During our Administrators Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, ACSA Distinguished Professor Roger Schluntz presented a motion opposing the construction of a border wall between Mexico and the United States. Similar resolutions have already been approved by AIA chapters in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. Although the ACSA board has not in the last 15 years been faced with such consideration, we believed it was an important issue to address, as it directly relates to our mission and those of our member schools. Personally, as the son of an immigrant who fled Franco’s Spain, who is married to the daughter of an immigrant who fled Castro’s Cuba, I strongly and emphatically repudiate any attempts to classify human beings into first or second class citizens. Diverse groups are scientifically proven to be more innovative than non-diverse groups, and as architects, we understand that diversity and innovation are fundamental to our discipline, our programs and our academic communities.
– Francisco J. Rodriguez-Suarez, ACSA President
As educators, we are obligated to provide future professionals to serve the greater public welfare through ethical and intelligent stewardship of natural resources and the design of physical environments.
As envisioned, the U.S. federal government’s proposed border wall—envisioned to be roughly 35-feet high and 1,954 miles long, extending from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean— would negatively affect the natural environment, including lands on Native American reservations, within U.S. state and national parks, and on significant ecosystems. Such preserves were established to safeguard unique cultural, historic, environmental, or recreational inheritances of great American value. Lands needed to construct this wall must be taken from owners, many of whom have kept these holdings for generations. The wall would also send a deleterious message to Mexico, our neighbor to the south, hampering commerce and posing severe economic constraints to residents on both sides of the border.
Lacking an independent cost–benefit and environmental impact analysis, a bipartisan conversation on its political impacts, a consideration of alternative means for securing the border, and a realistic means of funding, the construction of this barrier is fundamentally irresponsible and detrimental to the nation’s interest.
The estimated $18 to $33 billion to construct a border wall with Mexico is an eighteenth century solution to a twenty-first century problem and is of dubious efficacy as a deterrent to illegal drugs, crime, and immigration. Such funding would far better serve the interests and quality of life of U.S. citizens if it were directed toward infrastructure projects that would actually build the civic structure of our communities: parks, schools, hospitals, libraries, community centers, mass transit, a smart power grid, national fiber-optic Internet, health care facilities, climate impact infrastructure, hurricane relief, or an improved national road system designed to accommodate autonomous vehicles. Such infrastructure would stimulate the national economy and provide a tangible civic benefit that a wall cannot.
Therefore, be it resolved, the Board of Directors of the ACSA communicates its opposition to the proposal for a continuous border wall separating the United States from Mexico, our country’s neighbor, friend, trading partner, and long-time ally.