A lifetime ago, in March 2016, John Oliver spent a Last Week Tonight segment exploring the potential problems with Trump’s signature campaign promise: the border wall. In this week’s episode, Oliver revisited those problems—though they’re now no longer just potential. Oliver checked in on that “big, beautiful wall” that Trump promised, including how much has actually been built, who is building it, and what damage is being done.
To date, hundreds of miles of the wall have been funded, but only 5 of those miles are in locations where no barrier at all previously existed between the U.S. and Mexico. That might sound like not much has been done, but comparing the low-level fencing that existed before to the new 30-foot-high steel bollard fencing is, as Oliver puts it, like comparing John Cena and John Oliver: “On paper, there are some similarities, but when you compare the two side by side, one is gigantic and one looks like it might collapse if you press on it.”
The new barriers are not only messing up animals’ migratory patterns. Because of a provision tucked into the 2005 Real ID Act that allows the administration to waive all legal requirements to construct the wall, construction is “not bound by environmental or cultural heritage protection laws, which has allowed them to plow through Native American communities with devastating effects,” Oliver said.
That’s without even mentioning the shady North Dakota firm that has been given more than $2 billion in federal contracts—whose head has appeared on Fox 10 times and linked up with We Build the Wall, the nonprofit whose founders were just indicted for corruption. “There’s nothing more emblematic of his presidency than this wall. It’s destructive, pointless, ineffective, racist, weak, and something the damages of which we’re going to have to be dealing with for a very long time,” said Oliver.