Trump’s plan to secure the national border and stem illegal immigration is to build a wall and have “Mexico pay for it.” The reality is that Americans will be paying for the wall because he intends to fund it with a 20% tax on Mexican imports. But walls will just fuel the demand for latters or create more tunnels between the two countries. “El Chapo” is renowned for using tunnels to smuggle drugs and escape from maximum security prisions.
Realistically the wall will do a little more to deter immigration and nothing to stop the billion dollar flow of drugs into the country. Already Cartels have been experimenting with drones to fly over into the country. Then there’s cost, the government estimates it’ll be anywhere from $15 to $25 billion to build the wall. Or in Milton Friedman’s words, $15-$25 billion drained from the economy. And again we’ll be paying for it at our grocery stores, hurting the poor the most.
“Who cares if we have to pay higher prices for avocados?” some may say. Well for those are more well off, affording basic goods may not be a problem. But due to high economic illiteracy in the country, many pundits on both sides of the spectrum leave out the role of supply chains. Trade with Mexico is not one way, a lot of the mechanical parts that are used to assemble cars in Mexico are first manufactured here. In fact roughly 5 million American jobs are dependent on trade with Mexico.
There’s also the fact that the wall, if it is payed by a tariff, will be counterproductive to stop illegal immigration. Less Mexican immigrants have entered the United States do to improving economic conditions in there home countries, the number has gone even lower after the financial crisis to a net negative as more Mexicans left than entered the country. Most illegals nowadays are minors from Central American nations like Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador trying to primarily escape the violence of the war on drugs in their home countries.
So a real and more practical solution to stemming the flow of illegal migrants is not to erect counterproductive walls, instead it’s two-fold: end the war on drugs and facilitate economic development through free trade. Both of which would be mutually beneficial, socially and economically.