Progressives are quite desperate to stop the Wall, most likely because they suspect it might actually work. Here is a video from the election period, wherein we are lectured by a smarmy Progressive on how stupid the plebs are for believing a wall could work:
Some of the claims here are quick to dismiss or explain. Let’s go through them in short order:
The Wall will cost between $15 and $25 billion.
This may be true. Current estimates are somewhere in that neighborhood for the total project. The video equates this to one year of NASA’s budget, and makes it sound like a big scary number. Now true, this is not chump change. And generally speaking, I loathe government spending on big boondoggle projects. However, border security is a legitimate function of the Federal government and, coincidentally, one of the functions it has refused to execute properly in recent years.
Democrats are screaming about a $25 billion wall, and yet spend more than that on social services for illegal immigrants. Everything from medical care to in-state tuition is provided for them. So the number on the invoice may be correct, but it does not take into account the savings that could be realized if the Wall worked as designed (especially if combined with deportation). If it did, we’d probably have a net savings in terms of government spending.
The host of this video would have you believe this is an unprecedented effort on a truly monumental scale, and that nobody could do it. That is lunacy. After all, we’ve built dozens of freeways crossing the entire country. The Interstate Highway system positively dwarfs this effort by orders of magnitude. The Chinese built their wall long before industrialization was a thing. The Romans built forts, walls, limes, and Roman roads crisscrossing Europe in the ancient era. No, this is not an unprecedented or impossible task. It’s quite doable.
The Wall won’t work because… planes.
Actually it has nothing to do with planes, insofar as those with legal visas can come in via other means also (boats, cars, etc…). It is spun as “planes fly over walls, you stupid pleb.” It’s just a rhetorical trick designed to make the viewer feel stupid.
But in any event, this argument discusses the illegals who are overstaying their visas. True, the Wall won’t do anything about these illegals per se. But if the Wall is accompanied by more rigorous deportation and enforcement, then the number of this type of illegal alien should be reduced. Then, of course, the Wall will serve to keep them out if they try to come back. Supposing, of course, we have the good sense to deny future visas to those who have already proven untrustworthy with them.
The Wall won’t work because of impassible terrain.
Mountains are shown on the video, and the wall cannot go over them, it is said. True, to some extent anyway. There are terrain features that would impede the construction of the Wall. But, it should be noted that such impassable terrain is no picnic for the illegals either. In this sense, Mother Nature will do the trick where the bulldozers cannot go. Or, put it in more simplistic terms: which is easier to get over, a mountain or a Wall?
The Wall won’t work because of a revolving door.
A Princeton professor is trotted out, and his theory is presented. He tells us that the open border is a revolving door, insofar as some illegals come in, while others leave to return to Mexico. And if, he says, the Wall is built, it will stop that flow. Then all the illegals currently here will be trapped here.
This contradicts the earlier argument that the Wall won’t work. After all, if the Wall doesn’t work, how could it stop illegals from coming and going? In essence, he’s actually saying the Wall will work.
Never mind the obvious fact that if the Princeton professor were correct, the level of illegal immigrants in the United States should stay relatively consistent over the years. Except that it hasn’t. Ann Coulter demonstrated this aptly in Adios America. The number is definitely increasing, so even if some do go back, clearly more are coming in than are leaving. Close the door by building the Wall and you will stop the increase.
Mitt Romney discussed something like this in the 2012 campaign. He wanted greater penalties levied against companies caught hiring illegals, in order to get them to self-deport back across the border. So even if there is some truth to this, the solution is simple: enforce the laws as Romney suggested while the Wall is still being built. And allow them to go back without interference. You can even advertise this as a service. Are you an illegal who wants to go home? We will provide secure, safe transportation for you and your family back to your home country. This way you can get the benefits of both ideas.
The number of Border Patrol apprehensions is at an all-time low.
Perhaps this is true. It appears to be, anyway. The question is why? Is it because of reduced enforcement? Is it because of a temporary condition, such as fluctuations in the economies of both the United States and Mexico? The makes of the video want you to assume this is because less immigrants are coming through today, and then tell you to project that amount indefinitely into the future. This is fallacious in the extreme. Even if the number of illegals has dropped off considerably, it is still a very large number, and there is no guarantee it won’t increase tomorrow.
Other arguments against the Wall.
The video skips over some other common arguments against the Wall, some of which actually have some merit (certainly more than the claims made in the video).
Illegals will just dig tunnels, or jump over the Wall.
There is some truth to this. However, scaling the Wall, or digging underneath the Wall takes a lot more effort than merely crossing an empty space. Of course, this depends greatly on the design of the Wall. Penn Jillette released a video many years ago (which appears to be gone now – I couldn’t find it) where he built a scale mockup of the then-proposed border wall, then hired some Mexicans to get around it as quickly as they could. It took the Mexicans less than 5 minutes to scale it, or dig under it. It was a shitty design. Some of the existing border fences are even easier to scale. But if you look the border fence in question, it’s an even crappier design than the one proposed by the Bush administration.
So the Wall should incorporate design features to make casual scaling and tunneling harder. It needs to go deeper into the ground, be taller, solid, and incorporate features like razor wire or other deterrents. Most importantly, designs should be mocked up and tested, to see how much time is required to defeat them. Experiment with this, and find an ideal balance of cost and design features.
It will not prevent all illegal immigration, but it doesn’t have to, just like locking your car door doesn’t prevent all theft, but certainly discourages casual thieves, and can increase the time and effort needed by more experienced thieves. If it takes longer to scale or tunnel under the Wall, that gives Border Patrol more time to discover them, and will reduce the number who make the attempt in the first place.
But this is a legitimate gripe. This must be designed and built properly, or else it will be a waste of money. And it must also be accompanied by more active border security measures.
The Wall will hurt the American economy.
This is the usual “who will pick our fruit for cheap” argument. It neglects the overall cost of an illegal immigrant, which includes not only their wages, but all the welfare state services they use, and the net drain on the American economy. To the farmer, it may seem like a good deal, because they are cheaper and often work better than bored teenagers, who used to bolster the ranks of cheap seasonal farmhands and random handymen. But when the taxpayer’s subsidy is taken into account, the deal is much less attractive. I’ll have to go over the figures in more detail for a future post, but at the very least, the wage difference will be partially accounted for, and perhaps entirely accounted for.
Besides, who really gets benefit from this? A few farmers and corporations using off-the-books employees, or looking the other way to save a few bucks, are getting all of the benefit, while the taxpayer subsidizes the cost. This is why it’s sometimes hard to mobilize Republicans to do anything about it. Democrats want more votes, and some Republicans want the subsidized labor. As mentioned earlier in this post, if the Wall works, we’re going to realize some savings in welfare spending. Still, we can expect some kind of additional economic impact from border security. Whether it will be a net positive or a net negative for the economy, I cannot say for certain. There are too many variables to account for. And I don’t really trust anybody who is too sure about this.
But either way, it will be a net gain from a national security angle, from an immigration and cultural assimilation angle, and is, in any event, part of what defines one nation as separate from another in the first place. If your border is really porous, you have de facto open borders. If you have open borders, you don’t really have a country. It’s just a geographical expression on a map, a polite fiction and no more.