The Great Wall of Texas

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The latest frontier in privatization is … the frontier itself:

If the government doesn't build security fencing along the Mexico border, Minuteman border watch leader Chris Simcox says he and his supporters will….Simcox said a half-dozen landowners along the Arizona-Mexico border have said they will allow fencing to be placed on their borderlands, and others in California, Texas and New Mexico have agreed to do so as well.

The Minutemen are border hawks, while I want America's immigration laws to be a lot looser. Nonetheless, I have to confess a sneaking sympathy for this latest project, and not just because it's so charmingly quixotic. Illegal immigrants sometimes do genuine damage to other people's possessions as they slip into the country: dropping garbage, setting fires, and cutting the somewhat flimsier fences that ranchers use to keep their livestock in line. The only full-fledged solution is to make it easier to enter the U.S. through normal means, so the migrants don't have to go looking for cracks in the border. But as long as the government is creating this incentive to trespass, I can hardly blame the victims for trying to defend their property.

I'm far from convinced, mind you, that this fence plan will work. But it's their money, so let 'em try it.

Jason Talley comments: "The private fence would [cost] between $125 and $150 a foot. I have an idea where they could get some inexpensive labor to install it."

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  1. Everybody knows where I stand on immigration, but I find no fault with people who put up a strong fence to protect their own private property from trespassers.

    I doubt that this will prevent anybody from finding employment on the private property of willing businesses, but if it keeps them from crossing somebody else’s property en route to those businesses, well, good enough.

  2. “There is another aspect of the immigration issue that has received little or no attention but can have a serious impact anyway. Amnesty would mean, for many illegal immigrants, that they would not merely have the same rights as American citizens, but special privileges as well.

    Affirmative action[sic] laws and policies already apply to some immigrants. Members of a multimillionaire Cuban family have already received government contracts set aside for minority businesses. During one period, an absolute majority of the money paid to construction companies in Washington, D.C., went to Portuguese businessmen under the same preferences.” – T. Sowell’s column of Apr 19, 2006.

  3. The illegals have been terrorizing ranchers for a few years now. For a long time, they polite and never really caused much trouble. Now they destroy fence, leave garbage, butcher cattle and eat them right on the land, walk into people’s houses and demand food or a ride to town. A few years ago west of San Antonio a couple illegals broke into a woman’s home. She lived in the country and was pregnant home alone with her two year old son. One of the illegals was crawling through one window while they other was trying to break in the door. The woman got a pistol and shot and killed the one crawling in the window. The one at the door, after hearing the shots decided that perhaps there were better places to break into. The local officials never charged the woman with anything. The Mexican government and “immigrant activists” had a fit. “It was all a misunderstanding. They were just looking for food.”

    I wish these guys luck.

  4. Since it is on the border, could you legaly hire Mexicans to do the work as long as they stay on the soutern side of the fence while working?

  5. In Arizon probably so. In Texas, probably not because they would have to cross the river to build the fence and the border is in the middle of the river.

  6. …The Mexican government and “immigrant activists” had a fit. “It was all a misunderstanding. They were just looking for food.”

    Oh, so its okay for them them break into someone’s house and help themselves to whatever they “need”. Why don’t they knock on the door and ask? I don’t think the language barrier is that big. “Nescessito comida, por favor”…I think they’d get it and then say “No.”

    Shoot ’em dead.

    Maybe this explains those mysterious cattle mutilations. You know, “aliens” and all that. *boo, hiss*

  7. Would electrified razor wire be going too far?

  8. Mr. F. le Mur,

    I like Thomas Sowell and I am against affirmative action, but I don’t think the existence of affirmative action is any reason to limit immigration, any more than the existence of the welfare state is.

    If the welfare state and affirmative action are immoral, they are immoral whether the beneficiary of them was born here or not. Also, it doesn’t make sense to punish people who may or may not benefit from such programs in the future. If you are against affirmative action, direct your ire against the politicians that pass the laws.

  9. I’m far from convinced, mind you, that this fence plan will work. But it’s their money, so let ’em try it.

    In the immediate sense it will work. Building a fence on the south side of a ranch will divert the road north around that ranch.

    However.

    We’re going to show the federal government how easy it is to build these security fences, how inexpensively they can be built when built by private people and free enterprise.

    If the government “learns” this lesson and constructs fence from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico the result is no longer diversion, but interdiction. Diverting illegal immigration around a small area only adds friction to the process. Stopping the flow results in an increase in pressure that will quickly rise to catastrophic levels.

  10. Diverting illegal immigration around a small area only adds friction to the process. Stopping the flow results in an increase in pressure that will quickly rise to catastrophic levels.

    That makes me think: why can’t we have tunstiles for them to walk through that are connected to electrical generators ?

  11. “Stopping the flow results in an increase in pressure that will quickly rise to catastrophic levels.”

    Catastrophic for whom? The coyotes?

    You force the flow to the natural barrier with the most resistance: the water. It is much harder to come by sea, that’s why we don’t have millions of Asians and Africans here.

  12. yeah, the sea really keeps out those Cubans and Haitians.

  13. We don’t have millions of Asians here?

  14. Joe,

    We don’t have 11 million illegal Asian aliens. Yes, the sea does keep the Cubans and Hatians out. A fraction of the number of hatians and Cubans get here every year as opposed to Mexicans and Central Americans.

  15. Let’s say Jesse Walker gets his wish and our immigration laws get “a lot looser”. And, let’s say 10,000,000 more workers come here legally or illegally as some form of “guest” worker or even on some citizenship track.

    What happens if they aren’t happy with their status? What if they want to be eligible for citizenship or want it quicker?

    Won’t they just march in our streets as we’ve seen other citizens of foreign countries do? Only under Jesse Walker’s plan there will be two or three times as many of them.

    What exactly is Jesse Walker’s plan to say “no” to millions of foreign citizens marching in our streets?

    If we had millions of foreign citizens marching in our streets, wouldn’t we almost be forced to capitulate to their demands?

    Isn’t Jesse Walker’s plan literally national suicide?


    Here’s Heather MacD0nald‘s take on the marches.

  16. “Stopping the flow results in an increase in pressure that will quickly rise to catastrophic levels.” I think the author intentionally or unintentionally hit upon a bigger issue. The U.S. has become a safety valve for poor Mexican economic decisions. For the past 70 years Mexico has created a society that stifles economic productivity and innovation and as a result, Mexico has remained a third world nation.

    Perhaps stopping the flow of illegals would finally prompt the Mexican government to enact the economic reforms necessary to grow their economy and keep the potential immigrants at home. This would be a boon to both nations, because it would cure Mexican poverty while increasing the market for U.S. goods.

    Regards

    Joe

  17. with all of this racist banter, it is no wonder that most of the international community (and many mexicans in mexico) hate americans. shameful!

  18. “with all of this racist banter, it is no wonder that most of the international community (and many mexicans in mexico) hate americans. shameful!”

    Yeah, especially when you consider that the Mexican government greets Central Americans trying to illegally cross the southern Mexican border with cool drinks and air conditioned limos.

  19. so america is no better, i guess? good to know.

  20. The Mexican oligarchy has NO incentive to change their behavior. Have you seen how much the politicians get paid there and how much kickback they get from the oligarchs?

    Waiting for Mexico to get better while we go bankrupt (California is already there) trying to soak up Mexico’s poverty is insanity.

  21. Mexican politicians continuously demand more visas for their citizens, an expanded guest-worker program, and “regularization” of illegal aliens living north of the Rio Grande. While neglecting to mention that the United States admits nearly one million legal newcomers each year, they also fail to publicize: (1) the extremely high salaries they receive, often in the case of federal and state legislators more than their counterparts in developed nations that have substantially longer annual sessions, (2) the generous stipends that they grant themselves, including year-end aguinaldos and end-of-term bonuses of tens of thousands of dollars known as bonos de marcha, and (3) the generous sums that party leaders in legislative bodies have to spend with few or any strings attached.

    For example,

    *

    President Vicente Fox ($236,693) makes more than the leaders of France ($95,658), the U.K. ($211,434), and Canada ($75,582).

    *

    Although they are in session only a few months a year, Mexican deputies take home at least $148,000 substantially more than their counterparts in France ($78,000), Germany ($105,000), and congressmen throughout Latin America.

    *

    At the end of the three-year term, Mexican deputies voted themselves a $28,000 “leaving-office bonus.”

    *

    Members of the 32 state legislatures ($60,632) earn on average twice the amount earned by U.S. state legislators ($28,261). The salaries and bonuses of the lawmakers in Baja California ($158,149), Guerrero ($129,630), and Guanajuato ($111,358) exceed the salaries of legislators in California ($110,880), the District of Columbia ($92,500), Michigan ($79,650), and New York ($79,500).

    *

    Members of the city council of Saltillo, San Luis Potos, not only received a salary of $52,778 in 2005, but they awarded themselves a $20,556 end-of-year bonus.

    *

    Average salaries (plus Christmas stipends known as aguinaldos) place the average compensation of Mexican state executives at $125,759, which exceeds by almost $10,000 the mean earnings of their U.S. counterparts ($115,778). On average, governors received aguinaldos of $14,346 in 2005 a year when 60 percent of Mexicans received no year-end bonuses.

    These same politicians turn a blind eye to the fact that, when petroleum earnings are excluded, Mexico collects taxes equivalent to 9.7 percent of GDP a figure on par with Haiti. In addition, the policy makers (1) spend painfully little on education and health-care programs crucial to spurring social mobility and job opportunities, (2) acquiesce in barriers to opening businesses in their country, and (3) profit from a level of corruption that would have made a Tammany Hall precinct captain blush with $11.2 billion flowing to lawmakers in 2004 alone.

    Many Mexican officials enjoy princely lifestyles, while expecting the United States to solve their social problems by allowing the border to serve as a safety-valve for job seekers.

  22. Maybe it’s the paranoid gun-nut in me, but is is really a good idea to build a massive wall along a border during a time when civil liberties are shrinking at an alarming rate? I mean, walls keep people *in* just as well as they hold them out.

  23. Shem, the catastrophe that would make Mexico look better than the US for a significant fraction of US citizens would have to be so colossal that a little thing like a wall won’t even signify.

  24. I guess they couldn’t sleep at night if they set out landmines. Too loud and the kids would miss the dog, don’t ya know.

  25. R C-

    I agree, we’d have to go a long way before fleeing south started to look attractive to a majority of Americans. But it is conceivable that we might reach a point where escape via Mexico (not the same as escape to Mexico) starts looking attractive to a small minority of Americans, people who find their names on lists.

    We’re not there yet, but it could happen. I think Shem is insightful to recognize that walls block traffic in two directions, not one.

  26. For the past 70 years Mexico has created a society that stifles economic productivity and innovation and as a result, Mexico has remained a third world nation.

    70 years? Try more like 200. Mexico hasn’t been able to get its shit together since it found itself independent of Spain.

    There are no small number of Mexicans who think they should take the whole American SW back. This is not a positive thing. This element is not just here for the jobs.

    The cost of building a wall (which I’m sure would be as beautiful as the Great Wall of China, and someday an equal tourist attraction) is staggering. But the idea that we ought to have some control over who crosses the border and when is not wrong.

  27. And btw, there’s no reason we should have a national language here, or make Mexicans learn English if they want to become citizens. No, we should all have the right to our very own language. Then we could spend all day trying to communicate.

    Economic productivity would sky rocket. That’s got to be why they keep trying to pass laws that allow public schools to teach in Spanish, so the poor illegal’s kids don’t have to bother learning English.

    Here in Arizona this is already a problem in some places. Good luck trying to get your house built, or any kind of work done on it, by somebody who actually speaks English. And the Mexicans get really pissed at you if you stop them from working because they aren’t doing what you want done. From there they won’t do anything well, because they doan like you no more omeego.

    If they fuck up something while building your house, you better fire them on the spot because it’s going to be down hill from there. I’m speaking from painful, expensive experience.

    The influx of “cheap unskilled labor” is far from all flowers and roses. There are parts of the city where I swear, they can’t go to the grocery store and home again without getting in a gun fight. And you better no look them in the eye when they’re in a bad mood. You know, it’s like the animal kingdom.

    No, I really can’t imagine why anybody would want to stem the flood of Mexicans just coming over the border, any number of them, any time they feel like it. It’s good for us don’t you know.

  28. In case it isn’t clear yet, I’m not an advocate of just throwing the borders open to Mexico. I know this is counter to the traditional libertarian line, but I think the rationale for immigrant quotas is something a few of The Great Republican Wall Builders sense, but don’t articulate so well.

    There really does come a point where the immigrant density gets so high that it starts eating at the fabric of our society. At this point we run the very real risk of loosing what we are, which is what made the immigrants want to come here in the first place.

    To make it clear I’ll take an extreme example from history. Why is it that nobody has really conquered China in the past 2500 years? The Mongols and Manchus didn’t really. They invaded, wiped out the existing decadent (and largely pacifist) Chinese monarchies, and then — they became Chinese for all practical purposes. It’s like the Borg, you will be assimilated.

    The Chinese population is so big that no invaders could even begin to dilute them. Which is why even the Manchus, in spite of themselves, basically became Chinese.

    The Roman Empire did not survive invasions the way the Chinese did, for the very opposite reason. The Roman population was never large enough to dilute the invaders.

    That’s why China has remained China for several thousand years, while Europe broke down into a bunch of separate nations.

    I think anyone who doesn’t sense this prospect with Mexico either hasn’t lived in the southwest, or hasn’t looked around much. The question “what are we going to do when they march in the streets with their demands?” is not idle. Especially given American sensibilities, it wouldn’t take all that many of them to weild some real power.

    OTOH, the cost of building the Great Wall of North America is not trivial, either. Nor do I expect it would be even approximately aesthetically pleasing.

    I don’t know what the solution to this problem is. But it is a problem, and just throwing the borders open to Mexico is wrong headed. Nor are we going to “fix” anything going on in Mexico. Mexico has been a broken wheel for 200 years.

    Even we liberatarians need to re-check our stock ideas once in a while. Controlling immigration from Europe and Asia is one thing because you can actually control the flow if you want. Who needs walls when you’ve got oceans. But Mexico is a very different kind of problem.

    The whole idea that it’s good to let all the immigrants in is predicated on the assumption that we are like the Chinese, or the Borg, and that they will be assimilated. But when it comes to Mexicans, there are significant parts of the US where I wouldn’t bet much that this assumptions is true.

    I for one am not interested in seeing part of the US turn into an Extended Play version of Mexico. So yes, it really does come down to us versus them.

  29. In case it isn’t clear yet, I’m not an advocate of just throwing the borders open to Mexico.

    No! I’m shocked, shocked! You seemed so undecided.

  30. RC-Thoreau said it better than I would have.

  31. Catastrophic for whom? The coyotes?

    For the fence. Unless you plan on spreading all our military forces along it and issuing plenty of extra ammo. That’s going to be real popular.

    You force the flow to the natural barrier with the most resistance: the water. It is much harder to come by sea, that’s why we don’t have millions of Asians and Africans here.

    There’s a bit of difference between boarding a ship crossing the Atlantic or Pacific and taking a rubber raft around the end of the fence.

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