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Why increasing border security won’t decrease illegal immigration

Overview: This article presents an opinion on Mr. trump’s wall and why we think it might not have the desired effect.

People in political positions often say that increasing border security or building a wall (Can you guess who it is?) will decrease illegal immigration from Mexico. However, this statement is a fallacy and ignores several realistic expectations that will come when doing such a thing.

A small fence separates densely populated Tijuana, Mexico, right, from the United States in the Border Patrol’s San Diego Sector. Construction is underway to extend a secondary fence over the top of this hill and eventually to the Pacific Ocean.

 

First of all, building a wall will be a prohibitively expensive project to build. It will cost billions on billions of dollars.

Building a wall will not even be effective as all of the reasons mentioned below also apply to this scenario. It will probably be worse because it’s more expensive.

On the softer side, increasing border security won’t cost billions and billions of dollars, but it might not be as effective as you think.

This is because the unauthorized immigrant population in the United States has been declining since 2007. The unauthorized immigrant population in the United States was 12.2 million in 2007 and is 10.5 million in 2017.

Wall prototypes being presented to President Trump in San Diego, March 2018

Public opinion also seems extremely soft for illegal immigration as only 29% of Americans viewed increased deportation of unauthorized immigrants as very important in 2017. Also, “patrolling the borders” misses a key point: Airplanes. Most immigrants come here on planes.

Terrorism has been on a decline in the US and there have been no terrorist attacks for the past years in the US. This is because of the increased number of security measures the government has put in place since 9/11. Most of these security measures lie in airport security.

President Donald Trump displays a signed Executive Order at the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, January 25, 2017. President Trump signed two Executive Orders to aid in Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements, and to Enhance Public Safety in the Interior of the United States. 

 

The truth is that increasing border security will never stop illegal immigration. Why not? Because it is estimated that about 40% of illegal immigrants came to the US on planes. American people and politicians have a misconception that illegal immigrants “sneak over the border.” In reality that’s a ridiculously small minority.

Simply sneaking over the border would be a straight highway to death for illegal immigrants and terrorists. In the case of illegal immigrants, it’s most likely that they came here legally through passport control and then just overstayed their visas.

President Donald Trump stands in front of a section of border wall near Yuma, Arizona, June 2020

In the case of terrorists, they would have to think of way more creative ways to get to the US and a lot of them have really strong connections or think of something that leverages a security fault.

The point is that things are always way more complicated than just “illegal immigrants and terrorists sneak over the border, so just increase border patrol.” Where taxpayer money should be spent is on better security infrastructure and intelligence.

This is because border control is already where it should be. No one can get through the border unless they have extremely strong connections. But you might be saying that even if almost half of the illegal immigrants come to the US in airplanes, that still means that we can stop the other half by increasing border patrol.

Construction continues on new border wall system project near Yuma, AZ. Recently constructed border wall near Yuma, Arizona on June 3, 2020. CBP photo by Jerry Glaser.

 

Here’s the problem with this, it’s because of something called circular flow. Circular flow means that for the most part, immigration into the US had people come, work for a bit, and then go back home to their families.

When the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations drastically raised border patrol due to public opinion, they stopped that circular flow. 

This resulted in them not keeping people out but keeping people in. Eventually, it got harder and harder to go back and forth, so the people crossing the border decided that they’d be much better off just staying in the US.

On 06-19-1019 construction crews continue work on the replacement border wall on the boundary between the United States and Mexico near the Calexico Port of Entry.

If an immigrant wants to go back to their country, they know that they won’t be able to come back to the US to work because of the broader control. This resulted in immigrants deciding to just stay in the US.

This singular decision caused the undocumented immigrants living in the United States to skyrocket by 248%. So, we have already tried this before and it only made things worse.

What Should You Take Away From This? 

But then I hope you leave this article with the height and understanding of border security and where your tax dollars should be spent. A lot of politics in this country is ruled by emotions and people should take objective decisions when it comes to their vote.

An age-old analogy is that you have to choose between two pilots with whom you will be flying. Pilot A says, “I will fly the plane at the right elevation set by the airplanes security standards.” Pilot B says “I will give you a free business class ticket.” 

Most people will end up picking pilot B because they make decisions based on emotions. This is US politics in a perfect nutshell. When people make objective decisions on their vote, is when democracy truly shines.

(Left) A Build The Wall rally in The Villages, Florida on January 2019. (Right) A protest of the wall in 2016

As we all know, US politics is a mess right now. This could be due to a lot of factors like inflation and the pandemic. Democracy is not perfect but at least it is sustainable. Communism and fascism or dictatorships are all a wild goose chase.

The people in power are always afraid that they might lose it, this doesn’t happen in a democracy. This fright later turns into anger and erupts, causing death and suffering everywhere.

 

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Ishmeet K
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