MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Trump's Great Wall Will Be Costly and Useless and Mexico Won't Pay For It

You will, dear American taxpayers.

Border wallTony Webster via FoterAs expected, Donald Trump, the builder, is turning into a one-man wrecking machine demolishing the very things that have made America great: Trade and immigration. He kicked off day one of his presidency by scrapping the Trans Pacific Partnership, a pointless and stupid move that will subvert every single one his broader policy objectives, as I wrote here.

And now comes word that he is planning a series of executive orders that will do the same on immigration. News reports suggest that Trump is considering three orders this week pertaining to building the wall, suspending the refugee program and cracking down on sanctuary cities. Not only are all three foolish, but they are also fooling the American public.

Let's focus on the wall that Trump repeatedly billed during his campaign as essential to cutting illegal flows and regaining control of the border. As per CNN, Trump will direct the Department of Homeland Security to:

begin construction of the border wall, as well as take steps to repair existing areas of fencing along the frontier between the US and Mexico. The order will also include a mandate to increase staff at Customs and Border Protection by 5,000 and alleviate the flood of migrants fleeing violence in Central America. [That's just a start; Trump's ultimate goal is to triple the size of the border patrol from the current 20,000.]

According to the person familiar with the plans, Trump's executive order will require DHS to publicly detail what aid is currently directed to Mexico, an indication of an eventual move toward redirecting some of that money to fund the wall's construction—and giving cover for a longstanding campaign promise to have Mexico pay for the structure.

The good news here is that Trump has backed off from his original cockamamie idea of paying for the wall by confiscating the hard-earned remittances of Mexican workers in America—turning this great country literally into a kleptocracy of the likes that even the Third World hasn't seen.

But let me help Trump out with the fiscal math on his wall a bit: Just a single-layer fence—not a wall—on the 1,300 miles of the open Southern border will cost upwards of $6 billion—assuming, as per a CBO study, pedestrian fencing costs of $6.5 million per mile and vehicle fencing costs of $1.7 million per mile. A single Border Patrol agent costs about $171,400 annually. So tripling that force would add up to a whopping $7 billion or so more a year, according to the CBO. Annual maintenance costs would be hundreds of millions of dollars. In short, the total hit if cost projections don't balloon—a big if, assuming that Trump won't use illegal Mexican workers and will use only American steel—would be somewhere close to $15 billion upfront, give or take, of even a modest version of Trump's plan.

But as per Insidegov.com, the United States gave Mexico about $210 million in economic and military assistance in 2012. Much of the military assistance, mind you, is not to subsidize Mexico's own security bill but to wage America's destructive drug war. But even if all that money is channeled toward the wall, which it won't be given that Trump also talks about doubling down on the drug war to stop the flow of drug traffickers from Mexico, this aid will pay not even for the wall's annual maintenance cost.

But that's not the real shame. The real shame is that Trump is fighting the last war here.

According to Pew Research Center, net migration flows from Mexico have been negative since 2008. In other words, more Mexicans are leaving the country than entering. Indeed, unauthorized immigrants from Mexico aren't "pouring in," as Trump claims. They peaked at 6.9 million in 2007 and currently stand at 5.6 million. However, return migration of Mexican nationals and their children is now higher than migration of Mexicans heading to the U.S.

What's more, these immigrants are not criminals and are not disproportionately represented in federal and state prisons. To the contrary, they are less crime prone than the native population. Cities that have long been gateways for immigrants such as El Paso, San Antonio and San Diego have experienced a drop in violent crime rates.

And the 2010 Census data reveals that incarceration rates among the young, less-educated Mexican, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan men who make up the bulk of the unauthorized population is three times less than native born who lack a high-school diploma.

To be sure, the data on immigrant crime rates isn't not great, but to the extent that it exists, Politifact found:

In 2013, there were fewer than 100,000 noncitizens—legal and undocumented—in federal and state prisons. If you add in local jails, it's quite possible but uncertain that the total number of incarcerated illegal immigrants is above 100,000, though it's also possible that many of these individuals are held for immigration violations as opposed to other crimes.

If that figure is remotely correct, Trump is going to waste gobs of taxpayer money to make America less safe.

But what did you expect?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • John Titor||

  • straffinrun||

    Saw that the other day. Staving off revolution by exporting the dissatisfied. Sounds a bit like the Libertarian party and how the Republicans use it.

  • Zunalter||

    This.

  • Quixote||

    This article is highly inappropriate and unpresidented; I would remind Ms. Dalmia that her proper, and narrowly confined, duty as a news columnist is to inform the public of any alternative facts that our national leader chooses to promulgate in his important tweets. Soon, hopefully, we will begin to establish certain limitations with respect to the "expressive" capacities of those who do not understand how this works. Surely no one here would dare to defend the outrageous "First Amendment dissent" of a single, isolated judge in America's leading criminal "satire" case? See the documentation at:

    http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

  • Homple||

    I'd often thought of the "pressure relieve valve" idea myself but that guy presented it brilliantly. Who is he, anyway? I'd watch Reason TV presentations if he ran the operation.

  • GILMORE™||

    Who is he, anyway?

    he's an Arizonan who i think tried to have a career in radio but then switched to Youtube in ~2009, creating this Heavy Metal Intellectual persona mainly to do video game reviews in a hyperbolic/Dennis Miller on meth-binge style.

    He branched out into other sorts of media-analysis (my favorite being his 1980s action film movie-reviews), but generally stayed away from current affairs/politics until very recently. He may have occasionally touched upon political things in his vlogs (which i never really paid attention to), but after the trump election, he's done a series of political commentaries which i think surprised a lot of people *(he mentioned that he had prior ambitions in political-talk-radio and it shows). He identifies as libertarian, and aside from his border-comments i think he's probably 80/20 Cosmo/Yokel.

    worth subbing to even if you have no interest in videogames or heavy metal or anything else he 'reviews' (i dont), because the entertainment value of his commentary transcends the subject matter.

  • Homple||

    Thanks, Gilmore. I'll keep checking out his stuff.

  • R C Dean||

    He's entertaining and smart. Kind of the YouTube version of an H & R commenter.

  • Swiss Servator||

    Wait...wut?

  • sloopyinTEXAS||

    Yokeltarian views are not welcome here very often.

  • Hail Rataxes||

    LOL

  • John Titor||

    How many houses have cosmotarians built in Mexico anyway?

  • Free Society||

    A pretty solid argument. I'm more impressed that he can talk a mile a minute like that though, in one take.

  • GILMORE™||

    While i don't think his total-case is airtight, he makes some very very interesting and compelling points.

    the most significant of which is that "an open US border serves as an 'escape valve' for a very corrupt, very very poor mexico"

    He's absolutely right that there is absolutely no good reason that a mineral-wealthy, highly industrious country on the immediate border of the richest nation on earth should be so unbelievably goddamn poor and badly-run.

    And its something no one ever talks about or acknowledges. You can't reduce it to "drugs", although that's part of it. Mexico has a class-system, and people in the lowest classes are basically divided into 'the being screwed over' and 'the leaving the country ASAP'

    Where i think his argument breaks down is the idea that Mexico would organically transform itself if it didn't have the border escape-hatch for the most disenfranchised. I think there's *some* validity to it, but i think how that sort of thing would play out would be pretty ugly. And i would expect any Mexican revolution 2.0 to have an ending much like Far Cry 4 = no good-feeling outcomes.

    I think his best case is really that we should start looking realistically at Mexico and ask why the country is so fucked up to begin with. And i think the more you do that, the more you would acknowledge that they remain fucked up because the US prefers that to their being 'destabilized', which truly does them no favors.

  • John Titor||

    And i would expect any Mexican revolution 2.0 to have an ending much like Far Cry 4 = no good-feeling outcomes.

    He does somewhat address that in the comments when people talk about how a revolution would be a bloodbath. And his point is that the bloodbath is already happening, and will continue to happen regardless of if 'the revolution comes'. I would add in the context of a 'Mexican revolution 2.0' that you would at least hope that the initial attempts would come in the form of end of the Cold War era Eastern European 'protest revolts' backed by international support. If there's actually to be a bloody revolution, there is obviously a problem of 'meet the new boss, same as the old boss...or worse'. Mexicans overthrowing their system for a Marxist replacement is obviously not an improvement. It's a tricky line to walk, but I think he does present a good argument as to why illegal immigrant is encouraged by the Mexican government.

  • commodious rebrands||

    I think there's *some* validity to it, but i think how that sort of thing would play out would be pretty ugly

    Not to mention something like what we're seeing with Syria today, only on the US border.

  • GILMORE™||

    maybe not-quite 'syria'. i'm trying to think of a global-historical analogue and nothing springs to mind. maybe Bangladesh.

    i think the better-case would be something like "1990s Eastern Europe";

  • commodious rebrands||

    Fair point. Maybe a little overblown. Plus at least to go by some of the anecdotes trickling out of Mexico, those small town civilians seem capable of holding their own when they have a mind to. I'm just thinking of the war between the cartels and the Mexican government (but I repeat myself) exacerbated by a war between the Mexican government and its people. But I'm really out of my depth here.

    Still, my point stands: if the idea is to spark a revolution in Mexico, we're going to see a lot more pressure on the border and a refugee crisis to complement the economic migrant problem.

  • GILMORE™||

    if the idea is to spark a revolution in Mexico, we're going to see a lot more pressure on the border and a refugee crisis to complement the economic migrant problem.

    One of the very first points RF makes above is that most of the people who come to the US are *already* refugees.

    its not simply 'lack of economic opportunity'; its that Mexico has a highly-stratified, corrupt-as-shit system which basically ignores whole swaths of their population. Many mexicans choose to be *equally poor* in the US (and some actually abandon better economic positions in mexico), simply because of the violence and corruption.

    i don't think the idea was to 'spark a revolution' so much as simply force Mexico to deal with its own shit; that could be "full blown revolution", or it could be political reconciliation (a la the Orange Revolution/Euromaidan), or some blend of the 2.

    I think there is a reasonable case to be made that a "wall" (*as a metaphor for a 'strong-border' policy) could at least be a starting point in forcing mexico into domestic reforms that actually made them realize that their current status quo is unsustainable. Its an ugly gambit and certainly un-libertarian, but i'm not sure there are very many other options presented which would be expected to do more than simply perpetuate a very-bad situation.

  • Tundra||

    Regarding the (real) refugees in such a scenario - when I was a kid, there were a healthy number of Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees who arrived in Minne. Most, if I recall correctly, were sponsored by private groups - churches, etc. I think the willingness of people to sponsor Mexican refugees were there an actual revolution would be significant. I certainly would be willing.

  • Fuck You - Cut Spending||

    Drugs has nothing to do with it at all. Drugs are a symptom of Mexcio being a Marxist hellhole almost as bad as Cuba. The sad part is California elites look at Mexico as their economic model, Illinois too.

  • Eternal Blue Sky||

    "i would expect any Mexican revolution 2.0"

    Weren't there already at least two??

  • GILMORE™||

    meh. maybe. i don't think anyone's being too-fussed about mexican history pre-Porfírio Díaz

  • Swiss Servator||

    "Poor Mexico, so far from God, so close to the United States"

  • buybuydandavis||

    He's absolutely right that there is absolutely no good reason that a mineral-wealthy, highly industrious country on the immediate border of the richest nation on earth should be so unbelievably goddamn poor and badly-run.

    It's the magic dirt in Mexico. It's bad magic dirt. Makes bad things happen.

  • John||

    Even if you believe in open borders, unless you think that "open borders" means even criminals and terrorists should be able to come to the country (and last I looked open borders advocates swear that is not what they want), then how can you object to building a wall?

    If you think that it is too expensive and ineffective, fine. But you should offer another way to control entry into the country or admit you don't want to control entry at all. Moreover, if building a wall gives people piece of mind and a sense their views are being heard, it likely will make them more amenable to looser immigration laws.

    The open borders' advocates are in many ways the biggest enemies of open borders. By never yeilding on anything or ever agreeing to or offering any measures to control the border, they accomplish nothing but associating immigration with totally undefended borders and chaos. If the nativeists wanted to create a false flag operation to discredit immigration advocates, they could not do any better than what Reason actually writes on the subject.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    admit you don't want to control entry at all

    I could be wrong, but I think that's what "open borders" is supposed to mean

  • John||

    To some I think it does. But that is a position that is never going to be adopted. The public will never accept that no matter how pro immigration it is. That is a pretty self defeating position isn't it?

  • CampingInYourPark||

    That is a pretty self defeating position isn't it?

    I haven't seen any indication that it's a very popular idea, but I don't know if that makes it self defeating.

  • John||

    It is self defeating to take an extreme position that undermines your ability to obtain partial results.

  • Eternal Blue Sky||

    John, Trump's whole shtick is taking extreme positions so he can meet at the "middle" that he wanted to begin with. It's in the book he wrote. And it probably works because he's president.

  • Swiss Servator||

    It has worked so far....I am in wait and see mode with everything right now.

    Trust no one!

    /X-files

  • tarran||

    I think advocating for open borders is only self defeating when done cytotoxic style (i.e. denying that free migration has no negative consequences at all). It has both positive and negative consequences. Most of the negative consequences constitute Bastiat's "what is seen" and the positive consequences "what is unseen", and so when people deny the negative consequences, it comes across as reckless and ignorant at best and mendacious at worst.

    In my advocacy for them, I try to make people aware of that which is unseen. And that is not counterproductive. I don't mind losing an argument because someone considers my position and rejects it. I don't think it counterproductive, since it's better than making no argument at all.

    Freedom is in the aggregate beneficial to society. It is beneficial to more people than it harms. But some people are harmed, either by bad decisions they make, or when they are the victims of other people who misuse their freedom to commit crimes, or by changing circumstances (e.g. employers deciding to offer lower wages when given the opportunity of new entrants to the labor market willing to work less).

    And if we don't advocate for freedom, in the end, we cede the field to people who are peddling ideas that seem like the path to prosperity when in fact they set up obstacles to it. If we want to see it, we have to argue for it.

  • John||

    Reason adopts the Cytoxic style of advocacy. It is utterly counter productive. First, by denying reality it prevents them from having any credibility on the issue. Second, by being so extreme, it gives their opponents no reason to compromise. Open borders advocates are like gun grappers. Today's "common sense reform" is tomorrow's horrible unjust restriction that must be ended. There is no compromising with people like Dalmia because for her the issue will never be settled by anything short of complete surrender. So why compromise with such people at all?

  • Bill Dalasio||

    To be fair, I've often encountered some of the immigration skeptics even here advocating what can best be called "inverse-Cytoxic": the claim that there are no benefits to immigration.

  • Free Society||

    Who are the inverse-Cytotoxics? I've yet to come across commentarians saying that all immigration is always bad.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Honestly, I don't remember the name. I don't think it was a regular.

  • Hail Rataxes||

    True. Even the most anti-immigration commenters make an exception for mail-order brides.

  • RAHeinlein||

    Perhaps that "new" guy - bacon something or other?

  • bacon-magic||

    Not me, legal immigration is a good thing. Illegal immigration = bad.

  • Domestic Dissident||

    Their open borders policy sure didn't work out too well for the indigenous Native American people. You can ask them and almost all of them will tell you that. They should have probably considered building a big beautiful seawall or something.

  • John Titor||

    Native Americans is always a piss-poor example because it's entirely ignorant of actual history. Native groups regularly negotiated with settlers for land use (whether they were 'fair' deals is a separate issue, the most hilarious being when Manhattan was sold to the Dutch by a tribe specifically because they didn't 'own' it, their tribal rivals did) or actively attacked and attempted to force out early settlements. The most well known being the Pequot War between settlers and their native allies and the Pequot tribe attempting to expand their influence, but smaller conflicts were regular and common. Comparing modern open borders arguments to early colonial history is basically admitting you know nothing about it.

  • Free Society||

    Plus Old World disease depopulated vast swathes of the North American interior decades before the settlers themselves reached those areas. The history of European settlement in North American is not exactly One Big Trail of Tears that lefty historians have made it out to be.

  • Citizen X||

    I'd read that the Dutch were able to purchase Manhattan because the tribe they were negotiating with, along with several others, used it as a shared hunting ground, and none of them claimed ownership. The Indians thought that the Dutch were just buying in to hunt there as well. Even within tribes, decisions on how to interact with settlers were largely up to individual bands or even families, because most Indian societies were extremely decentralized and non-autocratic.

    But yes, "Entirely Ignorant" is the motto on Mike M.'s family's crest.

  • John Titor||

    I'd read that the Dutch were able to purchase Manhattan because the tribe they were negotiating with, along with several others, used it as a shared hunting ground, and none of them claimed ownership. The Indians thought that the Dutch were just buying in to hunt there as well.

    I've seen that account discussed as well, but I've seen counter-arguments relating to it being a projection of European 'noble savagery' onto the Lenape. Supposedly they had only recently expanded onto the island and has moderately hostile relations with the Weckquaesgeeks, the tribe that controlled the majority of it. They were apparently furious that the trade had occurred, while the Lenape chief was delighted that he got to screw over a tribal rival and get the opportunity to get some shiny European merchandise.

  • Citizen X||

    That's why i love reading history: there are all sorts of very human occurrences that shaped the world into what it is today, and most people have no idea about them.

    One of my favorites: French explorers were mapping the Midwest and had very friendly relations with a tribe in what's now Iowa. They asked who lived in the next valley. The chief, wanting a local monopoly on French trade goods, responded that the people who lived there were "shit-faces," implying that the explorers should avoid them. His word for shit-face sound a lot like French for "the monks," so that's what the French named the area: Des Moines.

  • Volren||

    Even if that were the case, sounds like they were happy making a profit their co-sharers didn't see to let the Dutch in, which would cost everybody who used the area.

  • John Titor||

    But that's my point, it was a negotiation based off of two political groups agreeing on a mutually beneficial trade, not an open borders position. The Dutch couldn't just stroll in and setup camp whenever and wherever they felt like it (and if they did they'd have to back it up with military arms if the locals weren't going to take it) 'cause open borders'. Projecting open borders arguments back onto native-European relations is at best anachronistic, at worst ignorant of the actual agreements and conflict that took place.

  • Inigo Montoya||

    See, it's people like you and the other historians who make this place awesome.

    Where else but Reason (and especially its commentariat) do you get nuanced, informative discussions and well-structured arguments?

    It's absolutely true that natives have long been regarded as some homogeneous group. First one to be feared and later as a group of noble peaceniks and pronto-environmentalists who were ruthlessly victimized. The truth, as usual, is always far more complex, and interesting, than meme-creators could ever fathom.

  • sloopyinTEXAS||

    The benefits to open immigration can only be measured when you abolish the welfare state.

    Until that happens again*, we are wasting out time.

    *pre-welfare state, it was a huge positive. But now, I'm not so sure it's not contributing to our system being overwhelmed.

  • Jake Stone||

    ^^THIS!!!!^^

    What is so damned hard to understand? Want open immigration? Get rid of the welfare state. The argument always is, "these are poor desperate people who just want to work and improve their lives". Fine then, so be it. If that's what they want, let them come here, let them work hard, let them struggle like the rest of us. As callous as it sounds, they aren't going to improve their position on my dime. I've got my own to worry about.

  • Domestic Dissident||

    Reason loves them some big welfare, especially to the lefty laundry list of special victim groups.

    Just over the weekend, Nick Gillespie said that he wanted to convert Social Security into "unlimited cash grants for the poor".

  • Free Society||

    Nick Gillespie is an unapologetic supporter of the welfare state. That's why he's considered a leather jacketed joke by Austrian and Mises Institute types.

  • Fuck You - Cut Spending||

    At some point you come to the conclusion that Postrel, Gillespie, et al - and maybe even the Koch Brothers themselves - are more interested in Kulturkampf than in actual free markets.

  • R C Dean||

    The answer always is "immigrants can't get welfare".

    The fact that this is demonstrably wrong never stops the pro-open borders people from saying it.

  • Diane Merriam||

    There's an adjective missing ... immigrants can't *legally* get (most types of) welfare.

  • John Titor||

    Are open borders libertarians really willing to die on the hill of "I'm fine with foreign criminals and terrorists coming into the country?" Hell, even most of the free state utopian projects explicitly say they won't allow people with criminal records in.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    I'm not an open border libertarian, but I suppose a rebuttal would be something akin to asking you in return whether you are okay with terrorists being able to use communications technology un-monitored.

  • lap83||

    Something something electrocuted by lightning

  • Episteme||

    Giant lightning towers on The Wall, which fire off huge static bolts to fry any who would try to approach it?

  • Jake Stone||

    Sounds suspiciously like Command & Conquer.... Weren't they called "Tesla Towers"?

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Shazam!

  • CampingInYourPark||

    Personally, I would be okay with open borders if there was no such thing as public property. As it is, I can't see how a nation's people have no right to determine who uses it.

  • Free Society||

    That's a very important distinction to make. For people to make the case that immigration is a natural right, is to say that there exists a natural right that owes it's existence to public property, i.e. stolen property or tax payer funded property. Natural rights precede government, they don't owe their very existence to it.

  • Dan S.||

    It wouldn't "owe its existence" to public property, but it wouldn't be nullified by the existence of such property either. Lots of people cross from New Jersey and Connecticut into New York every day, and they use facilities like Central Park that are paid for by New York taxpayers. No one suggests they shouldn't be able to. Many do wind up paying a "commuter tax" to New York (City and State). Likewise, people who immigrated to the U.S. in an "open borders" scenario would wind up paying U.S. taxes.

  • Fk Censorship||

    BS. In the EU, one can cross a border whether they have a criminal record or not. There is nobody to check. That's an example of open borders working to a certain degree (at least it hasn't led to the chaos protectionist alarmists are claiming it would have led to).

  • Thymirus||

    That's entirely dependent on whether restrictions on a given border are erected for economic reasons of the protectionist sort, or to prevent the ingress of undesirables.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Pretty sure it's lead to Britain removing itself from the EU.

  • ||

    That's what the WEEE and RoHS are for. SAC solders suck, IMHO.

  • ||

    RoHS was Philips's way of trying to kill the cottage industry electronics producers.

  • Homple||

    There is, of course, a border around the EU where one does get checked. Well, there was, anyway. Now the EU is running a full scale open borders experiment with results presented to a candid world in real time.

  • John Titor||

    It's telling that you screamed 'BS' despite not actually addressing what I said, which is that most open borders libertarians tend to still define some restrictions on movement.

    Yes, shockingly open borders between developed, stable countries works better than open borders between developed, stable countries and corrupt, poor kleptocracies.

  • Fk Censorship||

    John Titor, I am not disagreeing with you. The border between Canada and the US is pretty much open (or at least it was back in the day, before September 11th). The borders between US states are completely open, as are the Schengen space borders. What I am saying is that in certain cases it makes no sense to restrict movement - and the cost of stopping everyone to check their credentials outweighs the benefit of having a perfect set of humans cross that imaginary line. So there are instances when totally sensible people can be for total, open, unrestricted borders between two or more countries (or legal entities).

  • Free Society||

    In the EU, one can cross a border whether they have a criminal record or not. There is nobody to check. That's an example of open borders working to a certain degree

    I think after 2015 the EU's Schengen Area stopped being an example of why open borders are so damn wonderful.

  • Fk Censorship||

    Explain what wrong has come from the Schengen Area allowing free access to neighboring countries. If you are going to mention terrorism, I will bring up the fact that most terrorists were not originally from Schengen Area countries (or if they were, their parents weren't). Would you support closing the borders between US states?

  • Episteme||

    And inside the US, one can cross between sovereign states and tribal territories without a criminal check. The Schengen system simply acts as if European nations are federal units of a supranational unit. The comparison to American national borders is not an apt one.

  • Free Society||

    The Schengen system simply acts as if European nations are federal units of a supranational unit. The comparison to American national borders is not an apt one.

    Where border enforcement is left up the sovereign countries that actually sit on the EU borders as opposed to the EU itself. So EU immigration restrictions and border controls are only as effective as the least effective border country decides to be. Then you have Greece, that extorts countries like Germany into giving them money otherwise they'll unleash their foederatti against them. Comparisons aside, it's probably the worst example of open borders you could point to as a success story.

    Open borders between two countries like France and Germany makes sense, it increases prosperity and liberty for all involved. Start setting de facto open border policies between Northern Europe and North Africa, you'll see that Northern Europe loses on that deal. Open borders are not a guaranteed win-win, culture matters, economic wherewithal matters, the existence of a welfare state matters.

  • kbolino||

    States, yes. Tribal lands? I'm not so sure. While some reservations may allow free entry, I would be very surprised if none of the treaties established that the tribal authorities have some control over entry.

  • R C Dean||

    In the EU, one can cross a border whether they have a criminal record or not.

    How's that working out for them?

  • ||

    'Officially'? Or the unofficial truth?

  • Fuck You - Cut Spending||

    When you say "them" do you mean the individuals citizens or the bureaucrats?

  • burserker||

    go visit Paris and try to tell yourself that open borders are working

  • Fk Censorship||

    Last I checked, it wasn't a German anarchist who shot up Charlie Hebdo, nor was it a Bulgarian migrant worker who blew himself up outside a soccer (football) stadium, nor was it a wandering Dutchman who shot concert goers indiscriminately. It wasn't opening up the borders with the rest of Europe that caused this stuff and all the crime in France. The people who cause all these problems in Paris come from France's old colonies, for the most part, and I am pretty sure their ties to Paris have nothing to do with the "open borders" EU experiment.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Then support for open borders is effectively negligible. I think what most advocates even mean is check you for disease and criminal background and let you go on your way.

  • John||

    You can't do that without controlling the border.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    John, I'm effectively agreeing with you. Take a win when it's handed to you.

  • mtrueman||

    There's something you should know about the Mexican and I suppose American immigration officials. They are corruptible and can be bribed. The beautiful wall will stop nobody who is determined to enter.

  • Fk Censorship||

    Aren't most (or about half) of illegal immigrants in the US basically people who came on vacation (legally), and never left?

  • mtrueman||

    You'd be surprised at how many people enter any country on a tourist visa when they have no intention of engaging in 'tourism.'

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Moreover, if building a wall gives people piece of mind and a sense their views are being heard, it likely will make them more amenable to looser immigration laws.

    Honestly, I'm not sure this is wrong. Even if it is the boondoggle it promises to be, The Great Wall of Trump as the price of immigration reform might be worth paying.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Convince people that the border is more or less secure, and they'll be a lot more willing to increase legal immigration quotas. That's the theory, anyway.

  • commodious rebrands||

    Why are we even discussing border-length walls in an era of drone surveillance and other technical solutions? Maybe get some of the asshats interdicting vehicles a hundred miles from the border off land patrol and get them watching video feed instead.

  • Eternal Blue Sky||

    "then how can you object to building a wall? If you think that it is too expensive and ineffective, fine. But you should offer another way to control entry into the country"

    There ~IS~ no way. The US is too big of a country to accurately police its borders. If a criminal or terrorist wants in, they can get in. Easily.

    If you want to have mass secession, so that we have a bunch of smaller countries with more manageable borders, then we can talk. But for now a wall does ~nothing~ to stop criminals or terrorists. Unless you want to just control immigrants, the Wall is a gigantic, expensive, monument to futility.

    And no, I don't have to provide you with an alternative to make the observation of the Wall's uselessness valid.

    It's like saying you want stop all crime in the world by building a gigantic statue. I can argue that that is a stupid, expensive idea that won't actually stop all crime in the world. I don't have to offer an alternate solution to the idea in order to point out it is stupid, because there is no actual way to accomplish what the supposed goal of the stupid expensive project is. Our borders cannot realistically be secured from the elements you claim we need to stop. Too bad, we have to find a way to deal with that. We can't just build a wall and pretend like it's an effective way to keep terrorists and criminals to pass through a huge land and sea border.

  • Eternal Blue Sky||

    I'll propose an alternate solution when you can point to a terrorist attack and definitively argue for why a giant wall would have stopped it.

  • Free Society||

    There ~IS~ no way. The US is too big of a country to accurately police its borders. If a criminal or terrorist wants in, they can get in. Easily.

    If you want to have mass secession, so that we have a bunch of smaller countries with more manageable borders, then we can talk. But for now a wall does ~nothing~ to stop criminals or terrorists. Unless you want to just control immigrants, the Wall is a gigantic, expensive, monument to futility.

    Let's say there were five countries on the north side of the Rio Grande bordering Mexico, instead of one. Why would it be easier to secure those borders? Having more states doesn't change the topography, it doesn't change the distance from ocean to ocean, and it doesn't necessarily change the total population or the population density of the area on either side of the Mexican border(s).

    Don't get me wrong, I prefer small states to large states for many reasons. But I see no reason why 5 countries securing 5 borders is somehow possible when one country securing one border over the same territory and population is impossible. Lest I forget to mention that the border currently has 4 "states" situated on it, California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. So are you saying that Trump's proposed border plan would work if only it were implemented by the 4 border states?

  • Diane Merriam||

    Not counting Alaska, Hawaii and the US Territories, the US has about 12,000 miles of border/shoreline total. Of course that doesn't take into consideration formal international air transport or low level flights that radar can't see, or the coastline of the Great Lakes which is, of course, considerably longer than the formal straight line borders with Canada.

  • Adans smith||

    'No Irish!'

  • Diane Merriam||

    Oh, prarieshit. Everybody.

  • kinnath||

    Shorter Dalmia: 1) rejecting a treaty that was written in secret by one of most untrustworthy administrations in my lifetime is somehow anti-libertarian. 2) rejecting the notion that anyone should be allowed to walk across the desert into the US is somehow anti-libertarian.

    With friends like this, who needs enemies.

  • ||

    Shorter Dalmia

    That would be joe from lowell, for you old timers.

  • Tundra||

    Excellent. Gold star for you, young man!

    Oh, wait...

  • Swiss Servator||

    *narrows gaze*

  • kinnath||

    golf clap

  • DesigNate||

    Comedy gold!

  • John||

    It is pretty ironic to hear reason bitch and moan about Trump's cronyism and then turn around and support a crony pay off like TPP. Cronyism is okay as long as we call it "Free Trade" I guess.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Unfreedom is good when the ruling class benefits. Bad when the peasants benefit.

  • SIV||

    MAGA

  • SugarFree||

    Most Assholes Gape Abruptly

  • Citizen X||

    Technically, on a chicken, it's a cloaca.

  • Tundra||

  • ||

    ^I approve this message

  • Tundra||

    ... the very things that have made America great: Trade and immigration.

    Huh. I was under the impression that a constitutional philosophy based on individual liberty for all people had a smidge to do with it, as well.

  • John||

    That is a pretty revealing quote isn't it? At least she is honest about what she values.

  • Drake||

    Says it all.

  • Grand Moff Serious Man||

    Except trade and immigration are good things that have made America wealthy and prosperous. Obviously certain caveats apply but those aren't bad things to value if you actually value freedom and senseless jingoism.

  • John||

    They are not bad things. But they are not the only things that made the country great.

  • Tundra||

    Trade and immigration are groovy things that stem from the structure and the philosophy. They wouldn't exist without liberty.

  • ||

    ^Groov approved

  • Episteme||

    Trade and immigration only work properly under a rule of law and liberty schema such as the Enlightenment philosophies underpinning the American constitutional system. Otherwise, we devolve into either mercantilism or autarky on one side or anarchy or technocracy/aristocracy on the other. It's that notion of ordered liberty that defines the American Experiment and allows trade and immigration to operate properly.

  • straffinrun||

    Liberty only got me in trouble. Hence, ergo, therefore your liberty must be limited.

  • See Double You||

    I was under the impression that a constitutional philosophy based on individual liberty for all people had a smidge to do with it, as well.

    This.

    In fact, that's how I reacted to that Ken Burns documentary, The National Parks: America's Best Idea.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    I was under the impression that a constitutional philosophy based on individual liberty for all people had a smidge to do with it, as well.

    True. But, I think it's more than fair to say that trade and immigration is a pretty logical expression of the logical outcome of a constitutional philosophy based on individual liberty.

  • buybuydandavis||

    ... the very things that have made America great: Trade and immigration.

    For most of American history there were heavy restrictions on both trade and immigration.

    When your argument is premised on lies, it probably isn't very good.

  • Jerryskids||

    Trump was elected on a promise of kicking the shit out of a lot of people and now his supporters want to see some shit-kicking.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Wait, has he already backed off on fucking them all to death?

  • Fk Censorship||

    I 'member.

  • buybuydandavis||

  • Raven Nation||

    Aargh, come on Shikia, can we at least get through the first sentence without something silly?

    the very things that made America great. Definite article so no, just no. If you want to write some of the very things, I could live with that.

  • Rebel Scum||

    I don't expect the wall to ever come to fruition. It's too impractical and will turn into another financial boondoggle.

  • Raven Nation||

    I forget who wrote about this before the election but they made the point that journalists took Trump literally but not seriously while his supporters took him seriously but not literally. So, while the journalists were laughing at the impractical nature of the wall, his supporters understood him to mean he was serious about addressing the problem of illegal immigration even if there was not a literal wall.

  • SFC B||

    I first saw it by some writer at The Atlantic. I think she was repeating something she'd heard from a Trump supporter.

  • straffinrun||

    I expected him to build it for the sames reasons you mentioned.

  • chemjeff||

    It's Trump's version of Obama's stimulus, a vote-buying scheme.

  • Free Society||

    Obama's stimulus didn't buy him votes, it bought him donors.

  • ||

    The Melanin Messiah already had both votes and donors before The Stimulus and Stimulus II: Graftapalooza. The Stimuli were payment for services rendered, and, more importantly, goosing the Dow with predictability of near-interest free money for the Warriors of Wall Street.

  • Praveen R.||

    The fact that illegal immigrants have less percentage of criminals compared to the general population is irrelevant because we can't just deport citizens if they are criminals. Our citizens are our problems. There is no obligation to take in other nations problems.

    The wall itself is not a bad idea if they find sponsors for each section that is built!!. Or maybe have artists treat it like a piece of art and come up with some designs. A wall just for the sake of a wall is wasteful. But you just don't build a wall along the entire border. As if they can't dig tunnels or figure out ways around it.

  • Pussy-Grabber@SPCA||

    Logic error: Foreigners entering sovereign US territory without doing the visa dance, is a crime. 100% of illegal immigrants are criminals. Them's hard facts, amigo.

    Also, probably trespassing on a fair bit of private property along the way. Also the litering and shitting on Rancher Bob's lawn would probably be crimes too. Do they take any fruit or vegetables being grown? What about theft of materials, tools, etc from private properties?

    Seems like even illegal immigrants of the purest moral character are likely committing 2-3 distinct crimes just by walking across. That puts them squarely on the other side of the law, the rest is just arguing about the root causes of their motivation to commit the crimes in question.

  • Guy Montag||

    Yet another wonderful piece of fiction from the dreamers at Reason, it's getting almost comical how sadly off the mark the majority of writers for a once decent outlet have now gone full-retard.

    Now back to your regularly scheduled drivel on Johnson/Weld and the Libertarian Party gaining 5% of the vote!!

  • Domestic Dissident||

    You just know that Dipshit Dalmia was downtown on Saturday with her pink pussy hat on.

  • Fk Censorship||

    ^thread winner (or at least deserving of a podium spot)

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Donald Trump, the builder

    Can Trump fix it? Yes, he can!

  • Jerryskids||

    I don't know why Trump would bother building some huge expensive wall when he can just slap up 5 feet of chicken wire and claim it's a big beautiful wall and anybody who says otherwise is a big fat stupid failiar. (See there, Trump? I just saved you 50% on your tweeting about people being failures and liars by inventing the word "failiar". I better not catch you using that word without sending me a check, you thieving bastard.)

  • chemjeff||

    "I don't know why Trump would bother building some huge expensive wall when he can just slap up 5 feet of chicken wire and claim it's a big beautiful wall and anybody who says otherwise is a big fat stupid failiar. "

    Because it's going to be HIS WALL and his thin skin cannot tolerate anything with his name on it being anything less than gold plated and beautiful.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Just a single-layer fence – not a wall – on the 1,300 miles of the open Southern border will cost upwards of $6 billion -- assuming, as per a CBO study, pedestrian fencing costs of $6.5 million per mile and vehicle fencing costs of $1.7 million per mile. A single border patrol agent costs about $171,400 annually. So tripling that force would add up to a whopping $7 billion or so more a year, according to the CBO. Annual maintenance costs would be hundreds of millions of dollars. In short, the total hit if cost projections don't balloon – a big if, assuming that Trump won't use illegal Mexican workers and will use only American steel -- would be somewhere close to $15 billion upfront, give or take, of even a modest version of Trump's plan.

    Trump will use his business skills to make business deals, so the price will be nowhere near $15 billion.

  • DesigNate||

    $45 Billion?

    And $171,400 per agent? What the fuck!?!

  • chemjeff||

    That figure undoubtedly includes all the overhead costs associated with paying the agent (payroll, office space, etc.) I doubt they are earning a $171k salary.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    And $171,400 per agent? What the fuck!?!

    That does seem high, but salary, benefits, and training has to be close to that number.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    *have to be.

  • MikeP2||

    $171k per agent is a pretty typical number for most skilled employees. Salary, insurance, benefits, as well as overhead of office buildings, vehicles, equipment, etc.

    Most white collar employees run up around that and more.

  • DesigNate||

    I hadn't considered all the extras.

  • Grand Moff Serious Man||

    If by business skills you mean stiff the people he hired then yes, that is a possibility.

  • Radioactive||

    only 45 Billion?...chump change

  • sloopyinTEXAS||

    The most important takeaway is that our government pays $6.5 million per mile of pedestrian fence.

    Fencing doesn't cost anywhere close to that in the civilized private sector where there is actual competition and bullshit cost overruns and overpaying for materials and labor gets people fired.

    According to that, if you built a regular fence, barbed wired it and electrified it, you'd be looking at a total cost of $25 million for the whole fucking project. So let's say you have a reason to quadruple that cost due to electrification transmission. You're at $100 million. Which, with the government cost projections would get you about 15.38 miles due to idiocy like EPA regs, EEOC set asides, retarded ass requirements for contractors and limits on who can supply materials.

    If anything, libertarians should use this as an example of counterproductive government cost structures on things the private sector does much cheaper because they have to compete. But they completely miss it and say it's a waste of money because it won't keep people out.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Makes sense to me to immediately roll out some cheapo wire fence while we continue to build the Big Beautiful Wall.

    What Shikha doesn't get is that no one in favor of the wall cares if it is 50 billion.

    MIT Technology Review - Wall cost calculator
    Bad Math Props Up Trump's Border Wall

    Let's over engineer, I say.

    At 50 feet tall,
    with 14 feet below ground,
    a 1,989-mile wall could cost about
    $100.3 billion.

    Sold!

    We could make it 70 feet high for 17billion more. That will give us a couple of rounds of
    "And the wall just got 10 feet higher"

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Speaking of Trump Derangement Syndrome, some guy named Kaplan was just on my teevee, blathering hysterically about the existential threat Trump poses to the world.

    I wasn't really paying attention until he started talking about Theresa May, and how England has nothing to offer the US in terms of a special relationship, except NATO, but Trump is going to abolish NATO, so there you have it. The EU is where it's at, baby. Cut the Limeys loose, the fucking racist ingrates.

    He managed to accuse Trump of trying to start a war with the Chinese without actually referring to "teh NUKEWLUR CODEZ".

  • Zunalter||

    Does think progress have a channel on tv now? where did you hear this derp?

  • Volren||

    I thought they did and it was called CNN.

  • Thymirus||

    "The good news here is that Trump has backed off from his original cockamamie idea of paying for the wall by confiscating the hard-earned remittances of Mexican workers in America -- turning this great country literally into a kleptocracy of the likes that even the Third World hasn't seen."

    The degree of ignorance and asininity necessary for somebody to make such a statement in a serious debate is cataclysmic, and instantly marks the commentator as a complete historical ignoramus. This sort of inanity befits your retarded, incomprehensible worldview, but don't expect plaudits from anyone besides communists.

  • ||

    Isnt Modi currently seizing all of the gold and most of the cash in India as we speak? Isnt that Shikha's native country?

    Now, someone tell me again how TDS isnt a real thing.

  • Thymirus||

    Witless morons of Dalmia's ilk enjoy discussing subjects they haven't the slightest knowledge of. There are countless and substantial examples of kleptocratic delivry committed by thousands of governments throughout the world, past and present. All of our federal government's iniquities notwithstanding, our worst doesn't even faintly compare to the global average. There is no equivalence between the United States and the rest of the world.

    It really pisses me the fuck off when comfortable, harebrained Americans devolve into lamenting the oh-so-unbearable life they've been forced to live.

  • Rhywun||

    No, he's forcing conversion of higher bills to smaller bills. If he's "seizing gold" that's news to me.

  • Diane Merriam||

    Not gold. He's re-issued the currency of everything but the smallest of bills and the people have to trade them in at banks and anything over a certain amount has to be explained and tax forms checked or even trigger a formal tax audit. A large portion of the population doesn't use banks already or even have them easily available. There's also a large portion of the economy (much larger than ours) that is cash only and, of course, much of it never gets reported come tax time. So if you've got cash and you didn't already account for it with the government, you just ate it. The old bills are no longer legal tender.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Trump obviously hasn't cornered the market on hyperbole.

  • ||

    Short Peak Hyperbole, but go long on Peak Derp.

  • buybuydandavis||

    The degree of ignorance and asininity necessary for somebody to make such a statement in a serious debate is cataclysmic

    Hence the Tamarian idiom, "Shikha, when the walls fell!"

  • DesigNate||

    As expected, Donald Trump, the builder, is turning into a one-man wrecking machine demolishing the very things that have made America great: Trade and immigration. He kicked off day one of his presidency by scrapping the Trans Pacific Partnership, a pointless and stupid move that will subvert every single one his broader policy objectives, as I wrote here.

    Your other article was wrong too Shikha.

    I support free trade and I support (at the least) moderately open borders (I mean, unless you're going full anarchist, even a minarchist country is going to define their borders and defend them to an extent). Any deal that is full of retarded IP protectionism, done in secret, and contains god knows what is almost assuredly going to be anti-free trade by its very nature. Trump has a lot of stupid trade and protectionist ideas, getting rid of this larded up turd isn't one of them.

    As far as an actual physical wall, one only needs to consult history to see how well thousands of miles long walls actually work at keeping the Picts the Mongolians really anyone out.

  • Jerryskids||

    Any deal that is full of retarded IP protectionism, done in secret, and contains god knows what is almost assuredly going to be anti-free trade by its very nature. Trump has a lot of stupid trade and protectionist ideas, getting rid of this larded up turd isn't one of them.

    I can certainly see a libertarian making an argument for free trade that's actually free trade, but there are a heck of a lot of people cheering Trump's tearing up the TPP that aren't libertarian and aren't in favor of free trade. Including the Chinese. Which, if you recall from the campaign when the subject of the TPP first came up, Trump seemed to be under the impression that the TPP was a trade deal with China and China was eating our lunch on trade.

    So when Trump tore up the TPP, did he actually know what he was tearing up? Did he read the thing, did he understand that the TPP wasn't necessarily a free trade agreement but a trade coalition specifically designed to counter the growing threat from China to American interests re the eating of lunches? The trade deals made with China's competitors in the Far East and China building military installations on disputed islands in the South China Sea are not totally unrelated matters.

  • Jerryskids||

    The idea that Trump can make a better deal than Obama could with the TPP is predicated on the idea that Trump knows what "better" is. It's certainly possible that the concessions we made in the TPP made no sense from a free trade perspective or in terms of dollars and cents, but looked at as a bribe paid to get those countries to be friendlier to us and less friendly with China, maybe it made sense.

    Look at Duterte in the Phillipines making noises about how maybe he doesn't want to be BFF's with the US and maybe China's a better choice of friends. Is he saying that because he really believes it, or is he just suggesting that being friends is going to cost and right now China is offering a higher bid? And just how high is China willing to bid for friendly relations? Looking at how they operate, China is frequently willing to pay more for long-term advantages simply because they can afford to think long-term. They don't have to worry about what the voters are going to think come the next election.

  • Tundra||

    Duerte is full of shit. The Philippines are like a crazy country cousin of ours. They would make awful commies.

    He's negotiating.

  • Jerryskids||

    That may very well be true - Turkey made out pretty well during the Cold War by alternately threatening the US that they kinda had a crush on the Soviet Union and warning the Soviet Union that they were kinda sweet on the US.

    But my point is that however good a deal-maker Trump may be, making deals with the Pacific Rim countries involves dealing with the fact that China is our competitor and China's going to be doing their best to make counter-offers. Trade deals involve strengthening our relations with other countries and also weakening their relations with our competitors and our "relations" aren't necessarily just economic, they're strategic militarily. They're those "entangling foreign relations" we were warned about getting ourselves involved in that we just can't help ourselves from getting involved in because they're just so darn attractive.

  • Swiss Servator||

    Um, Turkey was in NATO - not sure the Sov's would buy "Hey, how you doin'" from the sons of Ataturk.

  • Pussy-Grabber@SPCA||

    For being neutral, you just torpedoed the shit out of Jerry.

  • Diane Merriam||

    Not just elections. Many of the asian cultures take in much longer time spans than we think in terms of here. Plans that don't come to fruition for decades or even longer aren't unusual.

  • DesigNate||

    Considering most of America has no idea what was in it, I'd bet good money Trump didn't either. But if the TPP wasn't a free trade agreement and more of a trade coalition (don't we already have trade agreements with these other countries? do we really need another level of agreement? genuinely asking as I have no idea.) then maybe it should be sold as such, especially by the journalist that choose to cover the topic.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    ps- I think the "wall" is a dumb, impractical idea. I think stealing people's hard earned money merely because they want to support their families in foreign lands is immoral on the most fundamental level.

  • Fk Censorship||

    Let me fix it for you: "I think stealing people's hard earned money [...] is immoral on the most fundamental level."

  • chemjeff||

    Yeah, not hopeful about what Trump will do on this front.

  • Radioactive||

    we should get the contractor who's building Barry O's wall to bid on this...

  • DesigNate||

    That wall is different. It helps keep out all the crazy criminal rednecks with guns.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Whoa! Turns out The Wall was supposed to block off godless Canada, to keep "our" females from going--or worse, emigrating--to where there are no abortion prohibitions whatsoever. Hell, they could even have Satanic individual rights! Mexico is cool by conservative standards. Their puppet governments roll out the red carpet for the DEA, CIA, FATF, AML, TF, CFT, DNFBP, IRS-CID, INL, ICRG, GIABA, GAFISUD, FSRB, FIU, FinCEN, EAG, DARE, PIAB, OFBCI, DEA, NSA and Wizened Christian Temperance Union. If any girl there refuses to bear her uncle's child, they clap her in irons, force her to squeeze out "life" and have the Inquisition sentence her to ten billion Hail Mary's while kneeling on corn. Mexico is as religiously conservative as Saudi Arabia. Plus, when the Go-Pee congress brings back conscription, we'll need that Wall to keep cannon fodder from leaking over to where all those fertile libertarian women are accumulating.

  • Rhywun||

    cracking down on sanctuary cities

    Who cares about "rule of law", right?

  • sloopyinTEXAS||

    This. This fucking burns me up. The majority of the writers here openly support arbitrary and capricious enforcement of duly passed and plainly written laws without using the process in place for overturning or abolishing those laws.

    I'd take them seriously if they could point me to one historical example where that really worked out well for a society.

  • ||

    Pot legalization.

  • sloopyinTEXAS||

    You think that's working out for the people being prosecuted in Utah by the Feds for the same actions they're not prosecuting in Washington? Or is it working well for the people in Washington dispensaries that are being prosecuted under federal law differently than those dispensaries in Colorado?

    Selective and arbitrary enforcement is never, ever a good thing. Because rule of man is never, ever a good thing.

  • sloopyinTEXAS||

    And "pot legalization" means laws are changed and possession, cultivation, etc of that item is no longer prosecuted. What we have isn't pot legalization at a federal level. What we have is the federal government ignoring some federal laws some of the time when they feel like it. People in states where it is legal are still subject to federal laws at the whim of a prosecutor they offend. The law's mere existence and its infrequent use in some states coupled with its vigorous use in others is a very bad thing for proponents of rule of law.

  • Jgalt1975||

    You do realize that the legal authority by which "sanctuary cities" decline to enforce federal immigration law is the exact same legal authority (New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144 (1992) and Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898 (1997)) by which various states, counties, cities, etc. have declined to enforce federal gun control laws and a bunch of other things that you probably cheered on, right?

  • Rhywun||

    I doubt you can know what I've cheered on or not, but like Sloopy said above, selective enforcement of laws is Not OK.

  • ||

    It seems that these kinds of declarations are foolish. Whether the wall gets built or not if Trump successfully addresses our perceived immigration problems you end up with egg on your face. There seems to be a lot of that around these days and yet they just keep doing it.

  • Zunalter||

    And in today's episode of "Virtue Signalling" ...

  • MikeP2||

    Another day, another article highlighting Ms. Dalmia's lack of understanding. Yeh, Reason.

    1) All reputable organization state that illegal immigration rates are still positive. There are more coming in than being deported. Perhaps the total Mex amount of illegals is flat/declining, but Mexicans are only a fraction of the total that make the southern border crossing.
    2) Border patrol reports over 350,000 crossings in 2015 and they apprehended roughly half. They also report around 250,000 deportations. How much did that cost the US taxpayer???

    3) and lastly, the wall is a symbol. It is not intended to be much more than that. Trump's immigration stance appeals to the large fraction of the populace that want the government to step up and do their job. Immigration control is a core function of the Feds, and they have utterly abdicated that responsibility. Building a wall is a symbol of action. that symbol will quell concerns across the country and don't be surprised if we see openings for sensible immigration reform. If you have a 'wall'....well then, there is far less resistance to amnesty.

  • buybuydandavis||

    the wall is a symbol

    A big, beautiful symbol.

    It's going to be yuge!

  • SugarFree||

    Poor Lonewacko... He didn't stick around to watch this place turn into him.

  • Citizen X||

    My ThoughtsandPrayers are WithHim.

  • ||

    24ahead.com is ranked #5,490,667 in the world according to the three-month Alexa traffic rankings. The site was founded 8 years ago. 24ahead.com has the potential to earn $78 USD in advertisement revenue per year. If the site was up for sale, it would be worth approximately $546 USD.

    24ahead.com is rated 1.0 out of 5.0 by StuffGate.

    He's busy managing his own Island: Population 1...

  • SugarFree||

    If the site was up for sale, it would be worth approximately $546 USD.

    Extremely over-valued.

  • Swiss Servator||

    Uganda Soiled Ducats,maybe.

  • Karen24||

    He liked to comment at the Washington Monthly Political Animal blog when Kevin Drum was writing for them. I didn't follow Drum to Mother Jones so I don't know if LW now inhabits their comment section or not.

  • SugarFree||

    Poor little guy.

  • Citizen X||

    Drum or LoneWacko?

  • SugarFree||

    Yes.

  • Karen24||

    Will the people who build it get to stay on this side when it's done?

  • straffinrun||

    Clowns to the left of me, FATCA to the right.

  • ||

    FATCA to the right

    *knods knowingly and angrily*

  • ||

    Get to? Walls that keep people out can keep people in too.

  • Karen24||

    There is that point.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Though the implication is that it would be built with illegal immigrant labor.

  • Jerryskids||

    My concern has always been that walls have two sides. A wall to keep them out also serves as a wall to keep us in. What happens when I decide I'd rather be in Mexico? We already know what Trump thinks about my deciding I'd rather be in Mexico if I decide I'd like to take my factory with me, don't we?

  • sloopyinTEXAS||

    If you decided you'd rather be there and went to Mexico without proper documentation, you'd be subject to criminal prosecution, conviction and two years in prison on your first attempt. Subsequent attempts after deportation would result in 10 year sentences. And if youmoverstayed your visa, you'd be looking at six years on the first violation.

    And any Mexican that helped you would be subject to criminal prosecution.

    So think twice before you consider "just going" to Mexico. They take illegal immigration seriously there!

  • sloopyinTEXAS||

    FTA (emphasis mine): Under the Mexican law, illegal immigration is a felony, punishable by up to two years in prison. Immigrants who are deported and attempt to re-enter can be imprisoned for 10 years. Visa violators can be sentenced to six-year terms. Mexicans who help illegal immigrants are considered criminals.
    The law also says Mexico can deport foreigners who are deemed detrimental to "economic or national interests," violate Mexican law, are not "physically or mentally healthy" or lack the "necessary funds for their sustenance" and for their dependents.

    Wow, it almost sounds like they want to make sure people won't overwhelm their social services and won't try to destroy their system and replace it with something else.

  • DesigNate||

    Shouldn't we be the shining example on the hill instead of following 2nd world places like Mexico's lead?

  • Rhywun||

    We could start by dismantling our crippling mountains of free shit.

  • DesigNate||

    Hear Hear!

  • Fuck You - Cut Spending||

    Yes we should.

    Step 1: Dismantle our welfare state.

  • sloopyinTEXAS||

    We should...by dismantling our welfare state and opening up our labor markets.

  • SFC B||

    Much like abortion, progressives would lose their minds if the US changed their laws to match much of the rest of the world.

  • Praveen R.||

    I highly doubt Mexico will prevent you from entering Mexico. And I say this as someone who feels a wall is a waste of money. Though I don't mind some barriers at some places if it makes sense from a value perspective.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I'm an open borders with Canada and Mexico guy, which means I think we should have a treaty with Canada and Mexico that allows Mexican citizens to move back and forth across the border freely so long as they can present reliable identification that shows 1) they aren't convicted felons and 2) they've been inoculated against certain diseases.

    That solution isn't necessarily incompatible with a wall. Allowing innocent job seekers to cross our borders at will means keeping the others out. If people looking for work were free to move back and forth across the border, the only people sneaking through the desert at night would be the bad guys--drug cartels, potential terrorists, et. al., and we would still need an effective way to keep those bad people out.

  • R C Dean||

    That solution isn't necessarily incompatible with a wall.

    Any time you have any restrictions on immigration, you have to have a way to enforce them by stopping people who don't pass the restrictions. A wall is consistent with everything short of wide open borders. Whether its a good idea on net is a different question, of course.

  • Ken Shultz||

    +1

  • ||

    2) they've been inoculated against and possess documented proof they are neither carrying or displaying S/S of certain contagious diseases.

    FTFY

  • R C Dean||

    The whole "wall won't work" thing has a bit of a hill to climb - where we have built a wall, crossings have dropped. Many(?) may have just been pushed past the wall, into the desert in CA and AZ.

    As with everything in this world, its not perfectly effective , but if you think reducing illegal immigration is a good idea, then a wall is likely to make an incremental improvement. Is the increment worth the cost? That should be the debate, not pretending that if a single illegal comes over the southern border the entire wall is a complete failure.

    Mexico won't pay for it? How exactly is Mexico going to stop a US remittance tax?

  • Ken Shultz||

    There's the remittance tax, there's suspending U.S. aid to Mexico (I calculated about $400 million), and there is the possibility of Trump making Mexico's contribution contingent on the U.S. continued participation in NAFTA.

    If Trump opens NAFTA to renegotiation, it might be worth it to Mexico for them to cough up some cash for the wall.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Also, people go back and forth arguing 1) that the wall is a bad idea because it will be ineffective and 2) that the effects of the wall will be devastating.

    I'm sensitive to the suggestion that the wall will be a big waste of money.

    The Berlin Wall, the "peace walls" in Northern Ireland (Ulster), and the walls Israel built in the west bank, I think all of those examples were thought to effective.

    I remain sensitive to the suggestion that the effect they have will be undesirable or cost too much.

  • Radioactive||

    not to mention all the Chinese variations...

  • The Late P Brooks||

    What happens when I decide I'd rather be in Mexico?

    You're free to leave, but the exit visa, taxes and fees are really going to take a bite out of your bank account.

  • ||

    but the exit visa, taxes and fees are really going to take a bite out of your bank account

    The first one isn't that bad, honestly. The second and third, depending on where you are going, what you do, and the competency of your expy atty, can be mitigated quite nicely if one plans their finances and their holding accounts prudently.

  • Fuck You - Cut Spending||

    So in other words the rich will still be able to move about freely, the rest not so much.

  • ||

    Kinda like now, and been that way for quite a while, actually. "Freely," has never meant, "Without cost."

  • Ken Shultz||

    Also, the Trump administration announced plans to exclude people coming here from countries with terrorism warnings, and they announced that they were going to suspend the current refugee program.

    I support both as a matter of security.

    Certainly, there are things we can do for refugees that don't necessitate resettling them in the United States. Just because I call an ambulance for a homeless guy who's bleeding to death doesn't mean I have to take him home to live with me once he gets out of the hospital.

  • Thymirus||

    Bleeding hearts tend to forget that we have no obligations to the world's destitute.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I'm not sure we have no ethical obligation, like I said, just because I'm a libertarian doesn't mean I won't call an ambulance for a homeless man who's bleeding to death.

    However, if government has any legitimate purpose at all, it is to protect our rights, and the legitimate purpose of our foreign policy, then, would be to protect our rights from foreign threats.

    To whatever extent refugees represent a threat to our rights, our refugee policy should account for that. Like I said, just because you call an ambulance for a homeless man that's bleeding to death doesn't mean you have to take him home when he gets out of the hospital and let him share a bedroom with your daughter.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Yeah, the problem with the good samaritan scenario is not knowing whether the guy bleeding on the side of the road is a guy who got his ass kicked by robbers, or a robber who got his ass kicked by his intended victims.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Some terrorists may be posing as victims just to get us to take them in, and if there is no reliable way to tell friend from foe--when we know there are foes out there--then the government shouldn't bring them here to live among us.

    The State Department keeps a list of travel warning countries where Americans shouldn't go "at all" because the area is rife with anti-American terrorism.

    "We issue a Travel Warning when we want you to consider very carefully whether you should go to a country at all."

    https://travel.state.gov/content/ passports/en/alertswarnings.html

    If Americans shouldn't travel to those countries because they're rife with anti-American terrorism, that might be an excellent indication that bringing refugees from those areas to live here among us Americans is something that shouldn't be considered "at all".

    There are other ways we can help these people that don't involve bringing them home to live with us.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Good point. Also, once someone does get in and is convicted of felony possession of a marijuana seed or something equally heinous, they can ask for asylum and stay in this madhouse if the sand-berserker dictatorship they hail from likes to stone people to death or has public square beheadings as a show of zero tolerance and respect for law and order. Not many judges will believe a deportable alien will be tortured, beheaded or stoned to death for not wearing a klan-hood in, say, Canada

  • R C Dean||

    Not only security. I believe the refugee program comes with built-in spending on "refugees".

  • KevinP||

    A wall or fence doesn't have to stop 100% of border crossers to be effective. Israel implemented an effective border fence that has diminished its suicide bomber infiltration to almost zero. Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I.....ectiveness

    It is difficult to smuggle human beings compared to drugs, guns or other contraband. They require food, water, air to breathe, have to relieve themselves periodically, can't be kept in hidden compartments for days on end, weigh 130 lbs or more and take up a lot of space.

    If we can reduce the 500,00 illegal border crossers by 95% to (say) 25,000 per year, then the illegal immigration problem is greatly reduced. At that point, the public will be willing to be more generous with the illegals already in the country, especially if criminal aliens are deported.

  • SFC B||

    There's also the possibility that "Build the wall!" might actually lead to immigration opponents being willing to make a good faith effort at other reforms. If you're anti-illegal immigration, or even just anti-immigration, the past couple decades have been terrible for you. No one in government in a position to do so has done anything to advance your position. This actually advances your position. Future immigration reform can go "We built the wall, it reduced illegal immigration by X. We still have Y illegal immigrants in the country, let us pass This Law and allow Z% of Y to remain."

  • buybuydandavis||

    There's also the possibility that "Build the wall!" might actually lead to immigration opponents being willing to make a good faith effort at other reforms.

    Amnesty first, wall second was tried.

    Fool me once,...

    I'm not for amnesty regardless, but I'd go for actual reform. US controls sets the terms of who the immigrants are. If they're good for Americans, they can come.

  • KevinP||

    There are many ways in which illegals get taxpayer support. As just one example, every illegal alien's child is entitled to a public school education (even if the child is also illegal) and the average cost of this education is $10,500 per year (2012 figures). An illegal alien's child enrolled in first grade will cost the taxpayer $126,000 to graduate from high school.


    So, if you prevent about 120,000 children of illegal aliens from being brought across the border, the $15 billion dollar wall has paid for itself.

  • Hank Phillips||

    The Wall was "the fence" in the political platform published by God's Own Prohibitionists. Drumpf was simply voted by their kkkonstituency to ram it down our throats at gunpoint. In fact everything the candidate said--except the part about grabbing pussy--was in the Republican platform. Continued asset forfeiture, war against the killer weed, bombing disarmed children in Aleppo and shooting them in the back in Salt Lake City, Seneca, Ferguson, wherever... all of that is in the Go-Pee platform, along with countless other goodies. There is even a snatch abt the IRS (which they vow to preserve and protect) picking on poor little libertarians. All of these things are also in the Democratic party platform too. The only difference is they were for letting women have individual rights.

  • Rhywun||

    You shouldn't have taken that left turn at Albuquerque.

  • GILMORE™||

    You aren't related to Mike, by any chance?

  • Tituspullo||

    Well we also spent $6 billion on demonstrably uselesss school grants. Building a useless wall is unlikely to be worse. At least it will employ some people for a while (and not just give more money to educrats)

  • Fuck You - Cut Spending||

    Can't we just stop the stupid War On Drugs first and see what happens? It would end a ton of the "aid" obfuscation where we're actively supporting a Marxist state by pretending it's about teh drugz. How much "illegal" border crossing ends once those crossings don't need to be made anymore?

  • da journo||

    depressing

  • 2whlrider||

    Mexico could offer to build the wall out of the many US dams that deny water to northern Mexico and that have decimated agriculture in the region.

  • buybuydandavis||

    It's always better to be upstage, upstream, and upwind.

  • AZ Gunowner||

    "Illegal" immigration wasn't very good for Kate Steinle was it?

    And I've read not a few reports of nearly identical situations - an illegal immigrant whose been deported multiple times finally gets arrested for murder or some other pretty serious crime.

    Whether or not a wall will stop those multiple re-entry's by illegals may be a subject of debate.

    What is not is that Trump has never suggested that LEGAL immigration be curtailed.

  • SamHell||

    Just the psychological effect of knowing about a famous yuge wall across the border will deter a great many from even trying. So even if it doesn't work it still works.

  • Dan At Law||

    The wall is a stupid idea and what proves it is the fact that Mexicans would pay for it in a minute...just not the Mexican government. The Mexican drug cartel would be glad to pay for it. They would eliminate all their little competitors.

  • ||

    Mexico will pay for the wall if they want to continue to receive our foreign aid.

  • Praveen R.||

    You come to a website called reason with that idiotic piece of logic? If Mexico is pressured into giving the US money, it is not because of the wall. Which means, that is money that we theoretically can use for any purpose. If Mexico gives us money saying it can only be earmarked for the wall, then that is mexico paying for hte wall. If Mexico gives us money because we threaten them with some other trade boycott, that is money we can use for anything. So that is essentially our money that is getting earmarked for the wall by Trump. That is money that can be used to build a bridge somewhere. Or fix some roads.

  • NorEastern||

    It is just another obstacle to tunnel underneath or climb over. No big deal.

  • mrbill802||

    So says the germ about the antibiotic. But we still use antibiotics. Wonder why.

  • Praveen R.||

    I am actually in favor of tighter controls on illegal immigrants and feel the Democrats pander too much to the Latino demographics with respect to illegal immigration. Having said that, come on . Anyone with a brain knows that Mexico wont pay for this wall, even indirectly. What does indirectly paying mean? Let's say Trump funnels some concessions he gets in some deal with MExico and uses that to fund the wall. Does that mean Mexico paid for the wall?? hell no. That is Trump fooling those of you so enraptured by the concept of a wall that you don't apply elementary reasoning to the concept of someone else paying for this wall. Would Trump be able to get those same hypothetical concessions if a wall wasn't being built? Probably yes. So why waste that money on the wall? That money you get via savings or a trade bargain is really not contingent on the wall being built. That is money you can use for any expense you choose to. Hell, you can build a yellow brick road somewhere in Kansas, if you want to.

  • Widhalm19||

    Mexico's economy would implode with out trade from the Untied States. Most likely, the Trump's Wall will be paid for with Mexican export taxes. So, yes, indirectly Mexico will pay for the wall, yet, Americans may pay higher prices for goods made in Mexico (or not if those items become too expensive to purchase).

  • Praveen R.||

    Once you get that money from Mexico, that is money that can be spent on anything for American interests. So that becomes our money once we get that money from Mexico because it is irrelevant what we do with that money from Mexico's point of view. So in a way, we could actually funnel money from any deal or tax with goods from any country in the world and say that country paid for our wall. It doesn't have to be mexico. Unless, Mexico is forced to give us money for the wall and nothing else, that is not Mexico paying for the wall. It's like cities that funnel some extra surcharge that already exists on car rentals to a cause and claim that the cause is self funded by the taxes versus the city passing some bill where they collect taxes for the very purpose of funding that cause(like voters voting on some bill to pay an extra two cents tax to fund some transportation initiative).

  • Widhalm19||

    The author skirts the facts in typical contemporary leftist fashion. Of course the United States was built with immigration and trade .... legal immigration and fair trade that is. A nation that cannot secure it's borders will not last long. Learn your world history Shikha (and start with India). As far as trade goes, the United States should practice open but fair trade policies. That's why Trump scrapped the TPP. Trump's border wall is more symbolic that deterrent.

  • Widhalm19||

    The author skirts the facts in typical contemporary leftist fashion. Of course the United States was built with immigration and trade .... legal immigration and fair trade that is. A nation that cannot secure it's borders will not last long. Learn your world history Shikha (and start with India). As far as trade goes, the United States should practice open but fair trade policies. That's why Trump scrapped the TPP. Trump's border wall is more symbolic that deterrent.

  • mrbill802||

    The Wall is a great place to start, for symbolic as well as practical reasons. It will not be the only tool in the toolbox, but it is a start, and a great statement of our intention to protect our home. DId you know that if you report your car stolen, the police will ask you if it was locked? If it was not locked, they will not take you seriously. Same here. We need to be taken seriously.

  • MoreFreedom||

    Dalmia is right that we'll be paying for the wall - and it looks like an import tax on items imported from Mexico. And it will be ineffective since most illegals arrive on a plane, and any wall can be breached via a number of means. But Trump's spending on enforcement will result in more deportations and less illegal immigration. While Dalmia is right about most illegals being otherwise law abiding, there are still criminals among them.

    What Trump does on trade will matter more to the economy, but deporting more people will reduce the GDP. Still, we'll have to see what he gets accomplished as much of what he wants will require help from Congress. And I think the GOP RINOs are happy to give him the rope (the border adjustment tax, and wasteful spending) to harm the economy and his chances at re-election.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online