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.

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  1. The Republican plan to build a wall smells an awful lot like the Republican plan to cut spending, the Republican plan to shrink government, the Republican plan to repeal Obamacare and the Republican plan to blow a lot of gas on a hot-button campaign issue without ever actually doing anything to fix a problem that creates such a lucrative campaign issue.

    1. If they wanted to abandon the wall they could do so right now and avoid a shutdown.

      1. The Democrats would just push their other demands for more spending and hide behind the MSM when blame is given out.

      2. One of the things I love about the GOP is that they love them some shutdowns. They’ll do anything for a shutdown.

  2. 1. There are an awful lot of non-Mexicans also crossing the Southern Border
    2. The cost of the wall is less than that of doling out benefits, medical care, education, free school lunches, etc. for the illegals we have now.
    3. Israel was able to build a border barrier in the Sinai that stopped ALL illegal immigration.

    1. How about we stop doling out benefits and free school lunches to peoples with out papers?

      It’s like the guy complaining of headaces because he repeatedly hits himself over the head with a hammer. So he spends a thousand bucks on a fancy helmet so he can’t feel it any more. Instead of screaming about illegal hammers, just stop hitting yourself in the head with hammers.

      1. It will take a Constitutional Amendment to end free K-12 schooling for illegal kids.

        Prop 187 got blocked by a federal judge.

        I’d love to turn off the benefits spigot for illegals, but the establishment isn’t going to do it.

        1. Interesting that you refer to public education as ‘welfare’.
          In what other context is public education referred to as ‘welfare’?

          1. wel?fare
            noun: welfare
            the health, happiness, and fortunes of a person or group.
            “they don’t give a damn about the welfare of their families”
            synonyms: well-being, health, comfort, security, safety, protection, prosperity, success, fortune; More
            interest, good
            “the welfare of children”
            statutory procedure or social effort designed to promote the basic physical and material well-being of people in need.
            “the protection of rights to education, housing, and welfare”

          2. US Dept of Education:
            ED’s mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.

          3. Firstly, I pay almost 60% of my property taxes to the board of education and I am child free.

            Secondly, “The term “welfare state” refers to a collection of programs designed to assure economic security to all citizens by guaranteeing the fundamental necessities of life: food, shelter, medical care, protection in childhood, and support in old age.

            First, most concretely, for more than a century schools have been used as agents of the welfare state to deliver social services, such as nutrition and health. Today, in poor neighborhoods, they often provide hot breakfasts among other services.”
            education as welfare

            1. Assuming you ever collect old age benefits such as social security and medicare, those will be paid for 100% by other peoples children, since you are child free.

              1. I don’t have a social security number and will not be collecting social security nor medicare.

                You can opt out of social security just like Congressmen.

                1. The only way to “opt” out is to never have earned income.

                  1. shamrock|1.19.18 @ 3:22PM|#
                    The only way to “opt” out is to never have earned income.

                    No. The way to opt out is to receive a TIN and never get a social security number. Pay your taxes due on self-employed income but refuse any government welfare.

                    Another way is to apply for one of the lawful exemptions or be a member of Congress.

                    There is no crime for refusing social security welfare.

              2. Or by super intelligent androids.

            2. I am not necessarily saying describing public schools as ‘welfare’ is an incorrect characterization.

              I just find it interesting that, seemingly, the only time public schools are labeled as ‘welfare’ is when it comes to their utilization by illegal immigrants.

              You would be hard-pressed, I think, to find people berating your typical middle class couple sending their kids to public schools as “welfare moochers”.

              1. In the context of money for nothing, food stamps and general public assistance is generally considered welfare and probably the most despised.

                Public education provides a super expensive barely basic return to teach kids something.

                I would rather spend my money on any of it. I would rather donate some of my wealth to local superb private schools to give the kids in my area a good education. I will not do both.

                Furthermore, a good argument can be made that money spent on US education has actually hurt the USA by creating millions of little dimwitted brainwashed lefties. Even Shikha admitted that Americans are dumber than her fellow Indians.

        2. States can fund schools for illegals all day long [policy wise at least] – federal law however says those illegals can be deported. Last I checked, schools receive the bulk of funds on a per pupil basis. So it’s a no brainer: deport illegals, and watch the California budget all of a sudden return to a neutral position from being deep in the red. It’s a win/win.

      2. How about we stop doling out benefits and free school lunches to peoples with out papers?

        How about we do what we can to solve the problem rather than waiting for a solution that will never happen?

    2. 2. The cost of the wall is less than that of doling out benefits, medical care, education, free school lunches, etc. for the illegals we have now.

      Not even close to being true. Not once you figure in the *actual* (not the ‘Trump’ cost) of construction, eminent domain, and maintenance.

      You can make several arguments for building the wall – that it would be cheaper than the welfare we dole out already is not one of them.

      1. Wall vs. welfare… that’s a false argument, when you factor in chain migration and anchor babies. I’m guessing the wall pays for itself in less than 5 years if we factor in the number of welfare cases that didn’t happen because of it. The trouble is, how do you count something that doesn’t happen at all? It’s not the same as preventing welfare fraud, where definite persons attempted or engaged in certain actions.

  3. If building a wall won’t work, why did the Mexican government protest when it was first proposed?

    1. It will block the view.

    2. And why are people making a dangerous crossing in the deep desert supposedly because the routes closrr to civilization are.

      Apparently a wall is useless and effective at the same time.

      1. In the latter case its because *patrols* are effective. Walls that aren’t patrolled are pointless. And a wall that you can climb over, tunnel under, or just plain tear a hole in – which is all the designs, both proffered and actually used, so far then it doesn’t even hold them in place long enough for a patrol to get there.

        Honestly, want a wall? We’d be better off with a drone fleet and balloon lofted radar/IR cameras that can direct the patrols to locations of interest. But that would mean changing the CBP organization from the rabble it is now into a group of professionals that can handle technology. FFS, these guys can’t even be arsed to clean their service rifles – they’re never going to be able to handle a drone console.

  4. The Grand Old Party wants many changes to stop furhners from coming to the country


    the Great Wall of Trump.

    Started as the Great wall of Clinton.

  5. The border wall in San Diego works. Border crime, of all kinds plummeted after it was built.

    I thought “comprehensive immigration reform” was a good thing.

    1. And El Paso.

      If the wall were ineffective, Democrats and faux libertarians wouldn’t be so desperate to stop it.

      1. I always say look for the motive as to why lefties do things.

        If lefties are against something its probably good for Americans.

        1. Indeed.

        2. It’s all about votes and diluting white European culture for the lefties. Mostly about votes, though – 90% of illegal aliens will be lifelong Democrats once they are granted citizenship. Also, let’s not forget the enormous vote potential of chain migration.

  6. Forget it Jake, it’s Shikhatown.

  7. Does Mexico have a wall on their southern border?

    1. They have a much smaller southern border and a much less attractive country for immigrants. Guatemalans who cross illegally are not planning on settling in Mexico.

      1. So….shithole countries can do it but if USA does it it’s bad mmmkay?

        1. Not sure what point you’re trying to make.

          I was giving reasons why Mexico’s lack of a wall doesn’t imply that a wall is unnecessary.

      2. Mexico in general treats Guatemalans, Salvadorans, and Nicarauguans who enter their country illegally far worse than the US treats Mexicans for doing the same.

        Not to mention the local Mexican police are far more corrupt and violent than the US Border Patrol.

    2. no, there is no wall on the Mexican southern border.

      1. There is not a continuous wall on the Southern Mexican border but there is border protection including border guards, walls, checkpoints, and natural obstacles like rivers and mountains.

      2. Or at least nothing a trebuchet can’t fix: quietly lobbing drugs over Trumps wall on queue will become commonplace.

  8. The argument that illegals are “propping up” Social Security is so full of shit. First off, most illegals are working under the table, meaning that they aren’t contributing a dime to SS. The only exceptions are the ones that are committing identity theft by using someone else’s SSN.

    And of course those illegals are paid less than legal workers would be, meaning they contribute LESS to SS than a legal worker in the same job would.

    Furthermore, any legal worker under 45 is never going to see a penny from SS, so illegals are hardly unique in that regard. I’m paying way more into SS than any illegal does, and will never see a dime, so where’s the bowing and scraping for my “propping up Social Security” from the leftytarians?

  9. Fuck off, Dalmia. No one loves you.

    1. And no one ever could.

  10. What about a moat? Would a moat be acceptable?

    1. Filled with crocodiles and alligators?

      I can’t tell one from the other but as a general rule I avoid anything with that many teeth.

  11. “Erecting a hostile barrier between two friendly nations and people would be an abomination, of course.”

    Clinton erected hundreds of miles of border fences and walls. How is the Trump extension of the existing wall an abomination? It’s a marginal change on the status quo.

    1. Could it be that Clinton was an abomination also?

      1. Worse than this Abomination?

  12. The presumption should be, particularly from a libertarian perspective, that individuals have liberty to move about and live their lives as they see fit, and authorities should only have the legitimate power to stop people from exercising their liberty if they meet a very high burden. “Because they are the wrong color” or “Because they come from shithole countries” or “Because I just don’t like them” doesn’t cut it.

    Yes, if large numbers of immigrants, with foreign cultures, come from foreign countries, and they assimilate here, the net result will be a changing of American culture to a certain degree to be more like the foreign culture. But IF this occurs as the result of free people making free choices, why should libertarians stand in the way? We argue all the time that individuals exercising liberty sometimes leads to negative outcomes, particularly when it comes to things like drugs or prostitution. But the possibility of negative consequences is not enough of a justification to suppress the liberty of individuals. Why should immigration be treated any differently?

    1. First, we have a generous welfare state so indiscriminately letting anyone in to collect those benefits would be a death sentence (sort of like now). Second, just because as a libertarian I believe that citizens have a right to move about domestically with freedom doesn’t equate to crossing into another nation anytime that one pleases. For some reason, Reason writers don’t believe that sovereign nations have any right to set any immigration policy.

      1. Then why not attack the welfare state?

        1. Who knows man. Its certainly not racism or anything that has these people up in arms about a wall but generally apathetic about the people who take their money at gunpoint and give a small fraction of it to other people.

        2. Why not do both?

        3. when was the last time you saw an article from Reason actually attacking the size & scope of the welfare state? There is lots of reporting what others (Atlantic, NYT, etc) say uncritically but no real push back from the editorial staff.

          The illegal immigrant issue & the subset of the free shit brigade that enables just have a particularly stupid advocate in Dalmia.

      2. “First, we have a generous welfare state so indiscriminately letting anyone in to collect those benefits would be a death sentence (sort of like now). ”

        Letting anyone come in is not the same as granting them access to the welfare state. I agree broadly that the welfare state should not be accessible to non-citizens. So that’s not a reason.

        “Second, just because as a libertarian I believe that citizens have a right to move about domestically with freedom doesn’t equate to crossing into another nation anytime that one pleases.”

        Why not? Don’t all the same principles apply?

        “For some reason, Reason writers don’t believe that sovereign nations have any right to set any immigration policy.”

        This is a strawman, no one is arguing this position. I for one do not argue that there should be no immigration policy whatsoever. I do believe that the state can exercise power legitimately to prevent certain people from crossing international borders. But, the burden of proof should always be on the state to justify why it is infringing on someone’s free movement, the burden should not fall on the individual having to justify why he/she ought to be permitted to cross a border; and, that the burden of proof should be set very high.

        1. Sorry, Chemjeff, not true. It’s not the state’s burden to prove why you should not be allowed to cross the border – it is the individual’s burden to prove how their entry will benefit the country or, at least, how they will not be a burden or a safety threat. All sane countries operate on this principle – maybe you need to put down your NYT and stop watching MSNBC long enough to rationally think about issues.

    2. See, Libertarians are not anarchists. People cannot go and do whatever they want. Libertarians want those rules limited to do as little harm as possible. For American Libertarians, this would means as little harm to Americans.

      The USA was founded with its own sovereignty and the power to control who enters the USA and who becomes an American.

      1. “People cannot go and do whatever they want.”

        Umm, no. “People CAN go and do whatever they want” ought to be the default position on any issue, and it should be up to the state to justify why it believes it should have the authority to stop certain people from doing what they want. The difference between libertarianism and anarchism is that libertarians will believe that the state can occasionally exercise some authority justly, while anarchists say that the state can never exercise authority justly.

        1. Sorry but people doing whatever they want is not a Libertarian position.

          People doing as much as they want within the small limited government would be more like it. Then what we cannot do is written down so everyone is aware of the few rules agreed to by a majority representative body.

          Example being Americans can travel between the states without being stopped or seized unless the government agents has a warrant. Travel into the USA will be monitored by the government to enforce current immigration and naturalization law.

          But yeah, maximum freedom under the Rule of Law.

  13. the fact of the matter is that more Mexicans are leaving America rather than coming to it for entirely natural causes:

    That’s not a reason to not bother with a wall to the sort of people who want one – its a reason to build it 10 feet higher.

    Because this stuff is cyclic. Sure, there’s a net outflow now, but in a few years that’s likely to change. Build the wall now, let them drain out, and when our economy upticks enough (or the economies south downturn enough) and a whole new wave will be coming in – and facing that wall.

    Which will add a whole thirty minutes to their journey – but that’s a different argument.

  14. Oh, I don’t know. How about something that is proven over time and in nation after nation: entry points have basic police powers [with strong and quiet support], and the army has all points in between. How does that sound? Give ICE a 1/4 mile jurisdiction of either side of border crossings and be done with it.
    But while we are at it, how come only an illegal alien can be a “dreamer”? Are citizens not allowed the american dream anymore? What kind of banana republic logic arrives at imbuing lawbreakers with Disney-like monikers anyway? Are we going to be calling Ted Bundy or Charles Manson “community composting/green activists”? Such a level of wilful ignorance deserves a place in the DSM, as people seriously espousing such views are likely a danger to themselves and others.

    1. Didn’t you know that only illegal aliens can be “dreamers”? Moreover, American citizens wanting to protect their country’s sovereignty are officially known as “deplorables”.

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