Ever since the U.S. election of 2016 the issue of illegal immigration has been a hot topic. It was a major talking point on the campaign trail for Presidential candidate Donald J. Trump, and the slogan “Who’s going to pay for the new border wall with Mexico?” could be heard numerous times during his campaign stops.
The rhetoric died down soon after Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the new President since reality started kicking in on several fronts. For one, Mexico wasn’t going to wire the U.S. Treasury any money for constructing this wall. They made that clear on numerous occasions. Secondly, U.S. Congress, not the President, can allocate funding for construction of a new wall, and that legislative initiative isn’t very high on the GOP agenda – not for Paul Ryan in the U.S. House, nor for Mitch McConnell in the Senate. Simple put, there are other pressing issues the GOP would like to see passed through congress such healthcare repeal & replace, and tax reform.
It’s possible this might eventually be added to a full congressional budget, but the last few years haven’t been very promising in congress being able to show any bipartisanship in getting that done. We constantly end up with stop-gap measures, which don’t resolve the long-term pressing issues, and only serve to keep the Federal government churning along for a few more months. Therefore, any new drastic spending measures (i.e. new border wall) are being pushed out for future consideration – again, and again…
Then there’s also the reality of a border wall. Only Israel has had recent historical success in putting up a big wall in order to stop people, and or goods (weapons) from entering into Israeli territory. But the Israelis haven’t had to deal with a rivers, and mountains; in other words, impossible terrain to construct a border wall. There’s also the issue of private property, wherein private citizens actually have property on the border. The optics of taking away private property to build a border wall won’t go over well for the President. So in short, constructing a border wall on the Mexican border is easier said than done!
So what can we do to protect our nation from criminals, terrorists, and drugs/weapons from entering our country through this porous border?
Stepped up electronic surveillance is one solution. There are many high-tech tools out there that can assist border patrol with apprehending suspects, and thus reducing the need to add another costly 5,000 border agents to the region. Of course, adding costly border agents would be a second option, but recently the border patrol has had trouble filling the positions they have now, so adding 5,000 new positions may become a logistic nightmare for them and might be untenable.
What does work, and is proven to work, is the simple fact that when economic conditions improve in neighboring countries the crime rate goes down, and subsequent illegal migration goes down with it. So, it would be in the U.S.’ best interest to foster economic conditions in Central America through trade agreements that would grow the GDP in those countries, and with distribution of wealth help reduce poverty and increase the size of the middle class. Then those citizens won’t be desperate to leave their home country in search for better economic conditions in the U.S.
One way of fostering better economic conditions is through expanding the NAFTA agreement, and include other Central American nations, outside of just Mexico. Also, invest in education, and infrastructure. Better highways connecting those countries, and rail, seaports, and airports will go a long way in getting those GDP numbers rising. In turn the immigration rate will drop dramatically from 300k per year down to less than 50k, which at that point becomes manageable with the current number of patrol agents and better technology. On top of that we can continue to enjoy the beauty of the Rio Grande without having to stare at an ugly concrete or steel border wall…