The belief that a wall on the border between Mexico and the United States is something that will help the US is a highly contentious idea. But, in order to accurately gauge whether or not the proposed 5 to 20 billion that would be spent on building the Wall is a good investment, one must look at the situation objectively. Would a wall work, in that, would it actually manage to stop people from crossing into the US illegally via the border? And also, are illegal immigrants even that much of an issue?
Fortunately, here in Australia we possess the luxury of being an island, the largest single island nation in fact. However, the overwhelming majority of other countries aren’t and have to debate the idea of surrounding all or certain parts of their borders with some kind of barrier, i.e. a fence or wall.
Two countries that have recently erected fences and walls around certain parts of their borders are Hungary and Israel, among many others. Both did it for a variety of similar and dissimilar reasons.
Hungary, in the last few years, was coping with the largest movement of people across its borders since World War 2 and sought out a way to stop them entering the country illegally. A fence across its southern border did the job effectively and stopped over 99% of people that were managing to cross the border.
Israel, similarly, sought out a way to stop people from crossing a part of their border undetected, but was also dealing with terrorist attacks from people that had crossed illegally and had to find a way to prevent them from entering the country. A barrier that’s part wall and fence was erected that successfully stopped the overwhelming majority of illegal movement into Israel from certain parts.
These two examples prove the effectiveness of a well-built, maintained and manned wall/fence in stopping illegal movement across borders. However, the US’s border with Mexico is obviously much larger than the areas Hungary and Israel erected barriers around, but considering the resources and funds the US has, the distance shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
If a wall would be successful in preventing illegal border crossings, or at least cutting them down to a more manageable number, then the next question is, why even do it in the first place?
Estimates vary, but according to a recent Yale study there are over 22 million illegal immigrants in the US currently. And according to the Centre for Immigration Studies or CIS, each illegal immigrant will cost between $70,000 and $135,000 USD over the course of their lifetime. This means that for every 1 million illegal immigrants the cost associated with them is over $70 billion USD.
I’m not advocating for the immediate deportation of every single illegal immigrant or disparaging their struggles or even saying there’s no such thing as a genuine refugee among them, because I’m sure there is. And I’m also sure there are plenty of constructive illegal immigrants who genuinely have something to add to American society.
But, the numbers are clear, in that illegal immigration costs the US billions of dollars per year withholding the fact that drugs, cartel members and other illicit substances are also brought across the border illegally, which just brings other costs with it, especially in terms of incarceration and dealing with an increase in crime. And the idea that there will be no negative consequences to allowing anyone to cross the border without any form of background checks or official documentation is just brain-numbingly ridiculous.
It is a perfectly reasonable position to hold, that allowing anyone in is just not prudent or safe, and maintaining border security should be paramount when considering any countries safety. And the US can’t take in, nor can any other country for that matter, just about anyone who thinks the grass might be greener on the other side.
I genuinely sympathise with anyone who wants a better life and is willing to go through pain and hardship to attain it, but I believe there are more prudent ways of helping those people.
The unfortunate reality is such that should countries like the US take in large amounts of immigrants, especially illegally, and poorly manage the process, the living standards of the recent immigrants and those already there will decrease significantly, and a myriad of other issues will arise.
And as Trump, in the last few days, has declared a national emergency over the Democrats refusal to allow any funding to be directed to the wall, this issue is going to continue to be in the spotlight for the foreseeable future should no compromise be found.