Immigration

White nationalists salivate over the prospect of a Trump win. They believe that he will deal with the ‘problem’ of immigration. He will rid the country of raping Mexicans and peace will descend across white America. I don’t know what happens to non-white American citizens in this fantasy. Not that it matters – the wall is a unicorn. And Trump’s plan a mirage. Let’s have a look

He promises mass deportations – but how? A deportation force going door to door? Checkpoints? Sweeps of workplaces? Rewards to citizens for tattling? Any way you slice it, the civil liberties of American citizens will take a beating.

There are 11.4 million undocumented aliens – a number equal to the populations of Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, North Dakota, Alaska, Vermont, Wyoming added together – plus another 700,000 people.

How do you identify undocumented aliens? You can’t just round up brown skins. Five-five million Americans are Hispanics. Free to be left alone and constitutionally protected.

No matter what the nature Trump’s plan, he will still have to hire 1,000s of enforcement personal. Let’s do some math. If his plan is a two-year project, it would require the removal of 15,600 people every day. That requires not just new foot soldiers for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), but also new supervisors, vehicles, administrative facilities, weapons, holding facilities – even office supplies. And that’s not the end.

It would also require new judges, courts, and jails. Add to that plane tickets and other transportation.

Then what would we do with undocumented parents of American kids? Are we really the country that breaks up families? And what about people who fled from Guatemala and other high crime, high murder countries? Are Americans comfortable – would it fit in with their morality – to put people in harm’s way?

And this daily count assumes that no new undocumented were entering the country. Which brings us to Trump’s wall.

We must dispense with the nonsense that Mexico will pay for it. Trump’s reasoning is this: People in America wire $24 billion to Mexico every year. Trump says he will stop those transfers unless Mexico makes a one-time payment of $5-10 billion. However, no one knows how much of this money is sent by citizens, who are entitled to do with their money as they wish.

Should the undocumented be barred from making direct transfers, they would simply find a different way . They could use citizens as agents. Or wire it to Canada first. Or physically mail the cash to Mexico. And that’s just for starters.

Plan B is raising fees on visas – which will just decrease Mexican tourism with a concomitant decline in tourist spending.

Plan C is using America’s $50 billion annual trade with Mexico deficit to finance the project. But trade is primarily conducted by the private sector. If Trump buys suits from a manufacturer in Mexico, he pays the manufacturer – not the Mexican government. Of course, if President Trump repealed NAFTA then America would be free to charge tariffs on Mexican goods. However, consumer prices would rise. The Mexican economy would decline. And more Mexicans would come to the US. An expensive and counter-productive measure.

Even Trump himself is watering down his wall demands. Now he is saying we will build and pay for it first. And then send Mexico a bill. Which Mexico will treat with the same contempt Trump treated his sub-contractors’ bills.

As Americans would get stuck with paying for the wall, we have to ask what a border wall would cost. Trump’s estimate is $5-10 billion. Experts say that is wildly optimistic – $25 billion seems more realistic. Even that doesn’t include land acquisitions, maintenance, or staffing.

Just making the concrete slabs would require the construction of hundreds of concrete plants. In turn imagine the roads needed.

And when the wall is up and running, does anyone think it is going to work? History shows that when there is a demand for something entrepreneurs find a way to supply it. Even prisoners in supermax prisons can get their hands on contraband. Smugglers will dig tunnels. Bribe guards. And hack electronic surveillance.

As with every government boondoggle, there will be winners – corporate America will make a fortune. And losers – the taxpayers will take a beating. Politicians will spend other people’s money, but the people will re-elect them regardless.

So let’s raise a glass and make a toast: “To dumb ideas.”

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Who would build Trump’s fantasy wall?

 

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