Yesterday, I posted an article in support of a border wall with Mexico. I stand by that article; it was honestly written and well researched.
My conclusions mentioned other things that were at least as important as border defenses, and I’d like to discuss them in more detail. Remember: This is not an either-or situation; as the wealthiest nation in the world at the pinnacle of human achievement and prosperity, we can afford to do pretty much whatever we want, much less everything we ought.
A note: Many people who agreed with that post will hate all of these. Since I’m being reasonable about the Wall, I’d ask that you return the courtesy and listen to what I have to say. Be assured, I’ve examined each of these thoroughly and dispassionately, and I’m confident in my conclusions. To give you time to do the same, I’ll present them over several days.
(1) We need to boost the Mexican economy.
Compared to the rest of Central America, the economy of Mexico is in solid shape; it’s actually ranked the eleventh in the world. Inflation is high but not unreasonable; corruption, while endemic, is so functionally; extreme poverty, while widespread, is escapable. There are jobs for those who want them; in large part, this is due to the proximity of the United States. Indeed, the single largest segment of foreign income in Mexico is remittances: cash sent home from family abroad.
This is a frequent bone of contention among Americans, and I’d agree with the assertion that untaxed funds leaving our shores without a return is generally a depressant on our own domestic economy. However, the overwhelming majority of these remittances are from taxed income; the Social Security Administration reports that, in 2016, over $13 billion was collected by them from illegal workers — workers, I’d remind you, who (under present law) will never be able to collect the benefits of their contributions.
I would assert that this can only be a win for Americans. Whether crab-picking in the Chesapeake, fruit-picking in southern California, or summer housekeepers along the coast of Maine, migrant workers both legal and illegal are performing jobs that natives will refuse — jobs that generate income for their employers far in excess of the wages paid. Given that both the income and the wages will be taxed, it seems apparent that our suffering Social Security fund can only benefit; given that those who pay in will not be able to collect, we can hardly refuse to accept the workers. We should absolutely make sure they’re present legally — which means we need to vastly increase the relevant programs until there’s no big advantage to cheating the system.
We’ll be providing a legitimate avenue for Mexican citizens to earn money without sneaking across the border while we’re getting rich (well, less poor) in the process.
Consider: Every year, the Border Patrol collects upwards of a hundred thousand people just north of the Mexican border and sends them back south again. Some of these will try again and again until they succeed; a substantial fraction will die in the desert of thirst or exposure. The human cost is incredible; the budget cost is billions each year.
Yes, a wall would make this more difficult. The present obstacles to crossing parts of the desert are ludicrous; a continuous barrier would be a vast discouragement. However, to a desperate person, discouragements are as nothing; opposite them, we need to offer a compensating hope or we’ll just redirect their movements to our thousands of miles of open coastline, to tunnels, and even to immigration-by-catapult-and-balloon. (Believe it or not.)
Bottom line: We can tax legal migrants. Some illegals evade taxes. Why would we ever want to collect less than is our due?
(Editor’s Note: I’m also in favor of most of the NAFTA provisions for similarly self-serving reasons. The argument, however, is far too intricate and involved to be discussed fully here; it would require a medium-length book. If you want something like that, you’ll see a contribution link in the Support Us section of the website.)