Trump’s wall is a 12th-century solution to 21st-century problem

SAN DIEGO — President Trump only spent about three hours in America’s Finest City last week.

It was barely enough time to get a cup of coffee. Or — since San Diego was founded by the Spanish in 1769, and today hums along due in large part to the productivity of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans — maybe a café con leche.

From the tone of his remarks, Trump could’ve been in town to promote a new book titled “Border Security for Dummies — 12th-Century Solutions for 21st-Century Problems.”

That’s because, however brief, the visit gave Trump a chance to inspect prototypes for his “big beautiful wall” on the U.S.-Mexico border, which could cost as much as $25 billion.

You remember, the wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for. Our neighbor essentially told Trump: “No way, Jose.” Just as well, because — even if Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto had cut a check — there was no time for Trump to dash across the border and pick it up. We really need to look into direct deposit.

There are some things in life that look better close-up than they do from far away. The border wall is the opposite. The farther you live from the border, and thus the less you know about Mexico and immigration, the better the idea sounds.

I bet there are bumper stickers on cars in Cleveland or Pittsburgh or Milwaukee that read: “Build the Wall.” Well, in this border city, folks know that any solution to a vexing policy issue that fits on a bumper sticker is probably not the best idea since Google.

Besides, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The Trump Wall will probably never materialize. And even if it does, it will be neither big nor beautiful. Trump will be lucky to break ground on a few hundred miles along a border that spans 1,954 miles. And, since it is likely to rely at some points on fencing and sensors, it certainly won’t be a solid structure made of steel and aluminum.

Have you seen the price of steel and aluminum these days? It might be cheaper for Trump to use silver.

And speaking of silver, plenty of it is about to rain down on the arch-enemies of the U.S. Border Patrol — the ruthless, multimillion dollar human-smuggling cartels that welcome any talk of building walls because it lets them double their prices.

Depending on where and when you cross, a one-way trip across the U.S. border can now cost as much as $4,000. If Trump ever builds his wall — or even a generic version of it — the price will jump to $8,000.

Trump always brags about how smart he is because he went to an Ivy League college.

Here’s what I picked up when I took a break from attending an Ivy League college to enroll for a year as a visiting student at a state college back home in Central California: Employing a strategy that strengthens your adversary is, well, not smart.

As someone who has covered the immigration debate for more than 25 years, I feel like I’ve been writing about the concept of a border wall since California belonged to Mexico.

Don’t let the fact that I’m Mexican-American fool you. I want to give the Border Patrol what they’ve been demanding from politicians for years with no luck: tunnel-detection equipment, roads along the border, the most sophisticated technology. You see, I’m in favor of border security. I’m just not in favor of dumb ideas that backfire and do more harm than good.

While in San Diego, Trump told a crowd of supporters that California wants the wall, and San Diego wants the wall.

Actually, according to polls, both statements are fake news. The only people who want a wall are California’s newest and whiniest minority: Republicans.

But since California is a deep-blue state where Democrats in the state legislature can pass whatever pieces of ridiculous legislation they like — and believe me, they come up with plenty — without a single Republican vote, who cares what the GOP thinks? In this state of nearly 40 million people, it sometimes feels as if you could stick all the Republicans into a publicly financed football stadium.

How did my home state get this broken? Like this: Back in the 1990s Republicans in California took leave of their senses over immigration and alienated the gigantic Latino population by proposing dumb, overly punitive ideas that backfired and did more harm than good.

Thank goodness that sort of thing doesn’t happen anymore.

Ruben Navarrette’s email address is His daily podcast, “Navarrette Nation,” is available through every podcast app.

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