In the first Republican Presidential debate, Donald Trump reiterated his proposal to build a fence between the United States and Mexico, and even said he’d get Mexico to help pay for it. Given Trump’s current polling figures, millions of Americans believe that it’s a “common sense” proposal.
The fence issue illustrates one of the big problems with so-called common sense ideas. Often they’re anything but sensible. The land border with Mexico stretches 1,969 miles, and the Department of Homeland Security has already fenced some 651 miles of that border, mostly near urban areas and international bridges. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, with over 58,000 personnel and a budget of $4 billion, also patrols that area and the more remote borderlands in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, using 16,875 vehicles, 269 aircraft, 300 watercraft, and 300 camera towers, as well as aerial drones.
While the number of illegal immigrants crossing from Mexico annually has declined more than sixty percent since 2000, the Border Patrol still apprehends more than 100,000 illegals annually, and agency cost estimates to fence the entire border top twenty billion dollars, not including annual maintenance. And even fences are not secure, since each year the agency repairs more than 4,000 breaches in the existing fencing. To effectively seal the U.S.-Mexico border would require the equivalent of a 1,969-mile Berlin Wall, and maintaining and staffing it would likely cost well over $100 billion over the next ten to fifteen years. And illegals would then take to the seas, or tunnel under it. Also, does anyone really think Mexico can come up with that kind of money when they can’t even control the crime syndicates in Mexico?
In the meantime, there are over eleven million illegal immigrants in the United States, and trying to apprehend and deport them would require the equivalent of Nazi Germany’s SS troopers. Gee… a Berlin Wall and the storm troopers… what ever happened to America, the land built on the hopes of aspirations of immigrants, the land where 95% of the entire population consists of immigrants and the descendants of immigrants?
Likewise proposals to “bring back American factory jobs” are nonsense. The United States manufactures far more than it did twenty years ago – and it does so with far fewer workers through the use of computers and automation. Those kind of jobs are never coming back.
Yet tens of millions of people swallow such simplistic political promises. Yes, we need a better handle on immigration and better jobs for millions of Americans, and a lot of other improvements, but simplistic political promises based on wishes and so-called common sense aren’t going to do anything effective to deal with either.