “Antifascist Protective Barrier”.
They are born from the same spirit, after all.
Comes complete with colourful decorations.

Cruiser's avatar

Pretty smart idea. The inmates will be fighting over who gets to work outdoors and outside the prison walls for a change. Good for prisoner morale as well.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@Cruiser – why not use this project as a “put America back to work again” jobs program and pay full wages?

zenvelo's avatar

Waste of time and money. It will boost employment in Mexican ladder manufacturers.

We already have wall on much of the California border. It just displaces crossings, including the building of sophisticated tunnels.

And how are they going to build a wall down the middle of the Rio Grande?

Seek's avatar

Ooh, and if we run out of prisoners to exploit for slave labor in the desert in lowest-bidder conditions, we can just round up some of them colored folk smoking their wacky tobaccy in the cities!

Mariah's avatar

Most illegal immigrants arrive here legally on a work visa and then just overstay the length of the visa, rather than creeping over the border Looney-Toons style.

Will we have people monitoring the entire 1000+ miles of the wall after it’s built? Ladders are a thing that exist.

I have problems with our current use of prisoners as slave labor.

I wonder why it’s OK to spend billions of taxpayer dollars on this wall and on protecting Trump&co in Trump Tower instead of the White House while the people’s healthcare is apparently too expensive to cover.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

OOH OOH and have Trump construction be the management company and import all that concrete from China because of the sheer volume, twenty feet to fifty feet high and over a 1000 miles.

The land is mostly private property, that is going to be an added expense.

Labor is not going to be the driving factor of cost (estimates of $7 Billion to $27 Billion)

Pachy's avatar

I’d say let’s build a wall around the White House with Trump inside.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

It’s a pipe dream, only way to solve this problem is to remove the incentive to come here in the first place. A wall while symbolic isn’t stopping shit.

Aster's avatar

Sounds like a good idea to me if they have a lot of guards at the site which seems like a reasonable decision.
A lot of people speak of “ladders.” Imagine a fifty foot tall ladder with people running up them as fast as they can go with police lurking around. I had no idea they even made fifty foot ladders.

Aster's avatar

Bill Clinton was in it all the way to stop “illegal aliens” from coming in:

Cruiser's avatar

Actually @elbanditoroso I would much rather see building the wall create real jobs. I googled this notion of using prisoners to help build the wall was a lone sheriff from Massachusetts idea and the Trump team has yet to comment on the idea and I sincerely doubt they ever will. The sheriff did say he would only offer the services of inmates who volunteered for the chance to work on the wall project.

But there are major flaws in this Sheriffs thinking. Who will pay to transport them to TX, who will pay for the security and housing of these inmates? I believe the cost to do all this would be prohibitive as the average TX construction worker will earn $113.00/day. Transport, feed, house and secure these inmates would cost easily double, more likely triple the cost of hiring local labor. This sheriffs idea will never see the light of day…the ACLU will see to it that it never does.

Unofficial_Member's avatar

If the wall is really designed to be impenetrable and supervised 24/7 then I’ll agree that it might help with the border issue between US and Mexico. Everything is done for a reason. It’s would be a premature judgement to say that someone of a high caliber as Trump (who is backed up by a group of intelligent people) will act ineffectively and not for the benefit of US.

As for using the prisoners to build the wall, I think it’s a good idea as it allow free/cheap labor for construction as well as an incentive for prisoners to get amnesty. It benefits both parties in the end.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

The construction of the wall would have to be prefab, all elements would be made at a large factory (high robotics) and trucked to and installed on-site with great big cranes and derricks by highly trained riggers and operators.

This is NOT making an Egyptian Pyramid with the prisoners pulling the limestone blocks up a dirt ramp.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

The wall proposal is a stupid idea for many reasons.

It would be far more simple and inexpensive to enforce laws already on the books and make illegal entry unappealing to would be violators.

I’ll predict the following here on Fluther again:

The wall as Trump promises just won’t happen.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I have heard (and my purely visual experience agrees) that it is more expensive to use prisoners for work off site than hiring locals. It is a security nightmare and requires a large team of handlers to keep them from running.
In my county, low level (low risk) prisoners are occasionally used to clean up the trash along the highway. Sounds like a good deal for everyone. Right? But! There is a Sheriff bus of officers moving in front of the group, a bus officers in the rear following the group, usually at least one or two walking alongside so the prisoners can’t jump into friend’s passing car, a Sheriff’s car that is used to run for supplies and food. It takes more Sheriffs, more guards, (and pensions) more transport equipment. That is very expensive.
Also, based on statistics from the August 2015 NY jail break one escape costs the taxpayers about $1 million per day!
Sure, the wage for a prisoner is virtually free but all the other expenses increase tremendously once they are taken out of the prison.
It costs much more than simply hiring a local group and having them do it.

Maybe they should put the wall construction up for bid and let contractors bid on it. $18 million per mile? Really?!.

filmfann's avatar

The wall is a stupid idea. What prevents someone from tunneling under it?
And when our prisoners make a break for it across the border? I’m sure the Mexican authorities will be very cooperative in returning them.

Darth_Algar's avatar

China (or, as Trump pronounces it, “jina”), once built a wall to keep undesirables out. It didn’t work for them ether.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

You must understand Donnie doesn’t think things through.
He ran his companies by fiat (an arbitrary decree or pronouncement, especially by a person or group of persons having absolute authority to enforce) and I don’t think he’ll change.

Seek's avatar

The wall is impenetrable! Airplanes don’t exist!

Seek's avatar

Darth, Hadrian was disappointed in the wall’s effectiveness, too.

zenvelo's avatar

The silliest thing about the wall is it really isn’t needed unless you want to keep Mexican immigrants in the US.

In 2015 there was a net outflow of immigrants to Mexico.

kritiper's avatar

I’m all for it. “Good fences make good neighbors.” If he can get it done, good for him! (I want the wall to be built like the Berlin wall was!)
Fences or security walls are just like locks on doors: They keep the casual intruders out but not the hell-bent-on-entering ones
It doesn’t really matter who builds it because it will still take lots of $$$$ to pay for it. Mexico won’t pay for it and “He” can’t force them to short of holding them hostage with threat of a nuclear bombing.
Will it ever be built? I won’t even venture a guess.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

Nobody seems to want to talk about addressing the problem at it’s core.

Mexico’s governmental corruption is so bad it makes America’s leaders look like novices.

We happily enjoy Mexico’s oil, labor and tourist destinations while it’s citizens endure poverty and drug cartel crossfire.

This is wrong.

Darth_Algar's avatar


Yup, that too. Actually, I think the Berlin Wall was the only one that might have been largely effective in its purpose. But then, it was built to keep people in, not to keep people out.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

“It was built to keep people in, not to keep people out.”

This is an extremely important distinction that seemingly everyone ignores.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@Darth_Algar Yes a double wall with a no man’s zone with machine guns aimed at the no man’s zone is different.

dappled_leaves's avatar

I think it’s a great incentive to have more young men thrown in jail. Just what America needs.

Brian1946's avatar


“I have heard (and my purely visual experience agrees) that it is more expensive to use prisoners for work off site than hiring locals. It is a security nightmare and requires a large team of handlers to keep them from running.”

Good point.

Trump will want to build it real fast so he’ll need thousands of prisoners.

Instead of having to break out of prison, they’ll get uncontested transportation right to the border of their ideal escape destination. .

However, I’m sure none of them will even think of trying to run, because they’ll be getting paid loads of money to continue construction. ~

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Brian1946 From what I can see, and this is purely an estimate, you need one guard for 2 prisoners. At least that’s what it looks like when they’re cleaning the trash on the highway here in NY. .

Hey!!! Maybe they can hire the Mexicans waiting in front of the Home Depot! You can get 6 Mexicans for the price of one prison guard.

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