Do walls work?

To be clear, I do not favor building the Trump Wall (at all), still I am willing to present relevant evidence when it appears. Here is the abstract of a new paper by Benjamin Feigenberg:

This paper estimates the impact of the US-Mexico border fence on US-Mexico migration by exploiting variation in the timing and location of US government investment in fence construction. Using Mexican survey data and data I collected on fence construction, I find that construction in a municipality reduces migration by 27 percent for municipality residents and 15 percent for residents of adjacent municipalities. In addition, construction reduces migration by up to 35 percent from non-border municipalities. I also find that construction induces migrants to substitute toward alternative crossing locations, disproportionately deters low-skilled migrants, and reduces the number of undocumented Mexicans in the United States.

That is from American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, you should be able to click through the captcha and get to the paper.

Comments

I always found the argument that walls "don't work" to be an odd one. If they don't work then you shouldn't be so upset about building them, right? They worked for Israel, they worked for Hungary, to use some recent examples.

"If they don't work then you shouldn't be so upset about building them, right?"

That is strikingly bad logic. In a practical sense because it's wasting funds that could go to something that could actually work; and in a symbolic sense because it would still serve as a monument to xenophobia.

The bulk of the people opposed to border walls don't care about the cost; they care about the symbolism based on their own tortured logic that is somehow 'xenophobic' to make it more difficult to break the law (only a handful of libertarian ideologues actually believe that unfettered open borders is desirable).

Ideological Turing Test failed.

The Berlin Wall was porous?

In other areas Tyler Cowen discusses state incompetence, state capacity, and rule of law.

MIT estimates more than 20 million illegal residents within the US. The US labor force is about 160 million. Perhaps one out of every eight workers is in the US illegally, an escapee from Third World economic opportunities.

It seems rather callous to dismiss the effect that such an import of labor would have on domestic labor markets, particularly those in the bottom half of such markets.

Yeah, the harm of illegal consumers to businesses is far worse!

When a business sells to an illegal consumer houses for $50,000, the businesses are deprived of selling that house to a legal consumer for $40,000.

You are correct in that immigration in combination with property zoning does lead to higher property prices.

The irony is that those opposed to the wall are opposed because the walls work.

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"The Berlin Wall was porous?"

The United States already had the equivalent of the Berlin Wall years before Trump was elected. Major population centers along the border either had border walls or the Rio Grande river. This is combined with surveillance and inland Border Patrol checkpoints. The challenge has always been what to do about the hundreds of miles of the border that runs through sparsely populated areas. Berlin it is not.

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OBAMAcare

More asinine logic: pointing out that A wasted money does not somehow imply that B wasting money is magically not a waste of money.

If someone's sole argument against your idea is that it's a waste of money, it is certainly a legitimate argument to point out they have no problem with even larger wastes of money, so their opposition is probably not actually based on the fiscal responsibility they temporarily pretend to preach.

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My impression was that the people opposed to it would be much less upset about it if they honestly thought it would not work, because they were very pro-illegal immigrant.

Nobody would get out of bed for $5B and the "monument" concern doesn't seem genuine either since there are far more existing border barriers, and such barriers are of course commonplace.

My take was that really they wanted lots of illegal immigrants but that's a bit of an awkward argument to make to the mainstream, so they just made whatever argument was available without regard to whether they believed in it or it made sense.

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“monument to xenophobia.”? Yes like the lock on my front door is a sculpture to racism. 🙄

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Maybe you should ask the Chinese how well their wall worked.

The walls in Chinese history were sometimes successful at their stated purpose but in the grand scheme of Chinese civilization can only be seen as monumental failures. Most of the surviving Great Wall was built by the same Ming Dynasty that was scrapping its exploration programs and even banning private navigation. China would have been much better off building ships like the European powers, which would have at least allowed colonization of Australia and perhaps even the West Coast of the Americas, which would have relieved the population pressure that ultimately resulted in the peasant rebellions at the end of the Ming Dynasty. Ultimately, the wall failed when Ming generals opened the gates to the Manchus, deciding that they were the lesser evil than the peasants revolting due to the poverty that was caused in part by building the wall and failure to explore outwards.

A lesser known wall in Chinese history was when the Qing Dynasty built walls in Manchuria to prevent Han immigration into Manchuria. These walls were successful at limiting immigration into Manchuria (at least until the Qing Dynasty began to collapse), but was again a strategic disaster for the Qing as Manchuria suddenly became an agriculturally rich but underpopulated land that became easy pickings for Russia and Japan.

It’s sad to see China repeating these mistakes today, with the Great Firewall, which is succeeding at its goal of information control but again significantly weakening China in the grand scheme of things by being a major barrier to foreign business ties.

But at least China got a nice tourist attraction out of its walls. That’s an important lesson—if we’re going to have a wall, make sure it looks nice for posterity.

In the 2700 year since the great was started China has been conquered by foreigners only twice (and both times they rapidly assimilated the invaders). There is no other country with similar continuity. History shows wall work.

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Of course walls do work. It is really absurd to suggest that they don't work.

It is, of course, a question of enforcement. But when a state really wants to, walls do work extremely "well". Example here:

http://archiv.nationalatlas.de/?p=1494

Walls have failed constantly and consistently. They are costly static defensive structures that, once breached, tend to leave the defenders unable to mount a credible counterattack. The Great Wall of China and the Maginot Line are great examples.

The great wall of China was superbly successful from a historical perspective. Over it's 2700 history there were only two successful invasions.

And if anything the lesson from WW2 is that USA should build the wall. Hitler did not go over the maginot line, he went around it.

Peter A. compares two different purposes that have nothing to do with each other. Border fortifications for military reasons have not been very effective for thousands of years, I assume because military forces have the time and the resources to bypass them.

Border constructions that are designed to prevent migration are very effective. This has been proven in practice over and over again, see Berlin Wall etc.

Peter A. should simply name a wall that has not effectively prevented migration. Just look at the numbers at the Berlin Wall, it's really sick.

Yet the historical record shows that the Great Wall of China was very successful both at stopping invasion and immigration.

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Mexican border wall is not intended to keep Guderian and his Panzerkorps out, but (mostly) unarmed civilians who want to pass unnoticed. Comparing those two is sophistry.
The Israelis failed with Bar Lev Line, but are fairly successful with the West Bank Barrier.

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Anonymous asks how a wall possibly "can't" work?

Well, on the surface that's a good question. Any wall will reduce migration. But was migration your original goal?

I know my disagreement was at a different level. That is, would the wall protect "good jobs" as originally promised?

I also find that construction induces migrants to substitute toward alternative crossing locations, disproportionately deters low-skilled migrants, and reduces the number of undocumented Mexicans in the United States

Maybe not, and maybe it primarily impacts things like chicken plants.

If it didn't protect "good jobs" maybe it was both a waste of money and a source of opportunity costs.

Who knows, maybe the same money spent of "green jobs" would have brought more good jobs and lasting ROI. All those solar megawatts ..

Personally I am pro-wall because I am in favor of a high level of legal immigration on a points basis, like Canada or Australia. That certainly will not "protect" good jobs but it will create them. If illegal immigration was much lower, the appetite for high-skilled immigration would be much higher I think.

I also support points-based immigration (pro-skills, no matter how out of favor that may be today), but I fail to see how limiting low skills illegal immigration was a necessary first step.

If you want points based, pro-skills, immigration that could have been Step One.

Another opportunity cost?

Or does the one-two attack on illegal and then legal immigration mean something else was going on, all along?

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The US government builds walls/fences/border barriers all over the country and world to protect things that it believes are worth protecting (as does every other government and business in the world). To me that says that they work.

The U.S. also shares two sea borders with Mexico. We know from the experience of Europe and Australia as well as the U.S.'s own experience of Cuban and Haitian migrants that the sea is not necessarily a deterrent for illegal migration. Of course, it can be mitigated with more Coast Guard patrol but then you can just as easily imagine that the desert and wasteland parts of the U.S.-Mexico border can be monitored by drones.

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What is meant by "work" Some deterred immigrants add value others subtract value.

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Do walls work?

Ask every civilization since the Fertile Crescent.

Asking the SED and all the loyal citizens of the DDR about how well their wall worked.

Especially after some crazed hardcore leftist meddler said this - "General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev...Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

That was a prison wall, and very effective in its day.

It would be a good comparison if it was Mexico building the wall.

Since the question was about its effectiveness: good comparison.

But Gorbachev did not tear down that wall.
It was over a decade from the Reagan speech until the wall came down.
By that time neither Gorbachev nor Reagan still were in office.

Given this, can you still credit that speech with the wall coming down?
Or is your comment just pure propaganda?

Speech: June 12, 1987
Wall fall: November 9, 1989

Reagan was not in office anymore, but Gorbachev most certainly was. Given this, what can we say about your comment?

Actually, the date you listed is when the DDR allowed free travel across the border. It took a couple of more years before the wall was physically destroyed. But, a good smack down.

If we want to get really technical (and we do!), parts of the wall still stand, so it never really went down :)

But the wall stopped functioning as a wall on that date.

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'Or is your comment just pure propaganda?'

Yes, I do actually believe that Reagan was the victor in the Cold War. Don't you?

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I visited a museum for the Berlin wall in Berlin and was a little surprised that that speech was never referenced. I guess that might be my US-centric bias at play to think it should be there

The Germans tend to the matter as being more local, in comparison to cold warriors in the West and Russia.

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From their perspective, it was the people of Berlin who tore down the wall. Lots of local developments also had to occur in the right order such as Hungary opening its border with Austria and the police and military in East Germany agreeing to stand down.

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'That was a prison wall, and very effective in its day.'

For less than 30 years, until the inmates tore it out down. They defunded the guards too.

Anybody want to guess how long the Korean 'wall' will last?

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> Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

That was a wall to keep people in. Those are very different that walls to keep people out.

Yes, walls work.

The Berlin Wall was also there to keep West Berliners out of East Germany... that’s why there had to be the Berlin Airlift to get around it and keep West Berlin in contact with the outside world.

It was a prison for some (East Germans) and an intended provocation to others (the free world) and a statement of intent, too.

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The Berlin Blockade was in 1948. Construction began on the Berlin wall in 1961. Exit visa to go to the West did not begin until 1952, but even then did not completely restrict travel through Berlin. And even when it went up the GDR was normally quite free with letting West Berliners in as they desperately needed the hard currency.

The GDR propaganda may have said this was to keep out Western intelligence agents and the like, but nobody seriously believed it and actual GDR border policy reflected that.

Certainly it is beyond ignorant to suggest that the wall had anything to do with the Berlin Airlift.

The Wall was a ten year later response to the problem that the Berlin Blockade was unable to stop. The chronology is clear (the Wall most certainly did not cause the Berlin Airlift), but both were a part of the Soviets constructing their East European Iron Curtain, which lasted less than 50 years.

And was utterly unsuccessful in keeping out free markets and free movement in former vassal states. Though it did manage to make those vassals states considerably poorer over the time the Iron Curtain existed.

The Berlin Blockade was not an attempt to stop the exit of East Germans from the GDR. At that time you could literally walk from East to West and pretty much the entire GDR train network hubbed through West Berlin. Rather the Blockade was the Soviets hoping to seize West Berlin. Realizing how war weary the West was, the Soviets hoped to force the West into either surrendering West Berlin or having to be the "aggressors" in a military conflict the Soviets thought would be unpopular. The Airlift, in turn, showed that the West would not be cowed into surrendering the population of West Berlin, that it had a very robust air force, and that it was willing to incur massive expenses to stand up to the Soviets.

1952 is when the Soviets and the GDR wised up that if they did nothing, the population of the GDR would all be gone to the West. That is when the Inner German Border went up and when the control regime started. The Berlin Wall was notably absent not because the GDR was dumb or clueless, but because it took a decade to complete the Berlin rail bypass.

The Berlin wall was always about keeping East Germans in. It was the result of decisions made in 52 and was completely predictable.

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Prior should visit Checkpoint Charlie (now a tourist site) to see that it took great ingenuity to slip by the checkpoint. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Checkpoint_Charlie
And the Berlin Wall:

"With the closing of the east–west sector boundary in Berlin, the vast majority of East Germans could no longer travel or emigrate to West Germany. Berlin soon went from being the easiest place to make an unauthorized crossing between East and West Germany to being the most difficult." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_Wall

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2 days max and we will see a twitter mob led by Justin Wolfers calling for the resignation of the editor.

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Sure, at the margin fewer Mexicans will come to America. But the cost will exceed the cost of the wall. How so? One, labor. I don't know about other places, but down here Mexican labor builds most buildings. And they work seven days a week. And they are reliable. Meth is a huge problem down here. But not among Mexicans. Two, trade. While China is building transit to connect with their neighbors, America is building a damn wall. Jeepers! Whatever the cost of the wall, it will pale in comparison to the long-term costs to the American economy.

rayward, you need to embrace your inner Keynesian.

But we do want trade with other countries.

What the wall is about is preventing or slowing a certain kind of trade. Trade that Trump and many other don’t want.

What’s the trade Trump doesn’t want?

Who comes across the border? The most helpless and desperate? Maybe. But also the most vicious. And the most enterprising. We want some but not others. If only there was a way of vetting immigrants!

So they send people we don’t want, and ten or twenty years down the road we send them aid to help their completely failed socialist economic experiment. That’s the “trade” Trump presumably doesn’t want. Fair enough, it’s a valid position.

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Plenty of low-skilled, unemployed black workers to do those jobs. Is there some reason you don't wish to hire them?

Doing immigration paperwork for workers is hard, expensive, and risky. Companies are profit-maximizing entities and aren’t going to go through that hassle if there are adequate domestic workers available.

But even an “unskilled” job requires someone who is going to show up on time, not steal things or start fights with co-workers or customers, and have basic competence at following instructions. When you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel in any society, a lot of people are not going to meet those requirements.

So you are saying certain swaths of the lower classes do not have the beneficial characteristics that Ray mentioned in his original post? If so, why is this the case?

1) U.S. education system is terrible for most poor people. 2) The extremely high incarceration rate in this country compared to any other rich country in the world; it locks people out of employment, keeps the incarcerated from obtaining skills and experience necessary to hold a normal, and contributes to a generational cascade of unemployability.

"1) U.S. education system is terrible for most poor people."

What is the basis for this?

"2) The extremely high incarceration rate in this country compared to any other rich country in the world; it locks people out of employment, keeps the incarcerated from obtaining skills and experience necessary to hold a normal, and contributes to a generational cascade of unemployability."

Is it your belief that in the U.S., the police routinely frame poor people with crimes they did not commit? Or that in other countries, the same offenders would be released without prison time?

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"It would work but illegal immigration is good for the economy"?

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All hail Justin Wolfers and his strong sense of justice!!!

Her google "scholar" page is here.

https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=25mrtUcAAAAJ&hl=en

Titles include..

"Check Yo'self before You Wreck Yo'self and Our Kids: Counterstories from Culturally Responsive White Teachers?... To Culturally Responsive White Teachers!."

-"Breakin’down whiteness in antiracist teaching: Introducing critical whiteness pedagogy"

-“Why do you make me hate myself?”: Re-teaching Whiteness, abuse, and love in urban teacher education

-"Loving whiteness to death: Sadomasochism, emotionality, and the possibility of humanizing love"

-"White skin, black friend: A Fanonian application to theorize racial fetish in teacher education"

-"Dirty dancing with race and class: Microaggressions toward first-generation and low income college students of color"

-"Not I: The Narcissism of Whiteness"

By Matt T.

https://taibbi.substack.com/p/on-white-fragility

Well, there’s one Matt Taibbi... and many College instructors of Intersectionality. And many, many students who are listening.

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For better or worse, walls already exist along the border that are populated and accessible. From a *purely* migration standpoint (no matter your view) it really doesn't matter whether the wall is extended or not. Essentially all of the benefits/harms that walls provide are already being provided.

Knowing that 1) The Wall is Trump's single biggest priority, and 2) it really doesn't have an effect either way, I've long wondered whether Democrats would have tried to let Trump build his wall in return for something major... something that they wouldn't be able to get perhaps even under a Democratic President (would it be too ambitious ask for federal Medicaid expansion in all states?)

My personal opposition to the wall is symbolic. I believe it is an unnecessarily nasty (racist even?) gesture to our neighbors to the south. And it's a rude enough statement to oppose, even if symbolic. But knowing that it is only symbolic, I wonder if at some point you don't get something for it if it's a big enough prize.

Democrats were willing to give Trump the Wall in exchange for DACA. I’d totally support a Wall in exchange for easier legal immigration, even if that easier legal immigration was limited to high-skill (say people with a higher income or education level than the median American of their same age). That seems like an obvious trade for Republicans who keep saying that they are only against illegal immigration, and want merit-based high-skill immigrants coming in. But of course Democrats should not give in on the Wall without getting something on the legal immigration side in exchange.

"Democrats were willing to give Trump the Wall in exchange for DACA. "

Not exactly true. They were wiling to authorize a wall, but no funding.

A mere authorization would have been meaningless.

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Exactly wrong. Trump was willing to allow DACA, and even upped the number, but the Democrats refused.

Wrong. Miller vetoed it.

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High skill, educated people? That’s racist, Zaua. Why do you hate poor, brown people and wish to exclude them?

Honestly, this is a good question. Is there any evidence that "high skilled, educated people" (by what standard?) are better for the country than low-skilled people? I get that there are some high-profile cases of highly educated immigrants doing great things for the country, but do the anecdotes represent the whole issue?

Further, what justification do we have for keeping non-criminal, non-diseased low-skilled folks out of the country?

The cities of Toronto and Singapore. Turns out that cream, once skimmed, still tastes like cream.

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The advantages of more skilled migrants who pay more taxes and found more businesses generally would have the backing of common sense. So the burden of proof is on the other side. What's the mechanism by which you think that lower skill migrants would contribute as much? Where's the work showing hyposelection and hyperselection are the same?

Both forms could be beneficial for some margin of benefit to the country (broadly defined), but if high numbers are destabilising politically and culturally (and they probably are) then a conservative preference for cultural and political stability (avoiding downsides) would prefer optimising "migration slots" as a scarce resource to the *most* beneficial.

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Personally I do think the common sense stance that low skilled migration is not even good for dependency ratio is probably correct and the stance that all migration or even just systematically more open regimes is favourable to the tax base probably incorrect. E.g. https://phys.org/news/2020-03-migration-workforce-aging-europe.html - The study also shows that higher immigration levels can have either a positive or a negative effect. If immigrants are well educated and integrated into the labor market, there is a positive impact. If their integration fails and if they are poorly educated, there is a negative impact on dependency

"Too often, economic and migration policies aimed at reducing the burden of population aging focus on the number of immigrants that a country should welcome. However, this is only one of the factors at play. In the absence of successful integration, increasing immigration can have the opposite effect, highlighting the importance of policies that ensure the best possible integration of migrants,"

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So generous of the Democrats to offer to let Trump impede their encouragement of law breaking in exchange for retrospectively legalizing law breaking.

I have better solution - enforce the law. Send the DACA illegals home.

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I don’t think the question is “do walls reduce illegal immigration” so much as “is this reduction a good thing”? But there is so much stigma around arguing that illegal immigration isn’t so bad that no one will have the honest second argument.

It’s sort of like how the debate on drug legalization used to be. Back in the 90s, drugs were so stigmatized that no one could ever argue “it’s not so bad if people use marijuana” without sounding like a narco-terrorist. So instead we had stupid debates like “does locking people up for long periods of time deter drug use”? Which of course it did, but that didn’t address the underlying question of whether drug use was actually that bad that it justified locking lots of people up for it.

+1

Whatever fencing is in place should be torn down. Efficacy is all the more reason to tear the fencing down.

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Funny thing about both positions here. Allegedly there are huge social dividends to eliminating walls and in eliminating drug prohibition. Somehow, though, we fail to see these dividends ever offered to the people most affected.

If knocking down the wall is a trillion dollar payout, how about we make an offer then that we give a one-off half trillion dollar payout to the poorest 100 million Americans?

If marijuana legalization is so wonderful, why not offer half the tax revenue to the mental health system which sees scads more patients whose marijuana use at least aggravates pre-existing schizophrenia (if not directly causing more)? Or maybe just create a victims fund for the hundreds or thousands of people who are now dying from driving while intoxicated with crappy reflex times.

Somehow, the only solution, ever is to let the vast majority of any alleged benefit flow to the rich, educated, and powerful. It is quite interesting to me that in spite of all these wonderous alleged effects I have never seen a classic logroll compromise offer. Never does the side extolling these things offer something of real value to the opposition to get even half a loaf.

So what exactly am I to believe? That people are willing to leave a half trillion on the ground rather than buy off the opposition? Either the pot of gold is not actually there or this all just ideological signalling regardless.

But hey, do tell. How much would be a rational offer to buy off public opposition?

Well, on drug legalization, the proposal usually is to tax the drugs and use the revenue to do things of social value.

And on immigration, immigrants do pay taxes, which are then used to fund services which go disproportionately to poorer people.

Didn't work out so well for pot, did it? Use among minor minorities is up in Washington state, and more minority kids are getting in trouble with the law over pot than before (easier to get, but still illegal for those under 21).

and of course, we see usage among minorities is up a lot. Now, if you believe pot is harmless, then this is probably no big deal. But if you think those that smoke a lot of weed have motivation issues, then it's a terrible thing.

And the additional funds for schools? Like lotto, it all went to prop up pensions. Our schools have 2X the funding of most EU countries, and outcomes that are dismal compared.

And as dismal as that outcome is, it's even more so when the kiddos are more preoccupied with smoking dope than doing their schoolwork.

Kind of like how defunding the police works. It's not that any less tax money will be spent, it will simply be redirected to more slush-fund-like initiatives. More violence, more property damage, and more lives cut short, but also more six-figure community organizers with no job performance metrics, so it's an easy decision.

The thing is, I don't even blame the grifters, their greed is refreshingly honest. It's the cargo cult here who naively cheers it on who ought to be shamed.

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"Our schools have 2X the funding of most EU countries, and outcomes that are dismal compared"

Europeans in the U.S. tend to perform better on the tests than Europeans in their home countries, right? There might be some selection effect, but most Europeans int he U.S. are not recent immigrants.

I'm talking about proficiency in math in, say, 8th graders in Finland versus 8th graders in the US. The Finns do much better, while spending a lot less.

The US spends about $13.5K per year per student, Finland is $10.2K.

Baumol effect. The PISA stuff suggests US White Americans do indeed do well, relative to Europeans.

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At best every legalization regime has directed the money into general coffers. Not once have I seen a quid pro quo offer directing that money to something opponents support. Regardless, my view of the system suggests that we are going to be paying out far more in lifetime mental illness treatment than we will ever recoup in the taxes. And, as always, the vast bulk of the profit will go to the wealthy.

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The benefits of ending any prohibition is immediate in the form of cost savings from the entire justice system from federal law enforcement agencies to the judges down to the local rank and file police officer. Not to mention the cost of incarceration. The other half of the benefits are usually revenue positive, usually in the form of rather heavy "sin" taxes, which serves to both restrict demand and provide revenue to the state.

Note that these benefits don't disproportionally flow to the rich. For example, most pot shops, pre-COVID, were already struggling as they are most small businesses with the extra disadvantage of a federal government (and most states) that still consider their business illegal and a financial system that is equally hostile to them.

> The benefits of ending any prohibition is immediate in the form of cost savings from the entire justice system from federal law enforcement agencies to the judges down to the local rank and file police officer.

No. If you think those working on moving pot said "Well, gents, the gig is up and I guess now this means we have to get regular jobs" you are high.

The criminal elements simply moves to other product. This is likely a large reason we've seen a rise in fentanyl, and the commensurate increase in drug deaths over the last decade. We're around 70K drug deaths a year, and half of those are fentanyl. And it's being moved from China to Mexico and then up to US by the same groups that used to move pot.

Not only that, the underground market for pot is still huge because there's a ~30% discount in the illegal market. And plus, nobody cares anymore except the tax man. And he doesnt' have the time to worry about illegal weed. And you can bet tons of small pot operations are moving massive amount of THC concentrate out the back door. It's too easy not to.

I never found it convincing that removing one criminal profit center would not hurt criminals at all. It's like saying "Oh if you lost your medical license you'd just get a job doing something else" right? Sure you would try to make a living as best you could, but it would certainly put pressure on you and reduce your earnings. After all if you could have made more money doing something else it's likely you would have been doing that already. It's always possible you could stumble on something more lucrative but not likely.

> I never found it convincing that removing one criminal profit center would not hurt criminals at all.

Maybe. But sometimes when a doctor loses his license he goes and works for the mob and makes even more money.

We hurt a lucrative business (pot) for the black market. The answered that hurt by switching to fentanyl, which is much easier to carry, likely just as lucrative, more dangerous to the population at large.

Sometimes, it might make sense to make something like cigs illegal because that ensures the blackmarkets spend all their efforts on something that won't kill you anytime soon.

In other words, make the black market focus on something relatively harmless.

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The question is not about how lucrative the new line is, but how dangerous it is to the public. For instance, in South Africa there used to be a huge number of carjackings. The public reacted, for instance installing flame throwers on cars, and the criminals moved to muggings. Now the returns were certainly less so the criminals, for a while at least, substituted three muggings for each car jacking below trendline.

Nor should this surprise us. After all the Mafia got its start with the lemon trade. Lemons were, of course, completely legal to grow and had no major black market. But they were time sensitive to harvest and rapidly fungible. So the Mafia worked in extortion and theft to dominate the 19th century lemon trade because their willingness to use violence and their ability to suborn Sicilian agents of the justice system brought them outsized profits.

When opportunities have faded, organized crime has never withered on the vine and gone home. They have typically moved into more violent, more far reaching sorts of crime. Their profit margins have gone down, but they typically respond with increased recruitment and increased violence. Which is why the Mafia was, by far, more dangerous to the public in the 50s and 60s than it ever was under prohibition.

Yeah the mob had to work harder for income in the 50s, but they did it by murdering a lot of union members and extorting a lot more business people. And that is the real result of ending prohibition, the criminals moved into sidelines that required far more numerous victims.

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So why, exactly, did aboslutely nothing like this happen?

When we legalized alcohol, the federal (and local) law enforcement budgets did not decrease. The number of incarcerated individuals did not decrease. And the entirety of the "sin" tax on alcohol flows right back out in treatment of liver disease, mental health, drunk driving deaths, and the rest.

And we see the same in other jurisdictions that repealed prohibition.

And then, of course, we look at marijuana which resulted in basically zilch for decreases in law enforcement budgets in the states that legalized it (or Canada) and the number of incarcerated individuals has not dramatically dropped.

In terms of general crime, the historical pattern is an increase in crime following legalization. The criminal networks' primary skill sets are not in distillation, bottling, or even shipping. They are in intimidation, violence, subornation, and managing prison time. Take away one product and they will simply shift to others. Gangs in Mexico, for instance have not responded to the loss of marijuana income by going legit, but by everything from fentanyl to train cars full of grain.

Regardless, suppose your fairy tale is true. We net $X on less law enforcement and on sin taxation. Where are the offers of $X/2 or even $X/4 to the pet causes of the opposition? I mean take your pick. You could offer to fund "crisis pregnancy centers" or "marriage training" or child tax credits. Yet this never happens. Campaigners routinely hold out for some pure deal rather than take a half a loaf today.

Could be wrong, but it sure looks like this is the same as the casino story. Wonderful fairy tale, some window dressing of "sin taxation", and virtually no net benefit, let alone the massive windfalls talked about during the PR campaigns.

Are any such offers on the table or have they ever been? I would have thought proponents would be open to such ideas, opponents not so much.

That is my point. We are told that legalization will save billions, but somehow I never read about an offer to spend half of the spoils on some grand bargain to get it passed. And maybe the proponents would not bite, but I doubt it. You could generate a lot of political pressure with a couple of finely targeted expenditures that are a sizeable fraction of the amounts bandied about.

And I see this all the time. We are told that immigration is better for everyone. Yet never do I see anyone offer to put immigration visas up for auction and a portion of the proceeds being disbursed to those likely to most directly compete with the newcomers.

I am told that upzoning will dramatically increase productivity and GDP, yet never do I hear any proposal that would cut checks to the home owners affected.

It is always billion and trillion dollar bills lying on the ground that we could never offer any of the payout to meet halfway.

So either this is heavy on virtue signaling where commitment to the idea is more important than getting half a loaf or the piles of money are just fairy tales.

I am willing to be proven wrong. Some upzoning proponents may have proposed a development tax to go towards the affected property owners or some immigration dove may be willing to auction H1-Bs and send the spoils in some fashion to the competing citizens … I just have never heard of such.

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I used to live in California, and more than a few folks I met were not exactly thorough on the immigration documentation. Hard workers, loyal husbands and wives, loving parents, frugal--all those virtues that Americans are supposed to have. I knew one family where the grandmother cooked food and the rest of the family served and sold it to the folks living in the apartment complex. They made money, we got a delicious meal, and it brought the community together. Made some good friends that way. Unfortunately someone ratted them out to the regulators and it got shut down (note that no one actually got sick from it).

I'd trade one illegal immigrant that's working hard and supporting his family for any 10 children pretending to be adults and moaning that the government doesn't give them enough free stuff. I'd trade 1 illegal immigrant for any 20 people who whine to regulators about hard working families that are contributing to the community.

Yep. I think support for immigration, even illegal immigration, increases as people are exposed to more immigrants and sees what you are seeing. Immigration has certainly become a bigger issue for me as I have some immigrants affiliated with a local university in my social network and can see the kind of BS they have to put up with on a regular basis. In some ways, I think immigration could be the next gay marriage—as more people come “out” so to speak, more people will acknowledge that they are not so different from us. These things can shift quickly—a generation ago, you would’ve sounded like a deviant and a pervert for supporting gay marriage, now you sound like a bigot for opposing it. Perhaps we’ll see a similar shift on immigration.

I think the real issue is, "Where's the harm?" If two men decide to sign a legal document (and marriage is a legal contract) my bones remain unbroken and pocket unpicked, as it were. Similarly, if some Mexican family doesn't pay the designated officials, I'm not harmed in the slightest. Okay, they may take a job instead of me--that's not harm, that's called competition. If they commit a crime, that crime is the issue, not their immigration status. And in fact them doing jobs cheaper is a benefit to me, because it either drives down prices or drives up revenue for companies, either of which is good for the economy and ultimately for me as an investor and a participant in the economy.

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"But there is so much stigma around arguing that illegal immigration isn’t so bad that no one will have the honest second argument."

Nonsense. People--even some libertarians--have argued against open borders ad naseum.

Libertarians aren’t exactly known for being attuned to social conventions, especially online. Libertarians also argue ad nauseum for repealing the Civil Rights Act and other anti-discrimination laws but I wouldn’t try to make that argument in mixed company.

The left-wing of the Democratic Party has been advocating abolishing ICE (and has introduced legislation in Congress to that effect), which is the functional equivalent of drug decriminalization. So the stigma against having a public debate about open borders is not very great any more.

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Social conventions tend to be dumb, inconsistent, and irrational, so being attuned you’re then doesn’t seem like an asset intellectually speaking. I can’t help but think of the public reaction Justin Amash’s opposition to that “anti-lynching” law, by a bunch of leftists who purport to oppose the federal death penalty (as does Amash)... when the primary effect of the law is to expand the use of the death penalty. Usually when people criticize libertarians for being ‘socially inept’ or ‘aspy’ or whatever they’re basically criticizing them for being internally consistent or rational.

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If you argue that the wall is harmful or "racist" even, then do you also argue that passports and border control are unnecessary? Do you believe it is in the US's interest to know who and what is coming into the country?

My impression is that those who argue against the wall, do so from a position of NIMBY-ism, they are far removed from negative effects of illegal crossings and may knowingly or unknowingly benefit from it in terms of access to illegal drugs, unregulated labor, etc.

We wouldn't have to build a wall if the borders were respected in the first place. I reiterate, Every country has an interest in knowing and regulating what comes into their country, and borders need to be respected.

Easily fixed by giving anyone who asks a work/residency permit with no minimum wage laws applying.

They’re only crossing illegally because it’s not possible otherwise. Ironically this allows criminals or mules to hide amongst the innocent. If everyone is crossing legally except for the actual criminals, suddenly it’s much easier to catch them

Yeah, so easy, just have congress pass the law through the normal law making process.

In absence of that law, what are we to do to curb the existing illegal activity?

Why do we need to? Let the law fall into disuse. Or judiciously apply it. This is done with innumerable laws already, one more isn't going to make much difference. I mean, the cops don't pull over everyone disobeying the speed limit, and that poses a FAR greater risk to the average person than illegal immigration (I work on Superfund sites and testing facilities of various kinds, and driving to work remains the greatest hazard, statistically speaking). That was shown to be effective in ending at least some drug prohibitions.

"There is a law so we must enforce it" is the Is/Ought Fallacy applied to politics. It's not even a particularly interesting variation.

If you take a look two comments up at his original post, he says why the law should be enforced.

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It's pretty easy to catch them now. Are they crossing illegally? If so, they are a criminal.

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Lol we need to wave in the invading army because their spies might be hiding amongst the soldiers.

I’ve never seen a better example of someone just regurgitating a talking point. The nice thing about rational border control is there is no where to hide- everyone captured is denied entry. Fake problem solved

Apparently you haven’t realized /pol is a LARP meme.

Yikes

Apparently you haven’t realized Matt Buckalew is just a character being played in a comment section.

Sir, how dare you? I am a real boy, not some contrivance. Are not you aware of my prowess in the Sporting endeavours? Are you not afraid I might... steal yo' girl? Good fellow, I am of great Wealth and Strength - do not question my existence.

Your girl is almost certainly fucking someone else but it most likely isn’t me. I’m U23 when it comes to fucking and you and your girl are in your fifties.

Ho ho! Good show, lad!

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Yeah, they "work"... now you get to fix your own roof in August, pick your own tomatoes, and fix your own Ruby on Rails bugs.

None of which you are strong or smart enough to do, even if you didn't have other uses for your time... which I sure do.

Clearly not if you need to pay sub market rate labor to do these things. I’m rich as fuck I can pay more- why exactly should poor people like you be deciding our immigration laws. That’s like the guy who wants to set the age of consent to 13 because he can’t fuck legal chicks deciding the age of consent in this country. We aren’t importing scabs because you can’t fork over an extra 20 cents for strawberries. Eat grapes instead they are cheaper.

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http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/169521#.UeXqBUB15DQ

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reacted to the [99%] decrease [in illegal entry]. “This is a result of the comprehensive work we’ve done to deal with the phenomenon of illegal entry,” he said.

“After stopping the phenomenon with the help of the fence we built along the border, we are now working to return the illegal entrants currently located here to their home countries,” he added.

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"relevant evidence" needs rigor. This issue is so complex, this information and analysis will not be relevant in all cases.

This paper is certainly relevant to some perspectives.

It feels similar to a senator who brings a snowball into Congress and says "it's cold outside!" Absolutely true, and relevant, if you're deciding on footwear and outerwear for your walk home. Irrelevant to the climate change debate.

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We require people to build fences or walls around swimming pools to keep idiots from drowning. So fences and physical barriers actually work to keep some people out.

I don’t understand the emotional opposition to the wall. The goal is to reduce but not eliminate illegal immigration. Rule of law is good. Why can’t we decide how many skilled immigrants we want, and how many unskilled immigrants we want, and enforce laws that achieve our goals?

The wall helps us have fewer people breaking our immigration laws. Once someone gets here illegally, it costs $10,000 per person to send them back.

Unskilled Americans don’t make much money. We don’t need more unskilled immigrants competing with them. 60% of the people crossing our southern border lack a high school degree. They are making income inequality worse.

Favoring the wall has become so politically incorrect that it is no longer possible to have a reasonable discussion, and I feel that I cannot say that I favor the wall without saying it anonymously.

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All these arguments can be fixed by allowing more immigrants, but legally. Simplify the process and allow more. Most Mexicans would be happy enough with a work permit. Legally is the issue though. We need to vet them though. I have a buddy who worked the southern border for a long time. Even got shot by drug runners. He says the people coming over have changed a lot in the past 20 years. Used to be a lot of hard workers, nice people looking to better themselves. In the past 10 we've got a lot of people from central america who are not so nice (people coming in, not central americans in general). What's wrong in choosing the people we allow in?

How about we choose to end immigration for ten years. It’s not an accident that the twenty greatest years of American prosperity followed twenty years of an almost complete immigration shut down in the 1920s and 30s. This country beat Hitler and got the moon with thirty years of limited immigration.

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“To be clear, I do not favor building the Trump Wall.”

Tyler, your virtue signaling is getting tiresome. Worse, it’s pointless. Do you think the progressive mob is appeased by these little gestures of support for their open-borders agenda? Do you think they’ll spare you when it’s your turn to get cancelled because you haven’t pledged total allegiance to them or because you’re the wrong race, the wrong sexual orientation, or the wrong gender?

Scott Alexander’s been doing nothing but leaping leftward since he moved to the Bay Area. How did that work out for him?

Pick a side.

Right, we need *more* of that blunt simpleton idiocy known as tribalism. Dive right in, Tyler!

In an ideal world, no. But we live in the real world. He's trying to appease people who have proven to be unappeasable while alienating the people who would come to his defense when the mob comes for him. The logic is pretty simple.

mebbe he simply doesn't favor building the wall

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Scott's problem has nothing to do with where one situates his politics.

Weird comment.

I doubt Tyler is at all worried about being 'cancelled'. Weird again for you to assume so.

It's clear he's not worried about being cancelled. He's wrong. His time will come and no amount of "to be clear" type statements are going to help him. If the woke patrol can come after Scott, they can come for Tyler.

Will the woke patrol reveal Tyler's real name? Do you need a safe space?

You def need one.

No, I don't.

Yes, you do.

No, I don't. You are the one whining that Mr. Tyler do not agree with you and you are the one mentioning snowflake Alexander Scott.

I mentioned no such thing here. The only thing I mentioned is you need a safe space.

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I think George Mason is safe for the foreseeable future. Probably one of the few universities for which we can say that for sure.

After all, they didn't even bother to put up a Mason statue until 1996.

And it is currently at a temporary location to boot - "Moving the Mason statue is fairly straightforward, Pinskey said.

After it was loosened from its base, the statue was picked up by a forklift, strapped onto a flatbed truck for safety and shuttled to Holton Plaza.

There it was be placed on a newly constructed base.

Once the statue returns, it will be part of the memorial on Wilkins Plaza dedicated to the Enslaved People of George Mason.

That memorial, designed by landscape architects with Perkins & Will, in association with a diverse team of Mason faculty, staff and students, intertwines the narratives of two of Mason’s slaves: Penny, a 10-year-old girl, and James, Mason’s personal manservant.

At the base of the Mason statue will also be four quotes from Mason that explains his important and complex role in American history as the author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights and a slaveowner." www2.gmu.edu/news/586401

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Tweeting umpteen times a day - premature ejaculation. In fear of the Freudian father.

Are you so connected ? No walls here !

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The Israeli wall works against terrorism, but there is still a robust smuggling trade. People and goods illegally go back and forth daily. Where Israelis and Palestinians cooperate in smuggling, it can work to some unknown amount.

+ 1

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Lovely, as trade in goods is substitute for migration of people! :-)

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There are two types of Israeli walls. The first went up on the West Bank to stop terrorism. Perhaps those are the walls through which smuggling is still possible. The second wall, along the Egyptian border, was _not_ built to prevent terrorism, but purely to block the surge of "economic infiltrators" (Netanyahu's words) from Africa. The Eqyptian wall has been virtually 100% successful. It worked and works today. It would be hard to find better proof of the efficacy of walls.

That wall works, but it's incredibly expensive, and not near as long as the US/ Mexico border.If money is no object, you can build a very effective wall.

The Israeli barrier across the Eqyptian border was cheap. Just using Wikipedia info, it is difficult to estimate the total cost to install a barrier over the 2000 km of the US-MX border with no wall, but I get a round number of as little as $5 billion. Whatever the amount is, it is trivial compared to the costs of illegal border crossings.

“The U.S. and Mexico are not hostile entities,” said Israeli. “There is a wish to prevent human trafficking from Mexico, where Latin American migrants, as well as migrants from other countries, pour into. If they set up a significant obstacle that is high-quality with sensors, it will be extremely costly because the border is over 3,000 kilometers long.”

The great distances between the stations that monitor the barrier would mean that it would not be full-proof in stopping the migration flow, explained Israeli. “The question is whether the U.S. is willing to invest this huge sum.”

https://www.jns.org/six-years-after-completion-israels-border-fence-with-egypt-has-transformed-the-south/

Israeli, who is quoted, does believe it can work. But I also followed his assessment of the cost. While not specific, it sounds like a lot.

And, of course, while effective, it won't be perfect.

Israel and Eqypt are also not hostile enemies. Precisely the same reasons for erecting the Israel-Egypt border (blocking economic migration and the smuggling of contraband) apply to the US-Mexico border. If there are "great distances between" monitoring stations, then build more monitoring stations! There is no cost estimate for building across the entire US-Mexico border the identically effective form of the Israel-Egypt barrier that would not repay itself ten times over in reduced costs of illegal border crossings.

The comments in this article only serve the interest of U.S. elites in keeping labor cheap, reducing social cohesion, and making a better welfare state financially impossible.

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Well it depends on your time frame.

I can claim the wall caused great economic harm to the unified Franciscan state of Baja y Alto California. The great, modern colonial Franciscan economy never recovered from the blow of the wall, for all the reasons the authors cited.

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Travel bans, masks, walls. Things that don't work, until they do. (Whether or not they "should" work...).

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Wow. I have just read famous magazine Foreign Policy about how the clumsy Indian fascists may, after the abject failure of their attempt at territorial aggrandizement, try to attack India at the trade front and how it will backfire on their stupid selves. It is a pretty interesting reading, I must tell you. https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/06/29/trade-war-china-bad-idea-india-border-skirmish-boycott/?utm_source=PostUp&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=22897&utm_term=Editors%20Picks%20OC&?tpcc=22897

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https://migration.ucdavis.edu/rs/more.php?id=69

From the other historic wall:

But foreign labor was of no major importance until 1960-61, when the migration from the GDR to the FRG came to a sudden halt after the construction of the Berlin Wall. At this point, the third phase, the German authorities began to organize labor recruitment on a large scale; it was later stopped in order to reduce the number of foreigners in the FRG. This goal was not achieved, but the attempt led to a consolidation of the guest-worker population and later to a new moderate growth in West Germany's foreign population by way of family reunion and a rapidly increasing number of children born to foreigners in Germany (fourth phase). But only in the late 1980s and early 1990s (fifth phase) did the immigration of ethnic Germans and foreigners reach new peak levels. This was due not only to a change in the push and pull factors but also to the dismantling of the Iron Curtain and administrative barriers that, before 1989-90, had rendered regular travel and emigration almost impossible for citizens of Central and East European countries and the USSR.

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"Walls don't work" was never a real argument. It's a special case of the "immigration is inevitable so we shouldn't bother trying to stop it" line. What they really mean is: "I don't want to stop it."

Whenever someone appeals to inevitability, they invariably support the thing they are insisting is "inevitable" and they are attempting to trick the people that don't want it to give up without a fight.

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A wall, absent other new restrictions on immigration, wouldn’t work very well because most illegal immigrants came here legally but stayed longer than they were supposed to, they didn’t get here by swimming across the Rio Grande.

The border does stop quite a few illegal crossers. I'm not so concerned about those who overstay. At least they went through a vetting process to get in.

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It is time to make good on Arthur Zimmerman's offer, and return Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona to their rightful owners. And throw in California too.
End the War on Black People now! Power to the People! Free Angela Davis!

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The argument, if you are opposed to mass immigration, should not be whether walls work, they do, but whether a wall is really the most effective way to stop mass immigration. A wall takes all the burden off the employers, who are the main cause of the problem and makes the immigrants look like the guilty parties. Punish employers for hiring illegal undocumented workers and immigration will dry up more quickly and more humanely. The problem with the wall is that it appears to be less about stopping immigration and more about projecting power. That would be fine, except a wall is a defensive impotent power. The Great Wall of China was a joke for centuries and a symbol of Chinese withdrawal from the world and backwardness. The Maginot line became a symbol of French cowardice. Hadrian's wall also became a symbol of the limits of Roman power ("we dare go no further") not its awesomeness. Trump's wall would also show the world that the US has become a cowering insular country (although COVID has done a good job of that as well).

It's not really either/or here.

You assume availability of infinite resources?

You can probably build walls and do other things at the same time without infinite resources. I'm guessing.

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The Great Wall was a great success, can you name another country which was only conquered twice in 2700 years? You can’t.

Hadrians wall was also hugely successful. Pity the walls elsewhere in the empire were not as good.

Maginots did not fail, hitlers Germany went through Belgium where there were minimal defenses.

Time to stop lying and start reading some history.

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I’m OK with the building the wall , but I firmly believe the best wall is a prosperous Mexico.

True, but we're only in control of one of those.

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Typical micro paper not considering general equilibrium effects. Why only considering local migration patterns and not the whole one?

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A wall only works if everyone on one side of it actually wants to keep everyone else on the other side. The US has a lot of people who WANT people to come through that wall, and they aren't all flake ass liberals. There is a big chunk of the business community that relies on the porosity of that wall to keep labor costs and problems under control. No US president, not Obama, not Trump, has seriously done anything about this business model. Even if Trump 100% eliminates political asylum as a case for crossing the wall, the high end businesses will insist on more and cheaper H1Bs and the low end businesses on a reliable supply of cheap migrants, visas or no visas.

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The question is does a specific wall deter immigrants who would have made a negative contribution to incomes of residents by enough to offset the cost of construction and the cost of deterring immigrants who would have made a positive contribution. This paper does not shed much light on the relevant cost-benefit analysis.

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I was once a classmate of Tyler’s. Given his resistance against all of the current and historic evidence that good walls, like good fences, make for good neighbours, I will never again admit this without painful embarrassment.

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Before anyone advocates for a wall they should think about this - there is a huge disparity in the income levels south of the border and yet we have been blessed with a relatively peaceful co-existence with our neighbors. I believe that peace is partly due to the relative ease with which people and goods cross the border. (“ When goods don’t cross borders, soldiers will.”) A wall will necessarily increase the feelings of hostility that those to the south feel for those of us in the north. I for one don’t wish to burden future generations with a greatly destabilized border.

Things are already pretty unstable in Mexico and I suspect having a wall would lead to greater stability as it would likely reduce the drugs coming north as well.

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