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.

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Posted by Manu Belmonte

Economics major at NC State University

2 Comments

  1. Remaining Patriot February 1, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    1. From my understanding the 20% tax applies to Mexicans, not Americans.
    2. We can use cosmic or seismic waves to detect tunnels, if anyone is able to get across we either shoot or deport them.
    3. If any drone, plane, etc, gets past the wall we follow it or shoot it down since it’s in our air-space.
    4. We already spend around $113 billion on illegal aliens, $15-25 billion is about a fifth of the cost. There’s no need to complain about the money being wasted if we do this because it’s cheaper than our current system. We can’t defend our borders for free.
    5. We can’t be the dumping ground for foreign refugees. There are over a million homeless in the U.S., the last thing we need to let more people in. Organizations similar to ISIS can infiltrate the refugees, just like they have in Europe. If they want help, they can stay in their own country, and can pay us to help them deal with the threat; our services cost us money.
    6. I’m going to remove every door and window on my house, when some comes in to rob or murder me, I’ll offer them a trade a deal, that sure to work out, right?

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    1. Eco Libertarian February 1, 2017 at 9:03 pm

      1) tariffs are paid by domestic consumers (Americans), but the negative effects hurt both us and Mexicans
      2) Seismic waves detect seismic activity (i.e., earthquakes) and cosmic waves are radation from the sun.
      3) you’re aware all the drone does is fly in, make the drop, fly out. By the time you send someone to shoot it down it’s gone. If we couldn’t stop aero drop offs in Florida back in the 90s, drones are nearly unstoppable.
      4) deporting 11 million people would cost $114 billion (https://www.google.com/search?q=how+much+would+it+cost+to+deport+12+million+people&oq=how+much+would+it+cost+to+deport+12+million+people&aqs=chrome..69i57.10661j0j4&client=ms-android-hms-tmobile-us&sourceid=chrome-mobile&ie=UTF-8). There’s also the positive externalities of cheap labor and consumption that aren’t directly reflected.
      5) immigration and homelessness have absolutely no correlation, housing construction and immigration have a positive relationship. “It is not because one man keeps a coach, while his neighbor walks a-foot, that one is rich and the other is poor; but because one is rich he keeps a coach, and the other is poor that he walks afoot” (Wealth of Nations pg.93). Also name one instance where a radical Islamist entered through the southern border ever in our history.
      6) straw man fallacy.

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