Border wall

The Republican Plan to Build a Wall Is Fighting the Last War

It is a reactionary and obsolete plan.


The House passed a stop-gap government funding bill that has no provisions to legalize Dreamers (those who were

Border Wall
jonathan mcintosh on / CC BY

brought to this country without authorization as minors but have grown up as Americans) because it wants to use them as leverage for a sweeping nativist immigration reforms later. The Grand Old Party wants many changes to stop furhners from coming to the country but none is sillier than the Great Wall of Trump.

Erecting a hostile barrier between two friendly nations and people would be an abomination, of course. But it would also be a colossal waste of taxpayer dollars to fight the last war, I note in my column at The Week. Trump and his nativist cronies hysterical rants against "mass immigration" from the Southern border notwithstanding, the fact of the matter is that more Mexicans are leaving America rather than coming to it for entirely natural causes:

The couple of decades of high immigration from Mexico that America experienced were the result of a unique convergence of events. Mexico was undergoing a "demographic transition"—meaning that its infant mortality rates had fallen, thanks to advances in modern medicine, but its fertility rates hadn't because parents hadn't quite absorbed the fact that their children were more likely to survive, leading to a population explosion. Every modernizing country has gone through this phase. Meanwhile, the Mexican economy of the 1980s was in a freefall after a decade of government profligacy, and the American economy was taking off. Is it any wonder that America became a magnet for young Mexican men searching for jobs to feed their fast-growing families?

But this is no longer our reality. Mexico's birth rates have plummeted from 7.3 children per woman in the 1960s to 2.4 per woman now. That's just above replacement level. Mexico's economy, thanks to NAFTA (which Trump is hell-bent on destroying), has been growing at a nice clip, creating jobs at home. Mexico simply doesn't have the labor surplus anymore to send America's way.

This is nothing to celebrate. America's economy over the last several decades has been built on the backs of Hispanic migrants willing to work their tails off in jobs that Americans simply don't want to do. In a rational world, the president wouldn't be wasting taxpayer dollars on militarizing the southern border to repel peaceful workers from a friendly neighbor. He would be sending them invitation cards to come north and help him Make America Great Again.

Go here to read the whole thing.