Trump's Plan to Force Mexico to Lock In its Own People

The President's effort to coerce Mexico into blocking the emigration of its own people undermines the distinction between keeping people out and locking them in. It thereby makes US immigration policy analogous to the Berlin Wall.


The Berlin Wall.

When critics of President Trump's plan to build a wall on the Mexican border analogize it to the Berlin Wall, immigration restrictionists indignantly respond that there is a crucial difference between keeping migrants out and locking people in. The former is the supposed sovereign right of any nation, while the latter is a human rights violation only oppressive totalitarian regimes would resort to. Anyone who defends Trump's new plan to use tariffs to force Mexico to restrict the emigration of its citizens to the United States can no longer rely on that distinction.

The whole point of the plan is precisely to force Mexico to lock in its own people. Trump economic adviser Peter Navarro, for example, emphasizes that the goal is to force Mexico to "help us" stop the "export, one of their high exports, of illegal aliens." At least in the short run, the only way Mexico can give us the needed "help" is by restricting the movement of its people.

Defenders of Trump's action could argue that there is a distinction between locking people in completely and "merely" preventing them from leaving for a specific destination (such as the US). But surely we would still condemn the Berlin Wall if the East German government had said its purpose was to block its citizens from moving to the West, but they were still free to leave for other communist nations. As a practical matter, moreover, the US border is Mexico's longest and most significant land boundary, by far, and blocking exit rights through that border is a major restriction on Mexicans' ability to go anywhere by land.

Another possible distinction between the two cases is that East Germans were locked into a far more oppressive regime than Mexicans would be. But Mexico's corrupt and often deeply unjust government is far from wonderful, and being confined there would force many potential migrants to endure what may well be a lifetime of poverty and exposure to violence. Moreover, the right to exit is not limited only to citizens of the most oppressive regimes. If Canada or the United States were to block their citizens from leaving, that would surely be a gross violation of human rights, even though Canada and the US are substantially freer and wealthier societies than Mexico. Forcibly confining people to the US or Canada is less unjust than confining them to Mexico. But it would be a grave injustice nonetheless.

Some of the people Trump wants to force Mexico to lock in are not Mexican citizens, but Central American refugees. But, if anything, Mexico has even less right to prevent other nations' citizens from leaving than its own. Moreover, Trump's policy makes no distinction between Mexican migrants and non-Mexicans.

Blocking the right to emigrate is a violation of international law. Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (to which both Mexico and the US are signatories),  mandates that "[e]veryone has the right to leave any country." Much more importantly, locking people in is a violation of fundamental human rights, even aside from any treaty. We readily recognize that in the case of the Berlin Wall. The same goes for Trump's attempt to force Mexico to block the emigration of its own people and Central American refugees.

The distinction between locking in and keeping migrants out is not nearly as robust as many like to think. Economist Bryan Caplan effectively explains why most of the arguments against the former also apply to the latter. The distinction also often relies on the flawed analogy between governments' power to exclude migrants and the rights of private homeowners to keep trespassers off their land (I criticized that analogy here) (incorrect link fixed).

But those who believe that the difference between "keeping out" and "locking in" is an important moral distinction that differentiates US immigration restrictions from the Berlin Wall should oppose Trump's plan to coerce Mexico. There are, of course, many other good reasons to oppose it. But the ways in which it makes our policy analogous to the Berlin Wall should be high on the list.

UPDATE: I have corrected the previously inaccurate link to my post critiquing the oft-made analogy between governments' supposed right to exclude migrants, and private homeowners' rights to exclude trespassers from their houses. I apologize for the mistake.

NEXT: The Supreme Court Should Take the Love Terminal Takings Case

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 or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Somin continues to plumb new depths of absurdity on this subject.

    1. Agreed. It’s bizarre and absurd. Every country on the planet has the right to set it’s own immigration policies. Check out Japan’s draconian laws regarding immigration. I don’t hear Somin blaming the Japanese for wanting to Japan Japanese.

      1. Your comment is bizarre and absurd. Do you think Somin’s omission of Japan has something to do with his tacit approval of Japanese immigration policy? Nobody doubts that countries have the “right” to set their own immigration policies. That’s what we’re debating. East Germany was a country, too. So was Russia. So is China. Confront the argument.

        1. Countries have a right to set their own immigration policies. They don’t have a right to set their own emigration policies. That said, there is nothing particularly atrocious about the US pressuring Mexico to prevent the emigration to the US of people that the US has chosen not to admit. It’s terrible policy, but it’s not an atrocity. It’s not comparable to the Berlin Wall.

          And that’s largely the problem with TDS. We can’t debate whether Trump’s terrible immigration policies are good for the country (they’re not), we have to talk about whether or not they are crimes against humanity (they’re not). We can’t talk about why we let people from shithole countries come to the US (lots of good reasons), we have to swoon over the fact that Trump said Haiti was a shithole (it is.). Etc.

          1. “… there is nothing particularly atrocious about the US pressuring Mexico to prevent the emigration to the US of people that the US has chosen not to admit.”

            I think your premise is wrong. It is not at all clear that the US “has chosen not to admit” millions of Mexicans. Congress has certainly passed laws nominally preventing their entry, but decades of insufficient funding, looking away, etc. suggests that Congress is not serious about preventing the immigration.

            But back to the Japan point. Nobody doubts that Japan has a right to prevent immigrants from entering Japan. So does the US. The issue is whether or not it’s a good idea.

            “We can’t debate whether Trump’s terrible immigration policies…”

            People debate them all the time? What do you mean?

            “…we have to talk about whether or not they are crimes against humanity…”

            Are you saying people shouldn’t be able to debate whether they are crimes against humanity? (I agree they aren’t, but what is your point?)

            “We can’t talk about why we let people from shithole countries…”

            I talk about it all the time?

          2. Are we adopting ‘shithole countries’ as a term of art in our immigration conversations now?

      2. Only white countries are told that they have no right to remain white and must allow themselves to be replaced by foreigners. No one demands that of India, China, Japan or Nigeria. Anti-racist is code for anti-white.

        1. “China, you have no right to remain white.”

    2. In fact we all know that the net flow of Mexicans into America is negative. However the flow of Central Americans is unsustainable high. Let Prof. Somin pay for them.

      1. Open wider, clingers. Your betters have more progress to shove down your bigoted throats.

        After more than a half-century of American progress shaped against the wishes and efforts of right-wingers, you should be used to it by now.

      2. “we all know that the net flow of Mexicans into America is negative”

        We actually don’t know that. Its all based on studies from the “non paritsan” research arm of the left wing Pew Charitable Trust.

        There is no accurate count of those who successful evade immigration controls, its just estimates from a biased source.

        1. Keep it down. If there is no accurate count of those who successfully evade immigration controls, how will you convince anybody that there’s a crisis?

          1. Just like voter fraud. Block every attempt to ferret out fraud, and then claim that there is no evidence of fraud! Brilliant!

    3. Indeed.

      The majority of the illegals are from points south of Mexico….and are not eligible for residence under Mexican laws.

      Nor is Mexico enforcing their own laws: In fact they are hiring transportation to get the invaders through Mexico to the US Border.

      That is not what a friend, or neighbor would do….it is an act of war (abetting the invaders) and Mexico should think long and hard over their risk/reward.

      1. In fact they are hiring transportation to get the invaders through Mexico to the US Border.

        That sounds plausible to me, but I didn’t know it. How do you know it? Presumably “they” means some Mexican agency with policy power. Can you cite some official information, or is this just more made-up stuff against Soros?

        1. There have been news photos and video of the invaders getting on chartered buses for the trip – the story claimed the Mexican government hired the buses, to get the invaders out of the concentrations on their southern border, or the Federal District of Mexico City….so they go to the US frontier.

          Mexico doesn’t want these people – because while most of them are just economic refugees, some are stone-cold criminals and will commit crimes on Mexican citizens as well as their own people.

          That is aiding the invasion…

          1. First, invasion is stupid.

            Second, what country is charged with keeping it’s own people in?

            Third, why is no one talking about the employers? Seems a telling omission. Almost as though the real goal is having an enemy, not solving a problem.

            1. Oh, I agree: Employers should be held responsible for hiring illegals. The US Chamber of Commerce is not a friend of America.

              As far as keeping it’s own people in, that’s not the issue: Mexico is responsible for keeping illegals OUT of Mexico….not shipping them the length of Mexico to the US. So, they are aiding in the invasion of the US by these other than Mexicans.

              1. Trying to force a country to change it’s internal policies via a plan of tariffs is going to be quite a lift.

      2. There is no “human right” to invade the U.S. when you feel like it. People in central America have the option of going SOUTH to that bastion of socialist utopia, Venezuela. Why don’t they take that option instead of “walking” thousands of miles to the U.S.

        1. Pretty sure “invasion” implies a lot of people with a joint motive, plus a target population upon which to impose the invaders’ mutual plan of attack. Not easy to see how that applies to, “Please sir, I am here to seek asylum for myself and my children.”

          1. Well, it ain’t all of them… But the Reconquista movement is a real deal legitimate thing. Google it if you’re not familiar. They’re basically winning that war too…

            1. But the Reconquista movement is a real deal legitimate thing. Google it if you’re not familiar. They’re basically winning that war too.

              Oh, vek.
              Reconquista is a fringy movement the right has seized upon to validate their own paranoia.

              And your positing that Mexico is ‘winning’ some ‘war’ against the US shows you’re in quite deep.

              1. Hey moron… I grew up in California. I’m part Mexican myself.

                The entirety of California, the southwest, and Texas have essentially been overrun by foreigners, almost all of whom came here illegally. The reconquista people are getting their way, whether or not most illegals are into it. One thing I will tell you is that MANY Mexicans will loudly say that they’ve “taken back” those parts of the USA that they lost. They aren’t members of the official movement, but DO share some sense of pride in having overrun those areas and taking them from the evil Anglos. I’ve heard numerous Mexicans say this with my own ears when I was growing up in Cali, and their takeover wasn’t nearly as complete back then.

                It’s just reality man. You clearly don’t live in the real world. Out there normal people see and deal with this shit. As a white prog leaning moron you like to think everybody thinks like you… What you don’t realize is that the Hispanics ARE thinking as a racial block. Straight the fuck up. And the implications of that are problematic.

          2. “Invasion” is illegally entering any place where you’re not welcome

        2. They are also walking past numerous American consulates where they could apply for asylum. But they would rather set foot on American soil, knowing they will never be refused or sent back.
          They are gaming our system.

    4. Trump is complaining NOT about Mexican citizens trying to emigrate, but about Mexico offering safe passage through Mexico to thousands of Central Americans for the sole purpose of letting them illegally enter the United States.

    5. This is not an absurd argument. It is moronic.

      In any other age it would be an embarrassment to the author.

  2. I wasn’t aware that Guatemalans, Hondurans, and Salvadorans were Mexico’s own people. Do all latinos look alike to Prof. Somin?

    1. It’s more that all Americans don’t matter. Your hopes for your children’s future don’t matter. Your future can burn in a fire if that fire warms a migrant for one night.

      1. My hopes for my descendants’ future are founded on education, effort, skill, liberty, and good fortune, not on unearned privilege, bigotry, superstition, authoritarianism, and stale thinking.

    2. He doesn’t care where they’re from, as long as 100 IQ whites are replaced with 85 IQ mestizos.

      1. Seems like it’s mostly 60 IQ whites worried about this.

        1. Actually it’s more the 85 IQ whites and blacks… Because they’re the ones getting directly fucked. They’re the ones competing on jobs, the ones whose neighborhoods are being flooded. Etc.

          Upper middle class whites that are insulated from having to deal with the direct repercussions in their day to day life, other than reaping the advantages of a cheap nanny and lawn guy, don’t care… YET. But the sheer numbers are becoming so large in many areas even yuppies are noticing the changes in their cities and not feeling too comfortable with it.

          I grew up in California, and watched that place slowly turn into a shithole… It’s still just getting progressively worse. I’m not entirely sure how, but apparently allowing in millions of people who don’t speak the language, with an average of 8th grade education, SOMEHOW doesn’t increase the quality of life or prosperity of an area! Who woulda thunk?

          1. “…allowing in millions of people who don’t speak the language…”

            Do you think Texas is turning into a shithole too?

            1. Yes. Texas will flip by 2028 due to the influx of all of the low IQ Hispanics.

            2. Yes it is.

              My current state is going to hell… And I REALLY want to move to Texas for a lot of reasons. Mainly the old school Texas “vibe.” The problem is that Texas is being destroyed rapidly. Give it another few years and it will be a left leaning state, where the prosperous native born whites can no longer support the gives of the immigrants… And will fall apart too.

              California was pretty decent still even when I was a kid, let alone when my father, grand father, or great grand father grew up there. It’s collapsing because there aren’t enough educated middle class + people to support the welfare class.

  3. Your reasoning here is so lame you should look into getting a wheel chair.

    We are discussing ILLEGAL border crossings. So long as a state permits legal exit to other states without serious impediment, it is not “locking its’ people in”, just because it doesn’t facilitate the violation of neighboring states’ immigration laws.

    That wall in East Germany? Wouldn’t have meant a thing as long as East Germany was handing out exit visas to anybody who asked, and letting people exit with them.

    Further, to a large extent we are discussing illegal border crossings which didn’t even originate in Mexico; Mexico is facilitating travel through its territory for the purpose of illegally entering the US. Allowing people to enter Mexico for the express purpose of traveling to, and illegally entering, the US. Refusing to aid this cross-Mexico travel wouldn’t be “locking” anybody in.

    1. Comparing Trump’s tariff plan with the Berlin Wall is utterly absurd.

    2. Actually, one of the reasons why the Wall, and with it the East German regime, collapsed was that the East Germans didallow its citizens to go on holiday to Czechoslovakia. Whence they were allowed to go to Hungary. Whence they were able to get to Austria, the Hungarians having dismantled their bit of the Iron Curtain.

    3. You beat me to the point. Mexicans retain the right to come here by following our laws, and we are not asking Mexico to alter that. The same applies to El Salvadorans, Guatemalans, etc.

      1. But not our laws on asylum, right Pettifogger? You don’t want them to follow those laws, do you?

        1. No, we do. Which means we want the people who unsuccessfully claim asylum (most of them) to be swiftly removed after. And the only way to ensure that is to detain them (whether they have children or not) until their hearing. If they don’t like it, too bad.

        2. First off, by international law they should be applying for asylum in Mexico, NOT here… But even if we want to let them slide, they could do it without illegally crossing into the USA, as all the paperwork can be filed without coming here. Since they’re almost all bogus requests, we would then not have 90% of them here in the first place, and the 10% that might have something remotely resembling a legit excuse could come in without being a problem.

          1. A suspicious sudden caring about international law.

            1. I care about all kinds of laws, treaties, norms, etc. The fact is that the left is willing to completely ignore this shit when it suits them though. So much of the time that’s where I’m at nowadays too. I WISH everybody played by “the rules” all the time… But if one side is willing to break them, the other side must do so as well, or be crushed by a cheating opponent.

              In this instance I tend to think the law is reasonable too, which helps. Retarded laws are hard to fight for, see the drug war. But this one is reasonable… Yet progs are ALL ABOUT ignoring long established international law here.

              I’m okay with having some framework for asylum seekers. I would be willing to take in people with legit concerns. Say wrong thinkers who the Communist Chinese government is after. But asylum laws were never meant to be used for any old economic migrant. Just because our average income is 5x or 20x what you make in your native land, that doesn’t give you a right at demand asylum here. Anybody with a brain can see the distinction.

          2. No one cares about international law other than to screw over the US. When international law is on the a side of the US, it is declared meaningless. See Sarcastr0 post if you still have any illusions about anyone caring about following laws.

            1. So you are proud of your inconsistency, but then accuse me of being the inconsistent one?

              You’re even inconsistent about how you feel regarding inconsistency!

              1. Consistency is for rational, good faith discussions among well-meaning individuals.

                This is a discussion about how a 5% tariff is the new Berlin Wall — completely irrational.

                Good faith has been gone from US government for at least 30 years.

                And one of the 2 political parties doesn’t even pretend to be well-meaning any more. They only talk about revenge and punishing their enemies, never about helping anyone. Even when they say they care about “victims”, it’s not to help, it’s to add to the pile of justifications for revenge — the more victims the more revenge.

                1. No, this is a discussion about asylum law. Wherein you threw in an appeal to international law.

                  When I questioned your sincerity, your response was ‘yeah, I don’t really care. I wallow in bad faith because I believe the other side does.’

                  And then you launch into a rant about how self-evidently evil the left is. Which is right outta crazytown. As a liberal, I can tell you we don’t sit around contemplating revenge. You may not like our methods or even our goals, but we have a vision for America. As do many on the right, as well.

                  You, on the other hand, seem to no longer care about consistency or ideology and only want to own the libs. Be better.

                  1. The left may be well intended… But the inevitable outcome of their policies and style of thinking (emotional) is destruction and misery. Some of the top men on the left know this, but fools like you don’t get it.

                    Anyway, as I said above I believe in fair play. If you agree to a fist fight, have a fist fight. If the other guy busts out a knife… You should whip out your Colt 1911 and blow their brains out, because they’re a cheating piece of shit, and deserve to be taken out. The left fights dirty, and I’m intelligent enough to realize you can’t win a fight with a cheater by playing by the rules. Given the stakes in this game, namely freedom for all the people in this country, if not the world, there is no reason to let the left stomp all over the sane people anymore.

  4. My, goodness. Where to start?
    The policy is to require people to comply with legal restrictions on emigration. You know, the law, both in Mexico and in America. Are you so anti-Trump that you are anti-law?
    Did the French have the right to try to stop the Germans from “emigrating” to France in 1940? Is the presence of tanks dispositive of this distinction? If so, please explain why?

    1. Somin is completely irrational when it comes to Trump. Very serious TDS here.

      1. This has little to do with TDS. Somin was a hard line open boarders advocate long before Trump.

  5. If you travel from the US into Canada or Mexico, you are expected to show some respect for their sovereignty, whether tourist or immigrant. What’s with this idea that the American border with Mexico should be open to illegal aliens?

  6. Do open border libertarians really have no better argument then this? Guess not….

  7. This and similar posts by Ilya presumes and presupposes that the only countries who have border security and regulations are tinpot despots or remnants of the Cold War. The EU discarded all semblance of border security between member nations and they have paid a price. Border security by default for all EU countries is the lowest common denominator country’s security.

    It is a fact that asylum seekers could /should seek asylum in the first country they reach that would/could provide safety. That is not the current situation. Today, mothers are renting their children for $140 per border crossing for people to fraudulently cross the border asserting family and Central American persecution. There are legitimate asylum seekers but, there is a greater percentage of improper immigrant traffic that is gaming the system and ginned up for political theater. Who do you think is funding the caravans? The people in the caravan? Nobody is that naive.

    1. Today, mothers are renting their children for $140 per border crossing for people to fraudulently cross the border asserting family and Central American persecution.

      So that’s the free market price, is it? Does it fluctuate? Is there a futures market? Where did you get your quote, floridalegal?

      1. An Associated Press news report that was on the radio. I believe it was Thursday or Friday AM commute.

      2. There’s this:

        DNA tests reveal 30% of suspected fraudulent migrant families were unrelated.

        Granted, this was a pilot program, and not a representative sample.

        1. So your link, Brett, is to right-wing media, quoting an anonymous source talking about a study? A study from an unnamed source, administered under mysteriously undescribed circumstances.

          There was zero detail about how study victims (choosing the word to match the intent) were recruited as subjects, but apparently they were singled out as “suspicious” before being subjected to DNA testing—so the 30% figure is worthless. Only males were tested. There is thus no basis for asserting that adult females were not related to the children they were traveling with, making the 30% figure doubly worthless. There is no information on the sex distribution among the migrant adults, or on the number of children per adult, making the 30% figure triply worthless. Nothing except a vague assertion is offered in support of a claim that lack of genetic relationship could not be explained by step-parent status. More worthlessness. Nothing is shown to demonstrate that cases of collateral relationships (nieces, nephews) were properly tested for and discovered. Still more worthlessness. Nothing in the test protocol (a term which undoubtedly over-dignifies a haphazard, results-oriented, undisciplined abuse of science) is mentioned to cope with the likelihood that women traveling alone with children on a perilous journey might sometimes seek out male protectors, and in so doing commence formation of a new family.

          And, finally, there is zero support, nothing at all, for the extraordinary claim that mothers are renting out children, repeatedly, “per border crossing.” That was the quote I questioned, and which you jumped in to answer, as if you thought you had found evidence to support it.

          1. Ow, that left a mark!

          2. Good grief. Did I, or did I not, say, “Granted, this was a pilot program, and not a representative sample.”?

          3. Do you honestly think with such an obvious way to game the system ZERO people have done it??? We don’t know the numbers, but one would be a fool to assume it hasn’t happened many times given the sheer volume of people illegally crossing.

            1. We don’t know the numbers, but one would be a fool to assume it hasn’t happened many times

              And thus does narrative obviate facts.

              1. Just be grateful our children and grandchildren get to compete economically with these clingers, Sarcastro.

                1. INT != WIS.

                  Even Einstein fell to narritivism in the end.

                2. LOL Rev…

                  I have a high IQ, own my own business, and even though I’m merely in my early 30s make multiple times the average national income. By the time I’m a proper old man I’ll probably be able to buy and sell your whole low IQ family like nothin’ with the net worth I will have. I’m not worried about competing with your moron kids or grand kids.

  8. This argument strikes me as utterly zany, for the reasons noted by commenters before me… but perhaps I have overlooked aspects of Trump’s tarriff plan that make a comparison to the Berlin Wall valid.

    For example, is the president demanding that Mexico arm guards with machine guns, and order them to murder anyone attempting to cross the border? Is he ordering that Mexico set up minefields? Is he demanding Mexico deny exit to those with valid visas to *anywhere*? Has he set up a blockade to prevent entry of food into Mexico, requiring that Canada organize an air lift to resupply them?

    If not, this line of argument seems a bit… preposterous.

  9. Comparisons to the Berlin wall aside, Trump’s tariff plan is destructive idiocy – a simple-minded idea that only morons yukking, “Yeah. That’ll show ’em,” could like.

    1. What’s your plan to solve the border crisis then? Trump is trying to use one of the few tools he has. If you have a better plan, let’s hear it.

      (If your plan is “people magically start acting the way I wish they would”, please grow up.)

      1. Start locking up scofflaws like Trump who hire illegal immigrants.

        Illegal immigration is a demand-side problem. We’re not likely to be able to make things so miserable in the U.S. for illegals that it’s worse than the conditions at home that caused them to come to the U.S. so people like Trump hire them.

        Trump- and most of his ignorant fan base- conflate asylees with illegals. They’re two different circumstances. The current border crisis is due to Trump’s willful incompetence in dealing with asylees.

        1. Lock up Americans instead of being mean to Mexico. Got it.

          1. Punish Americans who break the law, Ben.

            Is that too radical for you?

            1. Happy to punish them harshly too. But we should also line the border with Claymore anti-personnel mines. If a few of these cucarachas see their amigos get their legs blown off, they’ll stop coming anywhere near our border.

              1. “If a few of these cucarachas see their amigos get their legs blown off, they’ll stop coming anywhere near our border.”

                Now this must be the type of high-minded, civil commentary the Volokh Conspiracy’s Board of Censorship intends to cultivate by enforcing standards with censorship.

                Keep up that fine work, Prof. Volokh.

        2. Yes, we could. If we denied them due process, health care, education, or anything else, they would be much less likely to stay. And that should include the protection of the laws, so that people who commit crimes against illegals are immune from prosecution.

      2. So your idea is that a stupid counterproductive plan is better than no plan?

        Leaving things as they are is better than putting on this tariff.

        Let’s see. Trump is putting a tax on Americans to get Mexico to do something?

        Will it hurt the Mexican economy? Maybe, so there will be more unemployment in Mexico. How will that discourage Mexicans from wanting to come to the US?

        1. No ideas then, just storytelling about some future events you imagine.

          1. Step one is not offering alternatives, it’s proving this is a plan that will have the effect you want.

            I can see why you’d want to shift that burden.

            1. Seems like a lot of people hate these tariffs against Mexico. They are going to hate them even more as they keep going up and up.

              Mexico can very easily make them go away by stopping Central Americans from going through Mexico to get to our border.

              If Americans want them to go away, Americans can ask their congressional representatives to do something about the border chaos.

              That’s how the tariffs accomplish their objective. Will it work? I don’t pretend to know the future. Obviously no one can ever “prove” some action will lead to a specific future outcome.

              It’s an idea. It could work. It could fail. Do you have any idea that could either work or fail? Or do you only have complaints about others’ ideas?

              1. Ben,

                The tariffs punish Americans. They raise prices on goods imported from Mexico.

                Here’s my plan. Burn hundred-dollar bills at the border in the hope that the smoke will deter immigrants.

                Sound stupid? Maybe, but hey, to quote you, “It’s an idea. It could work. It could fail.”

                1. Trump can’t appropriate money to burn at the border. Your stupid idea isn’t within his power as President. Keep trying.

                  1. You’re a moron, Ben.

                    1. Still no ideas from you.

                    2. Are you serious?

                      I gave you an idea, albeit a sarcastic one. And I’m not sure it’s illegal in TrumpWorld, although his plan tariff may be.

                      Since he wants to use an emergency declaration to divert funds to build the wall, let him instead take that money and burn it, as I suggested. It will do less harm, and accomplish no less.

                      You still don’t understand. Trump’s “plan” is a disaster. Here’s a better one: Do nothing. Even better: Treat the asylum seekers as they deserve to be treated under US law.

                    3. You want another plan?

                      How about helping helping Mexico do whatever it is we want them to do, by providing funding, say.

                      Or try to improve conditions in the other countries the migrants are coming from.

                      Cost too much? The stock market reaction to the Mexico tariff idea was pretty expensive. The S&P500 lost about $300 billion of value Friday.

                    4. It was Monopoly money that was “lost.” We can’t improve the conditions in the other countries unless we actually colonize them, the way Europeans used to colonize the third world. Look at what happened to Rhodesia and South Africa after the British left. Africans, and to a lesser extent, Aztecs/Mayans are not capable of creating civilization. We either have to do it for them, or we have to butt out entirely.

                    5. The President can’t “provide funding”. Congress appropriates funds.

                      The emergency declaration only allows funds to be moved from one purpose to a similar purpose — military projects away from the border to military border-wall-building.

                      Like a child, you have nothing to offer except complaints and wishes that things might be different somehow. No ideas about anything that could possibly be done.

                    6. Then why is Trump directing military funds to building a wall?

                      Tell me, what does it feel like to kiss Trump’s ass when he doesn’t even know you exist?

                    7. “The President can’t “provide funding”. Congress appropriates funds.”

                      When wingnuttery becomes so convoluted it attacks itself . . .

              2. “Or do you only have complaints about others’ ideas?”

                Bernard and Sarcasto support The Resistance!! and the But Trump! lawless court actions which has hindered and disrupted every single Trump immigration effort for 2 1/2 years.

                Literal nothing other than adopting Somin’s open borders views will satisfy them.

                1. I’ve been pretty clear, many times, that I’m not an open borders guy.

                  And in response to your past accusation that I’m irrationally against Trump, I’ve posted the few things I like that he’s done.

                  Your strawmaning that badly shows how much you’ve got nothing.

                  1. So “Sarcasto supports The Resistance!! and the But Trump! … court actions” is false?

                    1. Unthinking knee-jerk anti Trump is just as dumb as unthinking knee-jerk pro-Trump.

                      The court actions are not knee-jerk; they contain detailed reasoning. Your continued appeals to incredulity have proven independent of the actual opinion, so between you, me, and the various judges if anyone is unthinking it’s you.

                      And no, I don’t think conservative judges are knee-jerk. Like the right wing Justices. They’re very, damagingly, wrong about the Constitution and America, but they aren’t just tribal.
                      Except maybe Alito. That guy sucks.

                    2. Not clear what you mean, Sarcastro, but I do think the conservative justices, with the possible exception of Roberts, are pretty clearly little more than Republican operatives.

                      The census case will tell the tale, IMO. Any justice who votes in favor of the government is just a right-wing hack.

                    3. Maybe when the chips are down, Bernard. But Thomas certainly has a philosophy/ideology. Same with Gorsuch. Dunno about Kavanaugh yet.
                      I can’t really suss out a coherent philosophy for Roberts. He seems more an institutionalist, believing in the Supreme Court’s integrity first and a GOP-oriented judicial minimalism second (read: screwing with electoral systems is okay).

                      Now, having a philosophy doesn’t mean you’re always right; idelogical zealots can rationalize some amazingly dangerous things. But so can tribal wankers like Alito.

                2. So you think the tariffs on Mexico are a good idea too?

                  I might have guessed, since you are of the Trump Can Do No Wrong camp.

                  Here’s Bob:

                  No court decision against Trump is legitimate.
                  No policy action Trump takes is misguided.
                  Everything Trump says is true, as an axiomatic matter.

                  1. The tariffs don’t go far enough.

                    He should just limit or even ban trade under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

                    Sometimes the blunt weapon is the best weapon.

                    1. What is it you think banning trade with Mexico will accomplish except massive harm to Americans?

                    2. “What is it you think banning trade with Mexico will accomplish except massive harm to Americans?”

                      It could provide a brief respite for intolerant conservatives tired of being stomped in our culture war for more than a half-century. Counterproductive, costly . . . but a drowning man will lurch toward just about anything available to grab.

                  2. Here’s Bernard:

                    No court decision against Trump is illegitimate.
                    No policy action Trump takes is correct.
                    Everything Trump says is false, as an axiomatic matter.

                    1. That’s closer to being accurate than the opposite.

                3. If Trump was 1/100th the tyrant the left says he has, he would have ordered the military to kidnap these worthless “judges” and throw them into the ocean.

              3. Trump appears to have no authority to impose tariffs, and should he follow through, litigation would seem certain:

              4. “Seems like a lot of people hate these tariffs against Mexico.”

                Yes, lots of Americans hate it.

                “Do you have any idea that could either work or fail?”

                Yes! Drop the tariffs. One way to stop Central Americans from entering the United States is to nuke the entire United States. Do you have a better idea?

                1. If Americans don’t like the tariffs, you can contact your congressional representative and demand congress do something to address the border crisis.

                  You are going to like the tariffs less and less as they are raised repeatedly, so you may want to do it soon.

                  1. Build the wall or the economy gets it is certainly not the position of a crazy person.

                    1. Presidents are not allowed to do anything that will have even a tiny affect on the economy?

                      Because that would be “crazy”. Everyone in elected office who ever did anything is therefore “crazy”.

                      Or your argument is yet another in the endless stream of ridiculous hysteria by people who don’t care when working class Americans get hurt.

                    2. What does allowed mean in this situation? Presidents are legally able to bomb anywhere in the world for 60 days. Doesn’t mean I’m going to say it’s cool and smart.

                      You post is advocating for the President to make worse and worse policies until the opposing party cooperates. There isn’t really another way to see that other than letting your tribalism overtake your patriotism.

                    3. Congress does nothing while the border problems get worse and worse and working class Americans’ future circles the drain.

                      You have no ideas and only offer complaints about the one guy trying to solve the problem with one of the very few tools he has.

                      Is that your idea of patriotism?

                      The people who don’t like Trump keep showing us who they really are: overgrown children and cheerleaders for America’s destruction.

                    4. @Ben_

                      “Congress does nothing while the border problems get worse and worse and working class Americans’ future circles the drain.”

                      So because the Executive is mad at Congress–the same Congress that, even when Republicans controlled both houses, didn’t do anything about the border–he unilaterally imposes taxes on the rest of us? Why doesn’t he instead exercise his authority to resist Congress?

                    5. Because “authority to resist congress” is not actually a thing.

                    6. @Ben_

                      “Because “authority to resist congress” is not actually a thing.”

                      No bully pulpit or State of the Union? No refusal to enforce other laws? No ambition counteracting ambition from the Executive?

                  2. Or I can contact my rep and tell them to do something about the tariff. Or I can just vote against the author of the tariff in the next presidential election.

                    What makes you think I want “congress to do something to address the border” “crisis”?

                    But just so everyone else is abundantly clear, Ben_’s position is that Americans should get taxed until the American government does something about preventing foreigners from crossing our southern border. It seems to me that if the government wants to do something about preventing foreigners from crossing our southern border, it should just do that, rather than punishing Americans until we force the government to do something about it.

                    1. It should do it. Lots of things “should” happen. What’s going to cause any of them to actually happen? Childish wishing isn’t doing the job.

                    2. @Ben_

                      Just so I understand, Republicans couldn’t get enough support to solve the border problem when they held the Presidency and both Houses of Congress. The President’s strategy is to tax the American people until we support securing the border, even though the Republican majority couldn’t be bothered to do so? Should the President propose an increase on income taxes until the American people force Congress to adopt all of the President’s favored policies?

                      If your position is expressly: The President must harm Americans so that Americans agree with him more, do you think that’s going to sell in the next Presidential election? Americans can forget that the President behaves the way he does so long as it doesn’t affect them, and most of the time it doesn’t affect them. This affects them. People love guacamole.

      3. There is no border crisis to solve. But, assuming there was a border crisis, why would tariffs solve it? I don’t agree with the President re: the need for border security, but how does a tax on Americans increase border security?

        We pay more for avocados and the border gets protected? How does any of this follow, in your mind?

        1. Mexico wants the tariffs gone, Mexico secures their southern border and tells Central American migrants to go home. Tariffs get lifted if that happens.

          If you want to save on avocados, tell your congressman to secure the border. Simple.

          1. “Simple” applies to you.

            Geez, what idiots Trumpists are.

            1. Actually, the truth is we could 100% force Mexico to do this if we wanted to. Make the tariffs 100%, going into effect in saaay 90 days unless action is underway. Their entire economy would go into a depression instantly when they kicked in, therefore they would be forced to do what we asked.

              That simple. That’s the “nuclear” option. Trump is just lobbing a hand grenade their way at this point… But you pussies seem to not quite realize how much weight the USA truly has to throw around if we actually wanted to. The USA could demand almost anything of almost any nation on earth, and turn the screws hard enough to get them to do it. We’re just used to being overly nice in recent years.

              1. Or, maybe threatening to destabilize the economy of a country may not have the political effect on that country you think it would.

                The USA could demand almost anything of almost any nation on earth, and turn the screws hard enough to get them to do it. We’re just used to being overly nice in recent years.
                You don’t think there would be consequences if we went full imperial?
                Why not just nuke Mecca, eh?

                1. Consequences? Sure. Ones that matter much? Perhaps not.

                  Frankly, this whole insane song and dance we have nowadays is basically all built around white guilt pushed by the progs. If the US and Europe all of a sudden stopped being cowards and were willing to assert themselves again, we could be running shit with damn near as much power as we did at the peak of imperialism, because our power is only slightly diminished.

                  We’ve just been kowtowing to shit foreign countries because we want to seem nice. I think the age of the nice guy needs to come to an end. Not that we need to nuke people or invade anywhere, I’m antiwar. But there is nothing wrong with being assertive in instances where the national interest is at stake. Part of the problem is that the Europeans, our natural allies, are so cucked. But perhaps not for long… Many countries in Europe are further along in some of their nationalist/right leaning sentiments than the USA.

                  So we’ll see how things go.

              2. “…we could 100% force Mexico to do this if we wanted to..”

                We could just invade them, too. Or nuke them. But so what? That’s going to create bigger problems than it solves.

                “But you pussies seem to not quite realize how much weight the USA truly has to throw around if we actually wanted to.”

                So long as we’re willing to harm Americans, we can do whatever we want! Let’s be more like China, then. Of course it’s hard to do that in a democracy, since most people aren’t going to tolerate having their consumer goods go up massively just so the President can convince his supporters that he isn’t a pussy. But sure, great strategy. Maybe the President is the pussy for not immediately going for 100% tariffs? Why not 200%? You pussy.

                1. Ugh.

                  You fail to realize that perhaps a good grip of the US would PREFER an end to illegal immigration over modest tariffs.

                  The whole point of using 100% tariffs is that they would never go into effect, because Mexico would be forced to cave. That is actually a major flaw in Trump’s strategy. He’s only implemented tariffs that are a minor annoyance, as opposed to a true death blow. If he started out with the death blow, they would have caved far faster out of sheer necessity. Trump isn’t the brightest though, so I’ll cut him slack.

      4. What’s your plan to solve the border crisis then?

        Simple: repeat after me: “The border crisis is completely fictional.” There you go. Solved.

        1. Awesome. Then you can tell yourself there’s no tariff either. Denial solves everything.

  10. Open border advocates, like Somin, perceive themselves above the fray while dreaming of a one world government where they will pull the strings.
    Trump (America Fist) is evil.

    1. You forgot the ((( ))) your ilk puts around his name.

      1. If you don’t think there are LOTS of politicians and other power brokers around the world who truly do desire a one world government… You need to read more. Many globalists have outright said it in public, including David Rockefeller in his auto biography.

        1. There are lots of people who desire freer labor markets. In the past we’ve called them things like President Reagan and President Bush. Sometimes they’re called capitalists.

          1. Anybody who lives in a 1st world nation and wants a truly free market in labor is a fool, and hasn’t thought through the true repercussions.

            With true open borders the standard of living and pay scale would rapidly level out. There is no other option. 1st world nations would see a huge drop, and poor nations would see a rise. This is exactly what has happened already with the liberalization we have had. It isn’t a bad thing TO A POINT either. I wish the whole world prosperity… But not if it comes at too high a cost to my own nation.

            True open borders would probably cut 1st world wages by more than 50% in a decade as cheap immigrants flooded in. That would actually serve my interests well as I own businesses, but for employees it would suck. And I still don’t prefer it at the societal level, even if I would benefit personally.

  11. “The whole point of the plan is precisely to force Mexico to lock in its own people.”

    Most illegal immigrants aren’t coming from Mexico anymore. The whole point is to force Mexico to stem the tide of Central Americans traveling north through their country.

  12. The Berlin Wall was built because Germans kept leaving the socialist paradise. If Mexicans and other Central Americans are not allowed entry into the US at their own convenience, they can still travel all over the world to other countries. How about to Nicaragua, which is another socialist paradise, and much closer? They are not being locked into Mexico.

  13. Yet another in a series of essays about how Americans owe everyone in the world a chance to prosper at our expense.

    Meanwhile, everyone else in the world will be offering Americans exactly zero. Zero help. Zero benefits. Zero opportunities in return. Zero.

    No sale Professor Somin. Stop trying to make our lives worse.

  14. The better analogy would be the American Indians demanding the US stop its citizens from moving into tribal lands. What is one nation’s migration is another’s invasion.

    1. Yup.

      Many people truly don’t seem to grasp the idea that America as the place it once was will cease to be if we become too overwhelmed with immigrants… America existed before Europeans. The Indians were pretty happy with the situation. Europeans came and replaced them. “America” never went away during that transition, it simply became a completely different place.

      The same thing is happening to America right now… The only thing is this time it will be getting shittier instead of getting an upgrade!

  15. President Trump requires that Mexico stop them from coming to America. If Mexico wants to help them get to China or Venezuela or Cuba, that is fine with President Trump.

  16. It is funny to hear liberals all interested in the “rule of law” these days after spending decades ignoring it and letting criminals go free. Maybe interest in law and order will become a new bipartisan issue!

    1. A half-century of liberal-libertarian mainstream progress — involving diminution of bigotry, unearned privilege, and superstition in American life — seems to have made right-wing clingers and faux libertarians quite cranky.

      Liberals have been shaping American law throughout our lifetimes — not ignoring it — against conservatives’ preferences and efforts.

      America has experienced successive waves of intolerance and ignorance — often tied to skin color, religion, nationality, or perceived economic progress — throughout our history. Those targeted for demonization, discrimination, and violence have included Jews, Asians, blacks, Italians, eastern Europeans, Catholics, gays, Hispanics, the Irish, women, and others.

      American should be proud that the lesser elements (immigrant-bashers) do not prevail here, at least not over time. And this latest batch of seems nothing special, its reliance on the integrity, insights, and charm of Donald Trump notwithstanding.

      1. If you consider what has happened to America from 1965 to the present to be “progress,” you are seriously deranged.

        1. It’s artie poo, that goes without saying.

          1. So you also yearn for the better America of the 1960s?

            1. America WAS better in the 1960s.

              As I have said to a million shit libs in real life conversations, if anything we should have been trying to make everything available to white Americans during our mini golden age available to all (but not guaranteed mind you!)… Instead the progs decided to burn it down and destroy everything good about our society out of self hatred or something.

              We’re less free and more oppressed than we’ve ever been in this country.

              1. Actually, the left is trying to make the system that was perceived as available to white males in the 1960s available to all.

                Part of that is recognizing the oppression and whitewashing that was also going on. If you call that hating America, it’s because you don’t want to put in the confrontational work needed to analyze what went right and what went wrong.

                And don’t think the 1960s was without stress. Read some of their sci-fi. It’s dark as anything! Alienation, cold-war armageddon, growth of the faceless technocracy…

                Finally, your implicit ‘we’ who are more oppressed is actually pretty telling.

                1. Bullshit. What you’re trying to do is normalize perversion and actively destroy traditional America, including the family.

                2. Bullshit. They’ve tried as hard as possible to destroy all social institutions by burning them to the ground. They’ve restricted the crap out of economic freedom, personal freedom, etc. Much of this was done in the name of giving handouts to minorities.

                  If you think quota systems and welfare are going to help minorities ever get their shit together, you’re trippin’. Only time and hard work will do that. And the WE I was referring to is all Americans. A black guy making $100K a year is getting fucked way harder nowadays too just like the white guy making 6 figures.

  17. The question remains whether millions of gringos have the right to move to Mexico and set up housekeeping in derogation of Mexican law. That millions of Americans would not choose to do so doesn’t undercut whether we have the right.

    1. We certainly don’t have the right to buy property in Baja California.

    2. The question remains whether millions of gringos have the right to move to Mexico and set up housekeeping in derogation of Mexican law.

      I guess someone somewhere is asking that question, but how is it relevant here?

    3. I think we should just swap. We could move say 200 million English speaking Americans into Mexico and Central America, and they can all come here! It’ll work out awesome!

      For about 5 minutes. Then America will degenerate into a 3rd world toilet, even with all the infrastructure, housing, etc gifted to them… Meanwhile SOMEHOW Mexico and Central America will magically shoot to 1st world status within a decade or two. Then they’ll be trying to immigrate BACK down to where they started.

      It’s the people and the culture that make a country, nothing else. There’s a reason Anglo settlers moved to the most desolate places on earth and turned them into the wealthiest nations on the planet by pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps, and others still can’t pull it off even with tons of help from 1st world nations.

      1. Exactly. And prior to decades of leftist brainwashing, white men understood the obvious truth that they were mentally superior to all groups but East Asians and were superior in building civilization.

        1. One of the funniest things IMO about the whole “white people have always been evil racists” thing is that it’s not true… When whites first arrived in parts of Asia and wrote about it, or even the middle east when it was less of a dumpster fire… They gave a LOT of praise to the nice, clean, orderly, civilized people they found in Asia. They said many nice, flowery things about China and Japan.

          They alternatively said that Africa was a dumpster fire, and much the same about North America. They said modestly nice things about some parts of South America, as it was indeed in between in terms of development.

          In other words, even back in the day, whites were pretty even handed and objective in their assessments of people they came across. The noted that Asia was pretty awesome, and that Africa was fucked. Funny that racists wouldn’t have said they were all horrible and inferior…

  18. Meanwhile, what makes anyone think Trump has got any constitutional power to impose any tariff he pleases for any purpose he can dream up? Maybe it’s some kind of federal law he’s twisting—but has the administration even explained where its authority comes from? I’m pretty sure congress never passed a law to say the president gets to impose tariffs at will.

    Pretty soon there ought to be a high level meeting to see whether stuff like this tariff antic amounts to actual strait jacket insanity, and 25A review material.

    1. Probably the same Constitutional power that Anthony Kennedy thought he had to impose a “right” to bugger another dude onto unwilling states.

    2. Any reliance on 25 A is absurd. Trump is not going to get impeached and convicted. The 25A lift is much heavier.

      1. Absurd because Trump is not insane? Or absurd because he is insane, but can count on the Senate to back actual insanity?

        1. Yes, absurd because Trump is not insane.

          Some advice: you should avoid advocating the overthrow of the elected US President in a de-facto coup d’état. Especially if you are posting under your real name.

          1. Ben, use of a constitutional power is never illegitimate overthrow of the government. If you are suggesting fear of totalitarianism, that possibility doesn’t come as a surprise.

            But as for Trump not being insane, I don’t know. He is threatening Mexico with a policy he isn’t empowered to enact, to get a result which can only undermine the senate support Trump must have to withstand impeachment. That seems crazy enough, doesn’t it?

            That’s how bad Trump’s bargaining position is. He thinks tariffs are a threat to the countries he “targets,” when in fact U.S. tariffs all get paid by U.S. consumers. So to impose tariffs while you import more from the country you target than they import from you? That’s how you lose.

            After AMLO thinks this one over, he might conclude, “Why wait for October? Let’s win a full-on trade war right now!” He could have Mexico put a 25% tariff on all American imports to Mexico, while inviting Trump to do likewise on Mexican imports to the U.S. When most American cars go up 25%, and nobody expects it to last, so nobody buys cars at all, won’t Trump look great again then?

            Not to mention the U.S. lock on corn sales to Mexico—which for years after it was enabled, played a notable role in driving former Mexican farmers north, after they couldn’t compete with American corn prices. How will the U.S. red states respond to losing that market, right after Trump’s genius plans got them kicked out of China? And how are those farmers going to vote after they discover the $30 billion Trump said he would give them to make up their tariff-war losses, he can’t come up with—unless the house of representatives appropriates the $30 billion.

            For a sanity check, try to imagine Gerald Ford, or Jimmy Carter, suddenly getting some brainstorm that he could personally, on his own initiative, with no okay from congress, launch a tariff war on Mexico, with all the costs to be paid by U.S. consumers, to force some policy having nothing to do with trade. Do you think there wouldn’t have been widespread concern about dementia, or a stroke, if that had happened?

            But of course, it is unthinkable that either Ford or Carter would have tried that. You know why? Because they were both well known to be sane. You know why it is not unthinkable for Trump to try that? Of course you do.

            1. 25A actions are illegitimate when the conditions for 25A are not met. You should read it and try to exhibit more sanity of your own.

              1. Ben, do you suppose there are conditions for 25th amendment action, other than those written in the amendment?

                1. It says what it says. There’s nothing about disagreement over policy in it.

                  1. There is nothing about any specific cause of incapacity written into it. Nor are repeated attempts to exercise powers the president does not have examples of “disagreement over policy.”

                    1. Yes they are. Be honest. If it was for a policy you liked by a politician you like, you wouldn’t care about whether it was legal or not. This 25A discussion shows that clearly.

                  2. You are full of beans, Ben. I was against Hillary, although never for Trump. And of course I understand that Trump’s removal gets me the booby prize, President Pence.

                    I mention the 25A because I am fully convinced that Trump is actually insane. Not psychotic mind you, but probably bi-polar, or extreme narcissism, or some similar affliction. Whatever it is that ails him, I suggest Trump’s record fully demonstrates personal (and likely permanent) incapacity to perform the powers and duties of his office.

                    Note too, that there has been a cavalcade of former Trump administration insiders who testify that they saw what amounts to insane behavior, coupled with utter disregard for powers and duties. Wasn’t it one of Trump’s own lawyers who said publicly that he could not put Trump in a chair for an interview, because Trump would be incapable of answering without lying?

                    In the history of the presidency, there is no precedent for behavior of the insane-looking kind Trump has shown to so many close associates, let alone to the public. Surely you must know that yourself.

                    1. That’s some hysterical blathering.

                      Redefining anything you don’t like as “insane” is dishonest, foolish, and totalitarian. It’s what an enemy of America might do.

          2. Yes, absurd because Trump is not insane.

            Well, stupid, sociopathic, narcissistic, delusional. You say tomato, I say tomahto.

            Some advice: you should avoid advocating the overthrow of the elected US President in a de-facto coup d’état. Especially if you are posting under your real name.

            Some advice: you shouldn’t let 12-year olds post from your computer; it makes you look really bad.

  19. I read with interest Somin’s prior article on the Love Terminal Takings Case, but on the heels of something cogent and rational we have this insanity. Securing a country’s border against a massive illegal alien trespass constitutes a violation of the right to emigrate under international law? Since when does a right to leave a country constitute a right to trespass over the borders and establish residency in any country of your choosing, outside of the legal process established by that country? Somin should be ashamed to make such an argument. Unless this is just one big joke? Maybe it is.

    1. Are you afraid of being replaced by this “massive illegal alien trespass,” MKE?

      Don’t be afraid. You are going to be replaced, regardless of immigration policy or practice. You chose the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the culture war, the wrong side of the moral continuum. America will be better for it.

  20. Let’s make a deal. Theres similar preexisting programs but lets consolidate it all into a single program, tweak it a bit, and make it very clear.

    How about anybody that wants to can choose to sponsor anybody they want in the world (provided they meet some bare minimum requirements: have a clean record, disease free etc) to come and live here? In return the sponsor demonstrates they have the means and assumes all financial (including program costs) and legal responsibility until the sponsee can demonstrate independence (absolutely no welfare allowed) for a period of 5-10 years. Fraud, like sponsoring without the means or shirking your charge will be meet with severe legal penalties.

    That way Somin can bring in as many immigrants as his heart desires (and he can afford) sound good?

    1. In return they also stop whining about the border because they can pay to bring anyone they think is unfairly excluded.

  21. Look, you can believe that countries have a “right” to keep non-citizens from entering (or leaving) their countries. You can believe that Trump is 100% in the right to be spuriously invoking some “emergency” tariff authority he thinks he has in order to try to force the Mexican government to do more to restrict the free movement of Mexicans and non-Mexicans within their territory.

    What you can’t do is say all of that and claim to be a libertarian or opposed to authoritarian, lawless government.

    1. Mexico has a right to allow people to move as they want in their country. And America has the right to impose a penalty of they use this to help facilitate illegal immigration into American territory.

      1. Do you not understand that the people penalized by these tariffs are American consumers, not Mexico?

        You probably believe that China is paying the tariffs on Chinese imports.

        Are you people total fools?

        1. If tariffs only hurt Americans and do nothing to Mexico and China I guess they’re all for it then and this ‘trade war’ is just a collective hallucination.

          1. I suggest trade wars share one notable trait with nuclear wars. Both kinds of wars are about both sides losing. And both kinds get decided on the basis of which side can better sustain losses. Which means less-developed countries have an advantage over more-developed countries. The latter have far more at stake, and thus far more to lose. The former don’t have so far to fall.

            On that basis—and even though he had no nuclear arms of his own—Mao made a calculation that China could withstand an all-out U.S. nuclear attack during the Korean war, and still win. He just figured his woefully underdeveloped country did not have much worth blowing up with atomic bombs.

            Dreams of trade war supremacy for the U.S. have long suffered a similar limitation. These days, the trade war limitation is the more severe, because in a trade war the U.S. has no existential-scale threat to wield. Instead, the U.S. has more to lose in a trade war, per capita, than any other nation. That makes the U.S. uniquely vulnerable, as the nation perched highest, with the farthest to fall.

            Given that, Trump’s determination to initiate asymmetrical warfare against himself seems perverse. American consumers and exporters stand to become the principal victims, while Mexican peasants rejoice that they don’t any longer suffer ruinous competition in their domestic corn market.

            Mexican industrial workers who lose their jobs can march north, over the border. An American economy in shambles will advantage the lowest-wage workers available, abetting political pressures to let the Mexicans work at liberty. We have already seen how that works.

            The kind of thinking necessary to understand this stuff is just that slight bit more difficult than average. Which excludes using failure to understand as actual evidence of psychosis—and maybe lets Trump off the hook. But as policy, what Trump is doing is insane.

            But that is not all. It is also insane as politics. The discovery of how insane awaits only an insight which will probably dawn shortly in Mexico and China—that they enjoy that asymmetrical development advantage. With full on stubborn resistance, and maximum retaliatory action, both countries acting in concert could put Trump’s Republicans in a political vice which might squeeze Trump right out of the White House. It is a foolish deal-maker indeed who puts that kind of initiative in the hands of adversaries, for use at their own discretion.

            1. China has already been waging a one sided trade war with America…and the rest of the world for years now. Might as well get something out of it, instead of lying back and continue taking it out of fear. As for whether this is a good idea; I guess we’ll see whether you, status quo globalists, and HuffPo journalism majors know more about/will advise whats better for America than Chinese/Mexican experts/The White House’s experts and advisors.

              1. In the long run, the US prevails if China unilaterally engages in a trade war. China dumps cheap steel on the global market? Great, American consumers get cheaper steel funded by China’s taxes on the Chinese. China institutes prohibitive tariffs on American imports? Great, China’s domestic industries eventually fail into irreparable decline due to lack of serious competition, and American industry dominates them globally. Or, alternatively, China props them up with domestic taxes to artificially make the goods cheaper; again, this is tantamount to China subsidizing the world.

                But what will happen if the US can’t import anything to China? Nothing, really. China (~$130B exports) is a distant third behind Mexico (~$240B) and Canada (~$280B).

                Why do you care about trade deficits? Please enlighten us as to why you think it matters.

                1. *export anything to China.

            2. You have it exactly backwards about who has the advantage…

              1st world nations are the ones with the money to import things. We can import things from ANY cheap nation. Therefore we can cutoff any given exporting nation without hardly flinching or even feeling any pain. That’s why nobody has really noticed shit all with the Chinese tariffs. Many businesses are already moving to sourcing things from other low wage nations.

              In short we can replace Mexican goods with Vietnamese goods… But Mexico can’t replace the USA with other export markets, because none big enough to replace us exists.

              How you people can have such flawed logical thinking capacity blows my mind. But it is very much like a nuclear war, that analogy is correct. We’re just the ones who can sustain FAR more losses than anybody else.

              1. “How you people can have such flawed logical thinking capacity blows my mind. But it is very much like a nuclear war, that analogy is correct. We’re just the ones who can sustain FAR more losses than anybody else.”

                Why would I want to sustain any losses? What is it you think the United States is losing with China? I don’t care if China has a large trade surplus, or manipulates its currency. Because I benefit from those things. You do too.

                1. You THINK you benefit.

                  Once you factor in the fact that you’re now paying higher taxes to support welfare for all the people who lost their jobs, or had to take far lower wage jobs… Not so much. When you factor in that whatever business you are in is selling less of whatever it does to your fellow Americans, because they’re poorer, you’re not benefiting. When you factor in that trillions in foreign owned investments based in the USA have their profits going overseas instead of going into the pockets of American investors, and that money isn’t sloshing around the US economy anymore, you’re not.

                  It’s a lot more complicated than people like you want to admit.

                  If we export the manufacture of an item to shave production costs 10%, but now 90% of that money is supporting a foreign economy… There is NOTHING we can do with that 10% savings that can economically make up for the loss of the other 90% to foreigners. It’s simple math. And if the US workers who lost their job cannot replace it with one that pays them as much or more money, then that hurt ripples even further through the economy. Which is exactly what happened by the numbers over the last couple decades.

          2. Amos,

            It is true that the Mexican and the Chinese economies will be hurt by the tariffs as well, but the actual tariff payments – you know, the billions Trump claims are coming into the Treasury – come from Americans paying higher prices for imported goods. It’s a tax, Amos.

            And how exactly does increasing unemployment in Mexico discourage immigration from there. It rather encourages it.

          3. Notice he’s confessed that tariffs do hurt Americans.

        2. Apparently, you have an incomplete understanding of tariffs.

          1. Excuse me, David Ricardo, but I understand them just fine.

    2. BS

      One does not have to be “Open Borders” in order to be libertarian.

      The best economic liberty for my fellow American citizens requires not letting in millions of unskilled competitors who will lower the wages, and decrease the quality of life, of many of those American citizens.

      “You’re only a valuable human being if you have a college degree” is not a libertarian belief, it’s a bigoted hater belief.

      Stop being a bigoted hater

  22. That someone could write such a preposterously stupid post and be a professor at an accredited university shows the low standards of academia.

    1. The scary thing is he’s nowhere near the worst. Some of the most delusional and/or fanatical people I know are professors or are otherwise in academia.

    2. I agree 100%. What an embarrassment, not only to himself, but his students and the reputation of the university.

      1. I get the sense you guys are fans of schools such as Regent, Hillsdale, Ave Maria, Biola, Liberty, Bob Jones, Oral Roberts, Franciscan, and Wheaton.

        Good luck with that, clingers.

  23. On Somin’s particular point that there is something crossing-the-Rubicon like about trying to prevent the arrival of llegal immigrants by applying (lawful) pressure on third parties at the other end – ie where they’re coming from – to stop them setting off on a journey that will result in an illegal arrival, we should note that however wicked it might be, it’s utterly routine.

    Many countries have now made airlines financially responsible for repatriating those of their passengers who arrive unlawfully. With the result that the airline now checks your visa or your onward ticket, and if you don’t have the right stuff, they won’t let you board.

  24. The comparison to East Germany left out a critical and glaring fact: There was no path for temp travel or legal immigration from East Germany to the west. Trump is not saying legal immigration should ne stoped. This glaring ommission of fact brings into serious question the objectivity of the author of this article.

  25. I am not a lawyer, but if the author’s fatally flawed argument is a credible indicator, it brings his critical thinking and analysis into question. I will be using this article in my instruction to the students I mentor as an exercise and an example of fatally flawed logic.

  26. I am not a lawyer, but if the author’s fatally flawed argument is a credible indicator, it brings his critical thinking and analysis into question. I will be using this article in my instruction to the students I mentor as an exercise and an example of fatally flawed logic. I am embarrassed for the author.

  27. […] Somin at the Volokh Conspiracy argues against importing the principles of the Berlin Wall to the US-Mexico […]

  28. As a practical matter, moreover, the US border is Mexico’s longest and most significant land boundary, by far, and blocking exit rights through that border is a major restriction on Mexicans’ ability to go anywhere by land.

    And yet the world is positively teeming with Aussies, New Zealanders and Japanese. Not to mention Brits, South Africans, Chinese, Canucks and, er, Americans who very rarely inflict themselves on the rest of the world by land. Admittedly we have had passenger jet travel for less than a hundred years, but surely Prof Somin has heard of it ?

  29. Instapundit’s four sentence take down of Somin is a thing of beauty: “If the Berlin Wall had stopped people from going to West Germany while they were allowed to go to every other country in the world — which is the correct analogy here — then it wouldn’t have been a big deal. In addition, Trump’s effort is in part to stop Mexico from allowing (or maybe encouraging) migrants from Central America to pass through Mexico and enter America illegally. That doesn’t fit the Berlin Wall analogy at all. Which is because it’s a dumb analogy that doesn’t remotely match the facts at hand.

    If this is the strongest argument against Trump’s immigration policy, then Trump’s immigration policy is safe.”

    1. Even Instapundit’s analogy is overgenerous to Somin, because even if Trump closed the border between Mexico and the US, that wouldn’t prevent Mexicans from travelling to the US. They can fly. Or if they’re absolutely determined to cross into the US by land, they can fly to Canada and cross from there.

      So Instapundit’s analogy needs to be expanded to a hypothetical East Germany that prevents its citizens from travelling to West Germany from East Germany by land but which doesn’t care if they fly to West Germany from East Germany, or fly to Denmark and then drive over the border to West Germany.

  30. Insisting that people use designated border crossings and following the quite reasonable rules implemented at those crossings is not equivalent to “locking people in”.
    Not to mention that the author’s grotesque comparison dishonors the memories of the thousands who were summarily shot and left to die by East German border guards. Shame on you Ilya!

  31. Does Trump make you stupid, or is it the subject of immigration that makes you stupid?

    Every single country in the world has an absolute right decide who does, and who does not, get to come in to that country.

    That is what it means to BE a country. If you don’t / can’t control your borders, you’re not a country. You are, at best, a collection of tribal groups that live on some land, until someone else comes along and pushes you off of it.

    The Berlin Wall was about imprisoning their own citizens, who wanted to leave. It was imposed by East Germany, on East Germans.

    Trump’s fight is to get Mexico to enforce its own southern border, to help make the US southern border more secure.

    Now, the proper response to the current situation would be for the US to stop accepting any “refugees”, from anywhere, and keep on rejecting all of them until such time as the open borders crowd (you know, people like you), stop trying to use “refugee” status to let fake refugees invade America. Sadly, he’s not yet will / able to go there. But keep up the dishonesty, and we will, happily, get there.

    Jews fleeing Nazi Germany / the oppressive Soviet gov’t? Those are real refugees.

    Poor people fleeing a crapy country for a better life? Those are not refugees. Those are immigrants. You don’t immigrate from a good country where you’re well off, you stay there.

    Do you have a worthwhile policy claim? Or is it all lies, fraud, and BS? Because if you do have something worthwhile, you need to stop all the lies, fraud, and BS.

    1. If you don’t / can’t control your borders, you’re not a country.

      So the U.S. wasn’t a country for its first century and a half?

      1. Really? You claim the US had no way to stop people from coming in to the US from 1787 to 1937?

        I take it you never even heard of Ellis Island?

        “Control” means “choice”. We can CHOOSE to let lots of people in, or we can CHOOSE not to.

        Through our laws, we have chosen not to. You don’t have to like it. But if you are going to work to sabotage our laws, we are going to work, quiet properly, to destroy every desire you have for the US, and keep on doing so until you stop being such any enemy of the US

        1. “I take it you never even heard of Ellis Island?”

          Ellis Island wasn’t a federal immigration station until 1890.

          1. I know that. Which makes it 1 century after the the US Constitution was ratified, not “a century and a half”.

            So, congratulations on your knowledge of history. Now you just need to learn how to read, and do math

            1. Yes, you’re very clever. I was just responding to your (now confessed incorrect) assertion that Ellis Island had something to do with stopping people from entering the United States from 1787-1890.

              Set that aside. Ellis Island isn’t a border station. We’re talking about border control. Specifically the southern border. Perhaps what David had in mind was that since the United States Border Control was not created until 1924 (137 years from 1787), claims that a country cannot exist without strict enforcement of its border ignores that our country did exist, for nearly a century and a half, without a border patrol.

              1. Nope, like I said, learn how to read:

                “If you don’t / can’t control your borders, you’re not a country.

                So the U.S. wasn’t a country for its first century and a half?”

                Ellis Island was operating during the first century and a half of the US’s existence.

                “Choosing to let a lot of people in” != “we have no control over our borders, and who we let in”.

                Claiming to believe otherwise displays either gross stupidity, or gross dishonesty. Which is it in your case?

              2. The normal organization for the control of a country’s borders is the military. For example, WRT the US, the major border over which people came here was the ocean.

                Which is why we had a Coast Guard, Navy, and Marines

      2. The US had the power, and used it, to deport people from the earliest days. We sent people packing after the Revolution was won. We also had laws about who could become a citizen. We even fought about a million border wars with various foreign governments over where the lines on the map went too. So GTFO with that shit.

    2. Jews fleeing Nazi Germany / the oppressive Soviet gov’t? Those are real refugees.

      Latin America has been a very peaceful and not at all oppressive or deadly place lately.

      lies, fraud, and BS.
      I think Prof. Somin is wrong about immigration. But Trumps plan is pretty dumb nevertheless. And not liking his analogy isn’t the same as him lying to you, much less defrauding(?) you.

      1. Latin American gov’t as not specifically picking out small non-criminal groups of people, and trying to particularly destroy their lives.

        THAT is what it means to be a refugee. Not “my country sucks”, but “my country’s government is specifically targeting me for non-legitimate reasons.”

        For example, if you were a supporter of Marxist terrorists, then your country’s gov’t is targeting you for legitimate reasons, and I hope they kill you.

        But “my country is a shithole, and I want to escape to a non-shithole” is the standard reason for immigrating. Those people are not refugees, they are immigrants. Adn it’s the US’s sole right to decide what immigrants we’ll let in, as determined by writter US Immigration law

        1. Yup. And the thing nobody ever seems to be able to accept on this front either is that THE ENTIRE WORLD is a shithole compared to the USA.

          The fact that it is illegal for these people to come here, and that keeps a large number of law abiding people from trying to come here, is the only reason we’re not completely overwhelmed. We cannot possibly take in all the poor bastards in the world. So why should we take in an excessively large number of them that makes our nation shittier? The true answer is they need to make their countries better, as that is the only way everybody can eventually live in a decent nation.

        2. Persecution needn’t be by the national government, Greg J. We’ve long taken refugees from cartel violence.

          1. 1: We shouldn’t
            2: In many places the cartel IS the effective gov’t
            3: “I don’t like living under a drug cartel” != “this drug cartel is specifically targeting me and my family because I worked to stop them.”

            Whether or not the later person is a valid refugee, the former is not

  32. Mexican citizens are not “locked in” by the closing of their northern border. They have a southern border and many ports on both the Gulf of Mexico and Pacific.

  33. […] policies and immigration restrictions are one case in point. Take, for example, Ilya Somin of the Volokh […]

  34. “the US border is Mexico’s longest and most significant land boundary, by far“

    Credit where credit is due, Trump physically separating the US from Canada is certainly his greatest achomlishment yet. #promiseskept

  35. Are you REALLY this fucking retarded?

    Mexicans are not being forbidden from traveling to the USA… Trump simply wants them to actually go through legal border checkpoints, as required by on the books laws in both Mexico AND the USA. Mexicans, like any of them without a massive criminal record, can cross legally into the USA with basically zero effort to just visit. Getting legal visas for work or other reasons (study, etc) are harder, but nobody is being locked in anywhere by any reasonable meaning.

    The same would apply no non Mexican citizens as well. How fucking retarded and TDS stricken does a brain have to be to not see the difference.

    1. “Are you REALLY this fucking retarded?”

      Well, yes he is, quite literally. He is retarded in his thinking, in his logic and reasoning, as a result of this mental disorder associated with his progressive-liberal, supposedly libertarian philosophy, and his Trump derangement syndrome. It may sound like a joke, or an insult, but it’s really the case. Otherwise intelligent people believe the craziest things, and say the craziest things, even in contradiction to evidence in plain view, or incontrovertible, obvious facts.

      Pretzel logic: “twisted or circular reasoning that when dissected is wrong, does not make sense or does not explain the situation rationally.”

      The cynical diagnosis is that he really knows it’s nonsense, yet hopes to recruit a feeble minded but useful following. This would be the case for many of those in politics, and their sycophants. For example, those who despite the Mueller report’s obvious, clear conclusion, say it is an indictment of POTUS for obstruction. Some really believe it (retarded); some don’t but push it nonetheless.

      I tend to believe Prof. Somin is among the truly affected. He believes the crazy stuff he writes.

      1. Somin is wrong, but he’s not twisting anything. And he’s certainly not a sekret liberal.

        Retarded is in an interesting place these days. I see it more lately by angry conservatives ’round here, though that may just be the Reason comentariat talking. Or it may be some dumb attempt to own the libs.
        I find it mildly distasteful, but not as bad as calling something ‘gay’ as in ‘bad’ though worse than calling someone ‘illegal.’

        1. “Somin is wrong, but he’s not twisting anything.”

          He certainly is. He’s twisting several things, but here’s just one example: (let’s start at the beginning) “Trump’s Plan to Force Mexico to Lock In its Own People.” Is that so? Is that really what Trump’s plan is? No, it’s not. Somin has twisted Trump’s plan to pressure Mexico to stop letting people stream across the border into some kind of bizarre – twisted – notion that Trump’s plan is to lock them into Mexico.

        2. In truth, there are retards on the left AND the right. Always have been, always will be.

          But if one had to take a count and break it into percentages, I have little doubt that the left has FAR more delusional retards in it today than the right does.

  36. Also, if you guys REALLY believe that every single person in El Salvador should just be able to move here… Why don’t we just annex the fucking place? We can take over rule there, and fix the place up for them at taxpayer expense, and call it good?

    Because if we have some obligation to accept 100% of the ones that want to come here, we might as well just go all in.

  37. I am completely puzzled that anyone, the author included, would consider this a rational argument. Maybe I lack some information? But I cannot recall every reading or hearing Trump calling for Mexico to “lock in” people in Mexico, prevent them from leaving to any destination, except across the US border.

    This is reminiscent to other manufactured narratives. Perhaps Prof. Somin hopes Trump detractors will adopt the “lock them in” narrative.

    Complete nonsense. Somin has jumped the shark, and continues to degrade the Volokh conspiracy with his nonsense.

  38. Is all border enforcement on par with Soviet Gulags, or does that only apply to US border enforcement?

    I recall getting a hard time when I tried to travel into Canada. They asked me offensive questions like “Why are you here?” “How long do you plan to stay?” and “Do ya think the Leafs will make it this year?”

    I guess this just reinforces the view that Canada really has taken a hard turn towards Communism.

    1. I’ve been to many foreign countries, and I don’t recall entering a single one without having had to present my “papers,” including a visa in some cases, and being asked some questions about what I was going to do, where I was going to stay, and when I was leaving, including Canada, the UK, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Taiwan, Japan, Brazil, France. And the US, when returning.

  39. Here’s my proposal, my recommendation to Pres. Trump (I hear he follows the Volokh Conspiracy).

    Canada is considering cancelling our STCA – Safe Third Country Agreement. “A May 2017 lawsuit filed in Canada argues that the United States is no longer a safe third country because current U.S. policies and practices—including denying refugees access to the asylum process at the U.S. southern border, the criminal prosecution of asylum seekers for unlawful entry, the short one-year filing deadline on asylum applications, and the expanded and widespread detention of asylum seekers—put asylum seekers at risk of refoulement; or, at risk of being returned to a country where they fear persecution or torture.”
    United States Seeks to Reject Asylum Seekers by Designating Mexico a Safe Third Country

    Trump should push Canada to cancel the agreement, or should go ahead and cancel it ourselves.

    Then, when we pick up “refugees” at our southern border, we can just transport them to our northern border and dump them into Canada, just as Mexico is doing to us!

  40. Oh my. Every time I am about to read the rancid drivel produced by Somin I always picture a short little fool with his codpiece placed in back of his tights so that the article itself is illustrated by the lump.

Please to post comments