2004 January 06 Tuesday
Israel West Bank Barrier Fence To Cost $3.5 Million Per Mile

The barrier being constructed between the West Bank and Israel is a wall in some sections and a fence in other sections depending on the perceived security needs in each area. A barrier to keep out trouble is affordable.

Bronfman blamed many of the problems in and around villages like Mas'ha on the security fence. However, a security source intimate with details about the construction of the fence said Monday that the fence will annex only 6 percent of the West Bank on the Israeli side, including the spur that surrounds Ariel. At this stage of construction, said the source, 1.7% of West Bank land is on the Israeli side of the fence.

The source added that so far 200 km. out of the total of 730 km. of the fence has been completed.

Ahmad Maher of Islam Online claims the fence may be as long as 900 km.

The wall will snake some 900 kilometers along the West Bank and leave even larger swathes of its territory on the Israeli side and could cost up to $2.2 million a kilometer.

The $2.2 million per kilometer estimate translates into 3.54 million per mile which agrees with the $3.5 million per mile estimate in an American newspaper.

So far, Israel has built 93 miles of the barrier in the north. When finished, the barrier will cost an estimated $3.5 million per mile.

At $3.5 million per mile the construction of an equivalent barrier on the almost 2000 mile US border with Mexico in order to keep out illegal aliens would cost $7 billion. This also is quite affordable. The potential savings in medical costs alone would pay for the barrier in the first year. Cost reductions in Medicaid expenditures alone would be substantial.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 January 06 12:42 AM  MidEast Arabs Versus Israelis


Comments
Ray said at January 6, 2004 7:59 AM:

I think the problem with building a barrier on the US/Mexico border are not the actual cost of the barrier's construction, but (politics aside) the cost of manning it. No barrier will endure if it is not guarded, and the cost of putting American citizens on the wall day and night to keep it from being bulldozed/rushed would be quite high.

A Berman said at January 6, 2004 8:25 AM:

On one hand, there is a big difference. After all, Israelis are perfectly willing to kill anyone who tries to scale the fence. The US would be hard put to have machine guns supporting any barriers with Mexico.
On the other hand, the US fence wouldn't have to be secure as the Israeli fence.

Randall, I have a theory I'd like your views on. My theory is this:
If Israel completes the fence and keeps it up for a year, then Israel wins. Not only in internal security, but especially in the political arena-- most of the world, including Europe and the Arab states, will distance themselves from the Palestinian cause and move towards Israel.
My reasoning is based on assuming Alan Dershowitz is right-- that the Palestinian cause is supported *because* of, not in-spite of, their terrorist activities. The media generated from these activities fuels passions in the Arab world and scares Europeans. The media generated from Israeli responses also feuls passions in the Arab world and generates sympathy in Europe. PLO leaders have been quoted as saying that terrorism is "theatre." Well, if the theatre goes dark, people will leave the building.

Thoughts?

Randall Parker said at January 6, 2004 5:38 PM:

Ray, There'd be no need for a person to stand guard on each mile or half mile. Cantral guard centers could watch cameras (some of which could be on tall poles to provide views over wide areas), image processing computers that watch camera feeds for human-looking motions, motion sensors, infrared sensors, and the like would alert guards on where to go to. They'd need to able to get to any spot. Already there are UAVs flying along the border but not enough to watch all the border all the time. More UAVs would help too.

Andy, Your use of the word "theatre" seems quite accurate. As I see it there are three big sources of theater that Israel needs to reduce:

- Death of Israelis.

- Death of bystanders when the Israelis strike back to kill terrorists in the territories.

- The impositions on the Palestinians in terms of roadblocks and incursions into the territories to try to stop attacks.

One question is whether PLO, Hamas, IJ, and allies will be able to find new ways to create theater. Put yourself in their shoes and ask what you would do. Tunnelling of course is one obvious option. I'd expect to see tunnelling attempts made. Also, mortar and missile attacks using locally made mortars and missiles seem likely at some point. What else can they come up with? Can they produce even 10 percent of the amount of theater they currently can create? I do not know.

Now, let us suppose they can only launch 1% of the number of attacks they have been launching and that Israel can continue to prevent all but rare attacks for a year or two. Suppose the Israelis can dismantle the bulk of the roadblocks and finds no need to go hunting for the terrorists in the territories. All three major sources of theater are very greatly reduced.

What happens then? Will the Arabs in all the other countries in the Middle East think a whole lot less about the Palestinians and Israel? Will we find out that they are still complaining bitterly even though Palestinians are no longer dying and even though the IDF is no longer creating big inconveniences for the bulk of the Palestinians? Or wil they just focus on those Palestinians who are separated from their land or homes by the barrier fencing? Seems to me that a lot of wind has to go out of their sails.

I'm quite eager to see how this plays out. I wish the Israelis would finish the barrier structures more quickly so that we can move on to the next phase. At the very least if the Arabs do not chill out over the separation that will make clearer to casual observers that the main beef of the Arabs is not the settlements and that it is Israel itself.

guesswhat said at January 6, 2004 6:51 PM:

Parapundit -- You've been nominated for a "Drysdale" award. Check it out:

http://wampum.wabanaki.net/archives/000674.html

marek said at January 6, 2004 7:02 PM:

I wish as well that the fence will be completed ASAP. However, Palestinians will increase the use of rockets, mortars, RPGs, etc. How will Israel respond I don't know. I hope for a harsh response - no proprotionality required and economic penalties should be thrown in for a good measure. Will this make the conflict to go on the back burner - I'm not too optimistic. The Arabs in UN, NGOs will not let it happen. But at least many less Israelis will be dying - and that's good.

John Moore (Useful Fools) said at January 6, 2004 8:00 PM:

The Palestinians are already using rockets with a range of several kilometers. I think Israel will find itself occasionally intervening against rockets of that size or larger, but overall the threat reduction should be dramatic - hopefully decisive. Other attacks will probably use home-made drones or motorized hang-gliders, but they should be pretty easy to stop.

One thing the Palestinians will do is try to use Israeli Arabs, who live within the fence and are Israeli citizens. There have been some problems from that quarter already.

I recently read an article in Commentary that suggested that the West Bank will not survive as a country, and will ultimately become part of Jordan (which is what it used to be anyway). Jordan already has an issue with a Hashemite king but a majority Palestinian population. Perhaps the Palestinians will switch to torturing Hashemites instead of Jews.

With the way things have been going, I am wondering if the US will have to put up 60,000 foot high "fences" around our entire perimeter!

Fly said at January 7, 2004 3:11 PM:

Randall, I’ve followed with interest your posts on immigration reform. I agree there is a danger in uncontrolled mass migration. US citizens would be safer, healthier, wealthier, and perhaps happier with fewer unskilled immigrants.

However what about Mexico next door? How might it change if the US erected strong barriers to immigration? I’m guessing that Mexico would become much poorer. That poverty could lead to higher birth rates and a descending economic spiral. The US could have a very resentful poor neighbor with a high birth rate.

What happens in Mexico if the US continues to allow mass migration? I’m guessing the Mexican economy will improve and the people become wealthier. Their birthrate will decline. So many people will have relatives in the US that kinship will tie the countries together. Mexicans living in the US will absorb US culture and that will change Mexico.

While US citizens might be slightly poorer, overall the US might do better with a developed, wealthy, and friendly neighbor.
To a lesser degree this applies to all immigration. Immigrants create strong ties between the US and other countries. These ties help spread US culture and values as well as help enrich the US culture by absorbing the best from other cultures.

Does this mean I favor uncontrolled mass migration? No. I believe a nation must control its own borders. A mass influx of unskilled, non-English speaking illegal immigrants from third world countries harms the US socially and economically while threatening our security.

What can we do to protect the best features of US society while also spreading prosperity and friendly ties with our neighbors?

I would promote pride in our Western liberal democratic heritage. I would encourage every immigrant to learn English and interact with the mainstream culture. I’d reverse the trend toward a separate Spanish speaking US. (This is a two-way street. The mainstream culture will also have to adapt to the immigrant groups. I’d also encourage more of our citizens to learn other languages. In a global economy a second language will be a strong asset.) I would be as critical of other cultures as we are of ourselves. I would extend tolerance only to those cultures that promote tolerance. I would restrict immigration to those willing to adapt Western liberal secular democracy with its tradition of tolerance.

While I don’t like rewarding illegal immigration, I’d institute some policy leading to citizenship. Expelling all Mexican illegal immigrants would be too disruptive to both the US and Mexico, would sour our relationship with Mexico for decades, and would alienate US Hispanics. At the same time I’d reduce social services available to non-citizens. I’d introduce a secure national ID card that would be a requirement for employment, education, or any social services. Carrot and stick approach.

In the future I believe most immigrants and their children will be economic and social assets. I also believe the US will be more secure and play a stronger world role by having strong kinship ties to most of the world.

Randall Parker said at January 7, 2004 4:37 PM:

Fly,

If we care about how things are developing in Mexico (and I do) then we ought to have a policy more oriented toward trying to fix the place. Mass immigration from Mexico will not fix Mexico. But even though the average level of education of Mexican immigrants to the US is only the 8th grade level the immigration from Mexico to the United States is actually brain-draining the place because the average level of education in Mexico is 5th grade.

One reason for this tragic state of affairs is that Mexico spends so little on education.

Does immigration build bonds between the United States and other countries? I doubt it. The ones left behind end up resenting the United States because they didn't get to go. The ones who go have children and then grandchildren who know progressively less and care progressively less about where they came from.

If mass immigration was going to cause Mexico to become a better place then why hasn't this happened? They have NAFTA access to the US market. They have tens of millions of Mexicans and their descendants living in the United States already. Where's the big transformative benefit for Mexico?

Expelling illegals: It would not be too disruptive because it would happen gradually. It would take a few years to do it. The labor markets increase and decrease the number of people employed by millions from year to year. The lost labor would represent far less in lost economic value produced than in the proportionate number of people involved because those people make so little and are far less productive than the average worker in the US economy. Also, many now-unemployed American workers would be hired as replacements.

A second language is only an asset if the language is one for a country which is technologically advanced and rapidly growing economically. There is an argument to be made for learning Mandarin, not Spanish.

US culture spread: It happens with movies and TV shows and music and books. Our culture is spreading so fast to so many places that it is generating enormous resentment in some quarters.

Enriching our own culture: We have great French restaurants even though we have few French immigrants. The best ideas and techniques from other cultures can be learned by Americans. We take in lots of ideas. Those who come here who bring lots of great ideas are overwhelmingly highly educated and skilled.

Bob Badour said at January 7, 2004 9:43 PM:

Randall and Fly,

Let's not forget the benefits of marginal advantage. I suggest that mass emigration ultimately ruins Mexico's economy. First, there is the brain drain effect Randall already mentioned. Over and above that, one can speculate that Mexican emigration drains the country of its most ambitious and adventurous.

Having fewer people building infrastructure will permanently and increasingly retard Mexico's growth. The farther behind it falls, the fewer prospects its citizens will have. I suggest this leads to high unemployment and poverty on both sides of the border.

Proborders said at January 8, 2004 5:33 PM:

Fly, if the US were to reduce immigration from Mexico, Mexico's elite might do more for Mexico's less fortunate.

Mexico's share of the world's population is less than 2%. However, about 30% of all immigrants in the United States are from Mexico (http://www.cis.org/articles/2003/back1203.html).

Some leftists seem to favor proportionate representation. Therefore,...

The world's human population is about 6.3 billion (http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/ipc/popclockw). China's population is 1.3 billion (http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/ipc/idbrank.pl). India's population is 1.1 billion. Should 1 out of 6 immigrants be from China? Should 1 out of 6 immigrants be from India. There are a billion Moslems. Should 1 out of 6 immigrants be a Moslem? Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Russia, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Japan all have more people than Mexico has. Should there be more immigrants from each of the countries just mentioned than from Mexico?

Mexico doesn't have the world's highest unemployment rate (http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/rankorder/2129rank.html).

Mexico isn't the poorest country in terms of per capita GDP (http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/rankorder/2004rank.html).

I think a 10% percent maximum quota for Mexican immigrants would be generous.

Randall and Bob,

Relatively few immigrants from Mexico are among the Mexicans with the best educational qualifications. As of 1999, 1 out of 4 people in Mexico age 25-34 had completed senior secondary school. Most adult Mexican immigrants in the United States are not high school graduates, however.

Bob Badour said at January 8, 2004 9:30 PM:

Proborders,

You are comparing apples and oranges. Mexicans aged 25-34 are not representative of "most Mexicans" on either side of the border.

Since the affluent elite in Mexico have no reason to swim the Rio Grande, I doubt either Randall or I expect illegal immigrants represent Mexico's best and brightest. They represent the best and brightest among Mexico's poor.

Proborders said at January 9, 2004 11:43 AM:

Bob, about 1 in 5 people in Mexico age 25-64 have completed senior secondary school.

If adult immigrants age 25-64 from Mexico were predominately from Mexico's best educated 20%, most adult Mexican immigrants age 25-64 in the US would have a high school diploma or its Mexican equivalent.


Bob Badour said at January 9, 2004 5:29 PM:

Proborders,

Have you considered what your statistics might say about how many Mexicans aged 35 to 64 have already emigrated--legally or otherwise?

How does your post address what I said about Mexico's affluent elite? What if Mexico's affluent elite comprise the top 20% of Mexicans?

Fly said at January 9, 2004 10:26 PM:

This article by By Jonah Goldberg at NRO parallels my own thoughts on Mexican immigration.

http://www.nationalreview.com/goldberg/goldberg200401091136.asp

“Once you accept that these eight million illegals are here and that — contrary to dreams of a few on the far right — there's no way we're going to be able to bounce them out of the country en masse, your spectrum of policy options shrinks mightily. The majority of these folks have jobs here. Suddenly yanking them from their jobs isn't a realistic option. Even less realistic is the expectation that an already overextended government could do it even if it wanted to. And even less realistic than that is the notion that any politician would ever try.”

“I'm one of those guys who probably would agree to open the borders if there were a) no welfare state and b) a nationwide consensus on the importance of assimilation.”

“A more prosperous Mexico is still the only guaranteed way of permanently reducing the flow of illegal immigrants from that country. And not just illegal Mexican immigrants. If Mexico were rich, the apparatus for bringing in non-Mexican immigrants would be dismantled.”

Randall’s point that Mexico’s current political and economic systems aren’t promising for a future rich Mexico is well stated. However even with that discouraging history, I’m still optimistic that the US can transform Mexico more easily than Iraq. The attempt should be made.

Randall: “Expelling illegals: It would not be too disruptive because it would happen gradually. It would take a few years to do it. The labor markets increase and decrease the number of people employed by millions from year to year. The lost labor would represent far less in lost economic value produced than in the proportionate number of people involved because those people make so little and are far less productive than the average worker in the US economy. Also, many now-unemployed American workers would be hired as replacements.”

We may be in agreement. Depends on how one “expels illegals”. I would gradually change our labor and social laws to make immigrant labor less attractive to employers. I’d make social services less accessible. Make it less attractive for an immigrant to come to the US and hard to stay here without a decent job. ID everyone, citizens and immigrants alike so that we can control who lives within our borders. Let the changed social and economic environment “expel illegals”.

ProBorders: “The world's human population is about 6.3 billion (http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/ipc/popclockw). China's population is 1.3 billion (http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/ipc/idbrank.pl). India's population is 1.1 billion. Should 1 out of 6 immigrants be from China? Should 1 out of 6 immigrants be from India. There are a billion Moslems. Should 1 out of 6 immigrants be a Moslem? Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Russia, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Japan all have more people than Mexico has. Should there be more immigrants from each of the countries just mentioned than from Mexico?”

I don’t think the US owes the rest of the world anything. I favor an immigration policy that promotes the long-term interests of the US and its citizens. So I don’t favor proportional immigration from all the countries of the world and am very concerned about massive Mexican immigration leading to separate Spanish-speaking regions.

I’m concerned about the US. Where we are now, in five years, in twenty, in fifty. I want an immigration policy that makes the US strong. I am not motivated by what a socially conscious person thinks is fair or right.

My purpose in posting was to explore the possibility that controlled immigration at levels that hurt individual US citizens might benefit the US in the long run and thus indirectly benefit the citizen. Given the present disastrous state of immigration I want to explore real solutions.

I don’t think there is any question that the US benefits when immigrants are skilled, educated, intelligent, and share Western values. I want to explore whether under changed social laws the US might benefit from unskilled immigration. How might immigrants be required to pay for the social services they use? What level of immigration would be acceptable? How might we manage the worst effects? How do we insure assimilation?

I’m concerned about the demographic situation facing countries in Europe and Japan and Russia. As their populations age and shrink their national prospects don’t look good. How might the US avoid a similar fate?

Mark said at January 10, 2004 5:32 AM:

Randall, if the US were to put up a border, should it follow Isreal's policy and place the border INSIDE Mexican territory, saying we need a "security buffer"?

Randall Parker said at January 10, 2004 10:46 AM:

Fly, Jonah's attitude reminds me of the attitudes of much of the Left about the Soviet Union back in the 1970s and 1980s as something that we just have to accept that can not ever come to an end. It reminds me of the attitudes of those who thought that high marginal tax rates of 70% or higher were a permanent fixture. It reminds me of so many other things in history that were considered true because the political will would never exist to change them. Some things can not change or improve because they truly are innately the way they are (barring some technological advance). Other things are political problems which could be solved with sufficient will. It just takes getting enough people or the right people riled up to want to change them.

One big problem with the attitude of acceptance about illegals is that it always leads to asylum and then to a new wave of illegals as the asylum beneficiaries use their legal status to move into different jobs and thereby open up jobs for a new round of illegals. Plus, the asylum beneficiaries bring up their families. Acceptance leads to asylum leads to more illegal immigration.

Only the deportation of existing illegals will cause others to stop trying to come here.

As for whether we could benefit from unskilled immigration under changed social laws. We would still have to pay to educate their kids. Do you think you can convince the majority to outlaw emergency treatment of illegals in hospitals? I think we'd have a much much better chance of convincing the majority to build a wall. Also, the Mexicans make up a much larger percentage of California prison inmates than of the California population at large. How can we change social laws to lower the costs of crime by lots of low skilled immigrants?

Also, think about the benefit side of the equation: If people are getting paid very low wages then that is the market's way of saying that their economic value is low. They are not producing all that much of value. Therefore if we are getting some kind of benefit then that benefit must not be very large. Contrast that with all the costs. How much could the costs be lowered? Some of them seem fixed unless you have a great idea for how to lower, say the costs of incarceration or of education by a factor of two. Even if you had an idea for how to lower the cost of education (and vouchers appear to do so btw) the populace at large would see it as a lowering of quality.

Mark, I don't see any need to place anything on Mexican territory. The US has a recognized border with Mexico. Contrast this with Israel where lots of countries do not even recognize its existence as legitimate let alone what its borders should be (and Israel is correct in arguing that it has no recognized borders with the West Bank). We do not have terrorists sponsored by a neighboring state's own government coming over the border. We have not fought wars on that border since some time in the 19th century. The United States faces no serious military enemies in the Western hemisphere beyond states that might be too easy on terrorists in their midst.

Proborders said at January 10, 2004 12:16 PM:

Bob, how would you change the current immigration system?

It seems that Mexican immigrants age 25-64 living in this country (http://www.cis.org/articles/2001/mexico/labor.html) are more likely than age 25-64 Mexicans living in Mexico to have completed senior secondary school. Of course, many Mexican immigrants who have completed senior secondary school have graduated from high school in the United States of America.

However, a lower percentage of Mexican immigrants age 25-64 living in this country have a bachelor's (or its Mexican equivalent) degree or higher degree (http://www.cis.org/articles/2001/mexico/labor.html) than age 25-64 Mexicans living in Mexico.

In 1970 there were fewer than 800,000 Mexican immigrants living in the USA (http://www.cis.org/articles/2001/mexico/release.html). In 1990 the number of Mexican immigrants in the USA was 4.2 million (http://www.cis.org/articles/2003/back1203.html#table3). From 1990 to 2000 the Mexican immigrant population more than doubled with a 2000 Mexican immigrant population of 9.2 million.

Fly, the Social Security card could be considered to be a national identity card although it is not a card with a picture ID.

All employers should be required to verify that the Social Security numbers of their employees are valid. If a Social Security number for a particular worker is not valid, the worker should be told of the problem. If the worker cannot provide a valid Social Security number that is his/her correct Social Security number, the worker should be fired.

If employers were to consistently fire workers who don't have proper Social Security numbers, many, if not most, illegal aliens would, I think, voluntarily return to their country of origin.

I currently oppose a new mass amnesty program. It is unfair to implement a new mass amnesty program without first allowing prospective immigrants on waiting lists to immigrate to this country.

I think that it is better to have increased legal immigration (and very few illegal aliens in the country) than to have the current immigration system under which there are millions of illegal aliens working in the country, however.

Even though most adult Mexican immigrants have not completed senior secondary school, it seems that most US-born Mexican Americans adults are high school graduates.

Quoting from "Impossible Dream or Distant Reality? Republican Efforts to Attract Latino Voters" by James G. Gimpel and Karen Kaufmann :

There can be little question that high levels of immigration have been a boon for Democrats, allowing them to import large numbers of impoverished, mostly unskilled Latino immigrants who, once naturalized, add significant numbers to the Democratic base in the major immigrant-receiving states. The Hispanic population surged by 58 percent between 1990 and 2000, largely through immigration. Between 1980 and 2000, Hispanic voter registration more than doubled. About one-third of the Latino population is under age 18, meaning that many more will be entering the electorate in the next ten years. The sustained growth of the Hispanic population, coupled with its increasing political muscle, will continue to have major political ramifications for the balance of party support, tipping once-competitive states to the Democratic side and turning once-solidly Republican states competitive. Immigration reduction, from this point of view, is likely to be one of the few pathways to Republican survival in California, and even Texas.

In light of the assembled facts, the Republicans may want to think long and hard about current proposals to grant amnesty to immigrants illegally living in the country. From a Republican standpoint, legalizing the status of illegal aliens is another path to electoral defeat. A Republican vote in favor of amnesty is likely to be read by Latino political leaders as a "mixed signal" — not enough to demonstrate true commitment. Once naturalized and mobilized, these voters will be almost certain Democratic constituents, regardless of how Republicans vote on amnesty.


Proborders said at January 10, 2004 12:21 PM:

Correction:

Quoting from "Impossible Dream or Distant Reality? Republican Efforts to Attract Latino Voters" by James G. Gimpel and Karen Kaufmann :

There can be little question that high levels of immigration have been a boon for Democrats, allowing them to import large numbers of impoverished, mostly unskilled Latino immigrants who, once naturalized, add significant numbers to the Democratic base in the major immigrant-receiving states. The Hispanic population surged by 58 percent between 1990 and 2000, largely through immigration. Between 1980 and 2000, Hispanic voter registration more than doubled. About one-third of the Latino population is under age 18, meaning that many more will be entering the electorate in the next ten years. The sustained growth of the Hispanic population, coupled with its increasing political muscle, will continue to have major political ramifications for the balance of party support, tipping once-competitive states to the Democratic side and turning once-solidly Republican states competitive. Immigration reduction, from this point of view, is likely to be one of the few pathways to Republican survival in California, and even Texas.

In light of the assembled facts, the Republicans may want to think long and hard about current proposals to grant amnesty to immigrants illegally living in the country. From a Republican standpoint, legalizing the status of illegal aliens is another path to electoral defeat. A Republican vote in favor of amnesty is likely to be read by Latino political leaders as a "mixed signal" — not enough to demonstrate true commitment. Once naturalized and mobilized, these voters will be almost certain Democratic constituents, regardless of how Republicans vote on amnesty.

Proborders said at January 10, 2004 12:30 PM:

The above paragraph starting with "In light of" is part of "Impossible Dream or Distant Reality? Republican Efforts to Attract Latino Voters" by James G. Gimpel and Karen Kaufmann and is posted at http://www.cis.org/articles/2001/back901.html.

Fly said at January 11, 2004 12:20 PM:

Randall: “As for whether we could benefit from unskilled immigration under changed social laws. We would still have to pay to educate their kids. Do you think you can convince the majority to outlaw emergency treatment of illegals in hospitals? I think we'd have a much much better chance of convincing the majority to build a wall. Also, the Mexicans make up a much larger percentage of California prison inmates than of the California population at large. How can we change social laws to lower the costs of crime by lots of low skilled immigrants?”

These are exactly the issues I wanted to discuss.

I believe a secure national ID system combined with a national database on aliens would lower the cost of crime by low skilled immigrants (and immigrant criminals). Requiring a sponsoring employer as a condition for remaining in the US would also help. (The present Social Security Card is too insecure. I’m suggesting a picture ID with embedded biometric data that could be scanned to get an immediate database report indicating that the person is a citizen with no outstanding warrants.)

Perhaps we need a two-tiered education, health, and social welfare program. One size doesn’t fit all needs. Universal health care might be a reality today if it could be severely restricted to low cost treatment with significant societal benefit. I’d be willing to pay for every child’s vaccination but not for an indigent’s heart transplant.

As a society we need more options than “no health care” or “very expensive health care”. No education or very expensive education.

Randall: “Also, think about the benefit side of the equation: If people are getting paid very low wages then that is the market's way of saying that their economic value is low. They are not producing all that much of value. Therefore if we are getting some kind of benefit then that benefit must not be very large. Contrast that with all the costs. How much could the costs be lowered? Some of them seem fixed unless you have a great idea for how to lower, say the costs of incarceration or of education by a factor of two. Even if you had an idea for how to lower the cost of education (and vouchers appear to do so btw) the populace at large would see it as a lowering of quality.”

If the labor value is low (and I believe it is low) and societal cost is high, then I want to rationalize the economics. Find a way to tie the societal costs to the labor. (If some US farms can’t compete without artificially cheap labor then those farms should go out of business.) I don’t think that can be done unless the “illegal labor market” is brought back into our legal system with laws that are enforced and with real penalties. In my opinion there is more political will for altering labor laws and social programs than for massive deportation. (I believe the social will exists but fear the court system or entrenched political elites would stop needed change, e.g. California Prop. 187)


The world faces very turbulent times for the next several decades. (Not only from terrorism but also from science/technology advances.)

One US survival strategy could be Fortress America. Keep most others out and focus on keeping our own citizens safe and economically secure. Only admit high value immigrants who accept Western values. The future world might be divided into armed camps with wealthy nations next door to regions with resentful masses of poor with little regard for life. (I think building a wall and then deporting all illegal immigrants could lead to this outcome.)

Another strategy would be globalization of Western values. By default this is occurring today. I believe the source of most anti-Americanism is fear that US values are displacing local traditional values. (One irony is that these aren’t “US values” as groups in the US are also threatened. However from outside the US it appears to be a US cultural invasion or economic US imperialism.) Immigration would be managed to preserve and project US values and power. English would be the common language but there would be loyal Americans who shared language, cultural, and ethnic ties with every country in the world. The resulting two-way flow of ideas, culture, commerce should give the US a lasting advantage over more insular, homogeneous nations such as China. In this model the US becomes the world. (Not through military or economic conquest but through being the vital center, the most important node.)

Whether we follow the first, the second, or some other strategy, the US will need to manage immigration. Uncontrolled immigration and a sub culture living outside the law lead to chaos.

Fly said at January 11, 2004 12:34 PM:

ProBorders: “In light of the assembled facts, the Republicans may want to think long and hard about current proposals to grant amnesty to immigrants illegally living in the country. From a Republican standpoint, legalizing the status of illegal aliens is another path to electoral defeat. A Republican vote in favor of amnesty is likely to be read by Latino political leaders as a "mixed signal" — not enough to demonstrate true commitment. Once naturalized and mobilized, these voters will be almost certain Democratic constituents, regardless of how Republicans vote on amnesty.”

The above has too much a flavor of identity politics for my taste. I’m neither Republican nor Democrat. I don’t believe all or even most Latinos or immigrants will vote or react the same way. (Look at how many Latinos voted for Arnold and how many legal immigrants are against amnesty for illegals.) I like to believe that national policies may be promoted by both Republicans and Democrats that will benefit all races.

Randall Parker said at January 11, 2004 3:40 PM:

Fly, There is a consistent 20 to 30 point gap between the white vote and the Hispanic vote. When more whites vote Republican usually more Hispanics do too. But the gap does not close. It is not reasonable to expect the gap to close. The Hispanics see themselves as having different interests and objectively speaking they do. Two and a half times as many lack medical insurance. They make less on average. They have less education on average, even in the second and third generation and their incomes are substantially lower even in the second and third generation.

You may not like identity politics. But that does not make it go away.

Arnold's Hispanic vote: his white vote was much higher and I bet the white-Hispanic gap was just as big as it usually is. I don't have the figures in front of me but that is what I recall reading in post-election analyses.

As for your contention that a wall on the border with Mexico will lead to the world dividing into rich and poor countries: it is already divided into rich and poor countries with some in between. Mexico is already much poorer than the US and the gap is not closing. It has been that way for a very long time. I fail to see how deportation of illegals will lead to this outcome. I think that analysis misses one incredibly big point: the vast bulk (and by that I mean more than 99%) of the poor people are already not in the United States. Deporting 5 or 10 million illegals will not increase the size of the poor of Third World poor people by even 1 whole percentage point.

One recurring mistake I see in a lot of analyses is the enormous exaggeration of the extent of the help that the US extends to the poor by letting such a small percentage of them immigrate to the US. There are bllions of poor out there in the world. Grasp this fact and then it becomes obvious that US immigration policy is going to do little to help or hurt the vast bulk of the poor.

Fly said at January 11, 2004 10:56 PM:

(I hope I’m correctly summarizing our respective views and am not putting words in your mouth. If I err, I apologize in advance.)

Randall, I believe we seek a similar goal. We both want an end to the present policy that condones and rewards illegal immigration. We both want drastically reduced Hispanic immigration. (In my case because Spanish-speaking regions will hurt the national unity.) We both want immigrants to pay for their own social services including education and medical. We both want an immigration policy that favors the skilled, educated, and intelligent. We’d both want to limit or curtail the much-abused family reunification policy.

We both feel that uneducated Mexican immigrants provide little benefit to this country while putting a strain on social services.

We differ in that I believe these goals could be accomplished without a wall and mass deportations. By stressing the fact that illegal immigrants take jobs, lower wages, and strain social services, I believe many US Hispanics would support policies that lead to reduced immigration. By enforcing labor laws on employers, the government might be seen as helping Hispanics. Polarizing divisions might be avoided.

We differ in that I believe that arresting and deporting millions of illegal aliens will have a bad effect on US internal security and will make enemies of Mexicans who would have been friends.

I also feel (without much justification) that the jobs provided to Mexican workers and the money they send home helps the Mexican economy. (I do think it is in US interest to fix Mexico’s economic policies. Not sure what is needed but we need to be doing something. Better to fix the problem now before it gets worse. The US has lots to offer Mexico so we should have plenty of influence.)

I agree that immigration to the US doesn’t directly lower the poverty level in third world countries (except for Mexico). However I do know that people from Taiwan and India worked in the US for decades and then returned home to start businesses that jump started their home economies. These were exceptional people, not uneducated peasants; still they might serve as a model of how immigration to US can help other countries. (Iranian immigrants may play a role in overthrowing the Iranian theocracy.)

I believe the US will need lots of friends in the coming years. Real friendship based on bilateral mutually supportive policy. Building walls and deporting millions and damaging a neighbor’s economy might make it harder to find the friends we need.

In a few decades we may have a different problem, an aging and declining population. If, as I think likely, biological and computer enhancement drastically improves learning and analytic ability, the immigrants would be strong assets. Even if I’m wrong population size does contribute to a nation’s strength even when the average citizen's quality of life declines.

Randall Parker said at January 12, 2004 9:53 AM:

Fly,

With illegal aliens within our borders we have 3 choices:

  • Give them amnesty.
  • Let them stay here illegally.
  • Deport them.

The first option is what Bush proposes and it has been tried before. This causes even more illegals to come to wait for the next amnesty. The ones granted amnesty create a social environment and web of contacts that facilitate additional illegal immigration. So I find this option unacceptable.

THe next option is what we have now and it follows on the heels of previous amnesties. Illegals keep coming in. They require medical care, police, jails, domestic violence intervention programs, and other services at much higher rates than the native born population.

The third option is to deport them. This removes the incentive for additional illegal immigration. Illegal immigration is like any other criminal activity: if the benefit exceeds the cost then lots of people will engage in it. We can't stop illegal immigration unless we make the benefit that flows to the illegals less than the costs of trying to come here. It is that simple.

How will deportations have a bad effect on US internal security?

Enforcing labor laws against the hiring of illegal aliens: I am for it as well. There is no single policy that will work. But this is an important one. There is one big problem with this approach: How to make it easy on employers to determine whether a job applicant has a legal right to work in the United States?

We know how to build a wall or fly UAVs near the border or send more people to guard the border. That is a policy option which can actually be implmented. Also, many people become identified as illegals within the US when arrested or in a variety of other situations. Those could be deported rather than released back out onto the street with just a court order to leave the country which they proceed to ignore (which amazingly enough is the case with hundreds of thousands). Police could be authorized to arrest identified illegals and hold them for quick deportation. I can picture how that would work. But how to make it easy on employers to decide who is illegal? We can't have every employer hiring detectives to investigate each job applicant. There are tens of millions of foreign born in the US today and many have a legal right to be here. So what to do about that?

So Fly, how would you implement your idea for enforcing the hiring of only legals? How would you make it easy for employers to check on the legality of employees? How would you make it easy for labor law regulatory agencies to do large numbers of checks on employers (including construction firms whose workers are at different job sites every day) to verify that the labor laws are being obeyed?

Oh, and about our "friends" in Mexico: Have you actually followed Mexican foreign policy positions? In spite of our taking in tens of millions of Mexicans we can count on Mexico to oppose us in international fora and to routinely criticise the US. As I recently posted, France provides more support for the US position against terrorism than Mexico does. Taking in tens of millions of illegals is not worth it to try to buy Mexico's support for US foreign policy. We do not lose anything by stopping the influx of illegals from Mexico and by deporting those who are here.

Proborders said at January 12, 2004 1:08 PM:

Fly, you seem to favor an amnesty (or a form of amnesty) for illegal aliens. Would you feel the same way if most illegal aliens in the United States were black Africans or Moslems from the Middle East?

Hispanic illegal aliens and their families would be the main beneficiaries of an amnesty for illegal aliens. How is this fair for the majority of the US population (that is not Hispanic)?

As the Hispanic population increases, there will likely be greater Hispanic demands for proportional representation (if Hispanics are x% of the population, x% of the physicians, lawyers, school teachers, etc. should be Hispanic). Affirmative action preferences for blacks and Hispanics can lead to better academically qualified white and Asian college and job applicants being discriminated against in favor of less academically qualified blacks and Hispanics.

Do you favor affirmative action preferences for black and Hispanic job and college applicants even if it means that lesser academically qualified black and Hispanic applicants are routinely selected over better academically qualified whites and Asians?

Arnold is a moderate (or maybe even a liberal) Republican in my opinion. He may be fiscally conservative; however, he is pro-choice. Arnold did not favor a mass deportation of illegal aliens while he was campaigning for governor. Arnold in fact seemed to imply that he favored an amnesty for illegal aliens.

Would Arnold have received as many Latino votes if he advocated a mass deportation of illegal aliens from California? Probably not.

Many blacks are anti-abortion, yet blacks are probably the most likely group of Americans to vote for Democrat candidates. Like Hispanics, blacks are a group whose adult individuals have less formal education, lower incomes, and less wealth than non-Hispanic white adults.

Some jobs have many benefits. Other jobs have no benefits; only the hourly wage.

If a state were to implement a universal health plan that is paid for by employers, that state could loose jobs and businesses to other states. California has lost some jobs to Arizona and Nevada due to lower worker's compensation costs in Arizona and Nevada than in California.

The national minimum wage could be increased.

Fly said at January 13, 2004 12:25 AM:

ProBorders: “Fly, you seem to favor an amnesty (or a form of amnesty) for illegal aliens.”

I don’t favor giving amnesty for nothing. I want to encourage illegal aliens to register and be monitored. I want our government to know who is here and what they are up to. Amnesty is the carrot, the stick is deporting all who don’t register. Without amnesty I don’t think there is sufficient political will to deport illegals. Give illegals a “fair” way to abide by US laws and I believe it will be much easier to enforce those laws. Once immigration is controlled, the nation can debate how many should come in, who they should be, and what services they should receive. I would favor the “wall and deportation policy” over amnesty if the stick weren’t part of the plan.

“Would you feel the same way if most illegal aliens in the United States were black Africans or Moslems from the Middle East?”

It’s hard to know how I’d react in that hypothetical case. In the case of non-Muslim black Africans new immigrants might just increase minority problems. (Or possibly not since new black immigrants don’t seem to share the sense of resentment and entitlement common in many US native blacks.) I’d likely still opt for amnesty.

Muslims from the ME are a different case. I’ve worked with a very bright technologist from Pakistan who I believe is an asset to the US and who doesn’t seem to subscribe to fundamentalist teachings. So I favor some Muslim immigration. However I don’t believe in extending tolerance to intolerant people or cultures. With the present terrorist threat I’d be careful what Muslims I’d admit. (Nor do I believe there is any US political problem in deporting illegal Muslims.)

So yeah, I do feel that Mexicans (and to lesser degree other Latinos and blacks from the Caribbean) are a special case. I don’t believe they are an active threat to our society and we share a very long border.
I also don’t see Hispanics and blacks politically combining effectively. (Now I’m talking race politics. Sigh.) Both groups are competing for the same jobs and influence.

“Hispanic illegal aliens and their families would be the main beneficiaries of an amnesty for illegal aliens. How is this fair for the majority of the US population (that is not Hispanic)?”

I’m not personally very motivated by what is fair. I want solutions that work. I do know that “fairness” is an important US societal value and must be considered. One problem in our society today is that different groups have very different ideas as to what is fair.

“As the Hispanic population increases, there will likely be greater Hispanic demands for proportional representation (if Hispanics are x% of the population, x% of the physicians, lawyers, school teachers, etc. should be Hispanic). Affirmative action preferences for blacks and Hispanics can lead to better academically qualified white and Asian college and job applicants being discriminated against in favor of less academically qualified blacks and Hispanics.
Do you favor affirmative action preferences for black and Hispanic job and college applicants even if it means that lesser academically qualified black and Hispanic applicants are routinely selected over better academically qualified whites and Asians?”

I don’t favor affirmative action, quotas, or minority “set asides”. It was likely necessary in the past but is now doing more harm than good. (Talented minorities are tarred by assumptions of inferiority while untalented minorities are being set up for failure.) I suspect that the human Haploid Map project will help answer whether minorities are being discriminated against in hiring and school admissions. After that I expect affirmative action programs to take a big hit.

“Many blacks are anti-abortion, yet blacks are probably the most likely group of Americans to vote for Democrat candidates. Like Hispanics, blacks are a group whose adult individuals have less formal education, lower incomes, and less wealth than non-Hispanic white adults.
Some jobs have many benefits. Other jobs have no benefits; only the hourly wage.
If a state were to implement a universal health plan that is paid for by employers, that state could loose jobs and businesses to other states. California has lost some jobs to Arizona and Nevada due to lower worker's compensation costs in Arizona and Nevada than in California.”

Agreed. Likewise the communities with the most generous social services attract to most indigents.

I’d prefer we didn’t have massive illegal immigration of unskilled Spanish-speaking aliens. I’d rather we not share a border with a poor nation. But we do. My suggestions are based on what I think is possible to achieve and what the likely outcomes will be.

Maybe there is or could be the political will to build the wall and deport all the illegal aliens. Maybe large segments or our populace wouldn’t refuse to enforce the national laws. Maybe the US Hispanics wouldn’t feel betrayed by the rest of the US. Maybe Mexico wouldn’t be hurt or if hurt not resentful or if resentful unable to hurt our country. I certainly don’t know what the future holds. All I have are guesses.

As for universal health care, here’s a postscript on how I might alter our society if I had a magic wand. I know it’s a fantasy. Can’t just go changing things willy-nilly:

What would the US be like if every adult citizen were guaranteed $5,000 per year. In addition every citizen would get free minimal health care that included preventive medicine, basic dental and vision, and other medical services deemed beneficial to the whole society. Anything beyond the minimum is the responsibility of the individual. Companies would not be responsible for employee health care, medical insurance, unemployment insurance, Social Security, or retirement. Only wages. Any wage one earned would be on top of that guaranteed minimum. All welfare benefits would be ended. No government supported housing. No aid to families with dependent children. It wouldn’t be enough for people to live in desirable locations and buy cars, but one could survive modestly. If you want more than the basic minimum then you have to earn it.

US companies and citizens would then have a competitive advantage over foreign companies and labor. Immigrants wouldn’t get the $5,000 but would get the minimal medical. That should give a strong advantage to US workers while still allowing immigrants to take those jobs that no one else wants.

This would be paid for by applying a national consumption tax to all purchases. Raise the base level income and the consumption tax would automatically raise. This might keep politicians from raising the base level unwisely.

There would be no shame attached to getting this income as everyone would get it no matter how rich. By living frugally a person could focus on education or developing other skills. Or build their own business.

In the future, increases in productivity may mean it is no longer possible to provide meaningful jobs for all or even most citizens. This plan might allow a country to balance the need for productive work while providing a support system for all citizens.

Fly said at January 13, 2004 12:29 AM:

Randall: “The first option is what Bush proposes and it has been tried before. This causes even more illegals to come to wait for the next amnesty. The ones granted amnesty create a social environment and web of contacts that facilitate additional illegal immigration. So I find this option unacceptable.”

Yeah, I don’t like advocating failed policies. We need a big stick with that amnesty. I worry that if congress passes the needed tough laws then the courts will gut ‘em. Or California just won’t enforce them. Lots of ways this could go wrong.

“We can't stop illegal immigration unless we make the benefit that flows to the illegals less than the costs of trying to come here. It is that simple.”

I agree. That’s why I want to change the social and economic situation to discourage rather than encourage illegal immigration.

“So Fly, how would you implement your idea for enforcing the hiring of only legals? How would you make it easy for employers to check on the legality of employees? How would you make it easy for labor law regulatory agencies to do large numbers of checks on employers (including construction firms whose workers are at different job sites every day) to verify that the labor laws are being obeyed?”

National picture ID with secure embedded biometric information and ID scanners at local sites connected over Internet to a secure national database giving the status of all people in the country. Yeah, this is a big step toward a police state but considering 9/11 and the dangers coming from advanced biotech I think we are going to have to do it regardless of what happens with the illegals. I see it becoming the only form of ID acceptable for licenses, leases, or any secure transaction. (Might also help cure the epidemic of identity theft.) Basically it would be hard to live in the US without a national ID card. I think the local police would have to help with enforcement. Likely certain industries would require special monitoring. (Sigh, more red tape, more regulation, I don’t like it. Guess that’s one reason the illegal situation has gotten this bad.)

“Oh, and about our "friends" in Mexico: Have you actually followed Mexican foreign policy positions? In spite of our taking in tens of millions of Mexicans we can count on Mexico to oppose us in international fora and to routinely criticise the US. As I recently posted, France provides more support for the US position against terrorism than Mexico does. Taking in tens of millions of illegals is not worth it to try to buy Mexico's support for US foreign policy. We do not lose anything by stopping the influx of illegals from Mexico and by deporting those who are here.”

Yes, I have followed just how helpful our “friends” in Canada and Mexico have been in Iraq and in helping the US fight terrorism. I do believe political payback is in order. However our payback should hurt them more than it hurts us. Right now they are acting like neutrals rather than allies. I don’t want US policy to turn Mexico into an enemy. (Many countries feel culturally invaded and economically bullied by the US. Comes from our being so successful. Thus it’s easy for politicians to gain support by bashing the US. Happens all over the world. In the past there wasn’t a penalty for this behavior. Under Bush, there is.) I do believe in playing hardball with Mexico. We should be able to exact something for amnesty. Bush might approach Fox and say, “Look I’m doing all I can but without Mexico making some major changes I just can’t get this amnesty proposal passed.” If Mexico isn’t cooperative, Bush could then build the wall and deport the illegals and claim to have at least tried a softer approach.

Bob Badour said at January 15, 2004 8:37 PM:

Proborders,

You asked what I would do with current US immigration policy. I would let me in then close the door behind me.

More seriously, I would severely restrict immigration to those with something to offer, and I would favour deporting all illegal immigrants.

If I had no skills and no prospects, I would immigrate illegally. As it is, I have too much to lose by breaking the law.

Regards,
Bob

Nichole said at May 21, 2007 10:59 AM:

thats why our government is loosing money, they should just not put up the wall and move their homes to a different land source. and not be this way


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