2005 July 26 Tuesday
Other Than Mexican Flood Increasing At US-Mexican Border

What happens when the law goes unenforced? At the risk of stating the obvious and insulting my readers: When the law is not enforced more people break the law. The word has gotten out to an increasing number of "Other Than Mexicans" that if they can cross the border from Mexico into the United States that they will not be deported even if caught.

Already this year, the number of non-Mexican apprehensions has far outpaced last year's total in just eight months. And while they are still a relatively small percentage compared with the number of illegal Mexicans, critics say the federal government's policy in dealing with them is far more dangerous.

Because OTMs, or "Other Than Mexicans" as the Border Patrol classifies them, must be returned to their country of origin, they cannot be simply sent back across the southern border, as most Mexicans are. Under US law, they must be detained (in the US) pending a deportation hearing. The problem is, immigration detention centers are packed, so most OTMs are given a court summons and told to return in three months. A full 85 percent don't.

According to the Border Patrol, some 465,000 OTMs have taken advantage of this "catch and release" policy to settle here in the US. "It's an insane policy which encourages OTMs to come into the country illegally, and we shouldn't be shocked that they are coming in record numbers," says T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, which represents more than 9,000 agents.

I predict that until all OTMs caught on the border get held for deportation the number of OTMs crossing the border will continue to grow at double digit percentage rates each year. The longer the problem goes unaddressed the bigger and more expensive the fix will become. Right now we need the ability to hold perhaps at most a half million OTMs at once in detention. Eventually we will need the ability to hold millions of them.

A border barrier is already the cheapest way to stop the Mexican illegal immigrant flood. As the OTM flood increases a border barrier will also become the cheapest way to stop that as well. Estimates for the cost of Israel's barrier fence with the West Bank range upward toward $2 billion dollars with per mile costs ranging from $3 million to $3.5 million to $4.15 million. The total US-Mexican border runs 1951 miles. Taking the $4.15 million per mile border barrier cost the total cost of a barrier on the full length of the US-Mexican border runs to $8.1 billion dollars. But even if we doubled the cost per mile to make concrete barriers taller with perhaps another fence layer and put more concertina wire on the barrier layers in order to make the barrier even harder to cross the total would be only $16 billion.

Instead of tough enforcement of immigration and border control imagine we go in the opposite direction. The gradually building flood of OTMs with no attempt made to deport most OTMs is pushing America toward de facto open borders. Where will that take us? Steve Sailer says if America adopts total open borders as much as 1.5 billion people would try immigrate to the United States.

What about in the long run? We have two informative examples:

  1. The U.S. maintains an open border with its territory of Puerto Rico. One-fourth of all Puerto Ricans live on the U.S. mainland, according to Harvard economist George Borjas, and that proportion is kept down only by paying generous benefits to Puerto Ricans who stay home.
  2. There are currently 106 million people in Mexico and approximately 25 million people of Mexican descent in the United States. In other words, just under 1/5th of all Mexicans in the world now live in America. And they got here without an official open borders plan.

So what does that imply?

There are currently over six billion people who live neither in America nor Mexico. So, if one-fourth of the rest wanted to move to America, as happened with Puerto Ricans, that would be 1.5 additional billion people, compared to the current American population of 296 million.

If we formally gave up enforcing rules on immigration then over a few decade period the United States would grow to have a population of about 1.8 billion people. One has to be a lunatic to want such an outcome. Therefore it is not implausible that Bush and the neocons want exactly that. Why? They have faith in the most foolish ideas and consider embracing such ideas a virtue.

Maybe they want to make America become the most populated country in the world in order to outcompete China. But in order to outcompete China in the long run what we need is more brains, not more dummies. Totally open borders would bring in huge waves of dummies while the smarter people would recoil with horror from the thought of moving to a country with nearly two billion people speaking a "Tower of Babel" of languages. The racial and religious conflicts would lead to a civil war and dictatorship.

If you are not aware of just how dumb Bush's immigration policies and proposals really are I strongly urge you to read my post "Thinking About Bush's Less Than Half-Baked Worker Permit Proposal".

Update: Plans to extend the US-Mexican border barrier at San Diego the final 5 miles to the ocean put the cost at $5 million per mile even with special environmental restoration costs added in.

The project would denude a swath of vegetation about the width of a six-lane freeway. It would cut across a habitat preserve included in the Multiple Species Conservation Program, a system of interconnected open-space areas established by the federal and state governments.

To offset the project's damage to the habitat preserve, the Border Patrol has offered to restore plants to 85 miles of dirt roads or 145 acres that will no longer be necessary to patrol the border.


The final five miles of the project could cost an estimated $25 million, including $11 million to offset the loss of rare wildlife habitat.

With a barrier running the full length of the US-Mexico border there'd be no need for such large efforts at environmental harm abatement on most of its length. Note that the barrier width is similar to that of a 6 lane freeway and the United States has tens of thousands of miles of such freeways in the interstates highway system.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2005 July 26 12:43 PM  Immigration Law Enforcement

John S Bolton said at July 26, 2005 2:56 PM:

Avoiding the costs of just one very common third world disease, hepatitis requiring dialysis, would pay for the barrier in one year. That is, if 100,000 such cases were prevented from flopping on to our medical system. If the wall's cost were amortized over 20 years , the avoidance of fewer than 20,000 such cases would finance the structure. Free immigration into a wastrel welfare state is guaranteed to result in despotism; nothing else can levy the taxes necessary for such a ruinous extravagance. Anarcholibertarians tell us that the welfare state would spontaneously wither away in such circumstances, but the history of modern war shows that extraordinary demands on the public treasury are met by resort to intensifying despotism, war powers, emergency powers, or whatever euphemism might be picked to describe it. Officials have always dreamed of gaining power like this; now tolerance of mass immigration allows for this power to be won, even in the countries which have been the most stalwart against dictatorship. Anyone who doesn't want mass immigration on to net public subsidy is just smeared by these power hungry officials and journalistic mentalities. They have to use ad hominem because there is no rational argument for deliberatley increasing on a huge scale, the aggression on the net taxpayer.

Rick Darby said at July 27, 2005 8:17 AM:

One doesn't want to descend into conspiracy theories or ascribe treasonable motives to the president and his advisors, but I am simply at a loss to account in any other way for why they should eagerly embrace pro-immigration policies that can have no other effect than to turn the United States into a Balkanized, overpopulated Third World country. As much as I disagree with many of the neo-conservatives' ideas, they are surely not stupid enough to imagine that they can buy enough border-jumper votes to stay permanently in power; they cannot believe that a post-industrial economy needs millions of new unskilled workers.

So what explanation is left? In the absence of any rational, if misguided, motivation, one is drawn to fears that would otherwise seem paranoid.

What about starting an organization that would buy land -- like those environmental groups that do so to preserve its natural state -- immediately adjacent to the Mexican and Canadian borders and then build a privately owned intruder-proof fence on each parcel of land? Extreme and desperate, yes, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Then, if building private border-protection structures were declared illegal by the courts (a fair bet, given the present ideology of the federal judiciary), we would know beyond a doubt where things stand and that it's time to emigrate.

John S Bolton said at July 27, 2005 8:33 PM:

Similarities of behavior and attitude between those who share the same ideas and influences need not involve any conspiracy. Wednesday's WSJ says we need bridges not walls. Does Israel need bridges for terrorists and no walls? Do stolen goods need bridges not walls? Does our public health need bridges for lethal diseases to cross, or walls? Does a bridge like CAFTA do us good by not walling out the child labor using products of viciously exploitative region? A bridge is good, regardless of what crosses it? If so why did anyone destroy bridges that Hitler was about to cross, because they didn't know that bridges are good and defensive walls are bad? Officials want freedom for aggression, but a wall stands for freedom from aggression.

Koji said at February 26, 2006 6:06 PM:

The US is founded on cheap labor. American companies are reliant on an abundant source of cheap labor. That is why illegal immigrants are able to find work here, otherwise they would not come in the large droves we see each year.

If you want to stop illegal immigration you need to crack down at the root of the problem: American firms and employers who circumvent the law and hire illegal immigrants. These include many of the farmers, construction companies, factories, restaurants, and alot of other businesses that exploit illegal immigrants.

Shut off the source of income and you shut off illegal immigration. There would be little reason for them to come to the US if there is no chance of making any money. You dont need an expensive wall, or a border patrol (except to hunt down drug dealers and terrorists).

John said at November 12, 2010 8:59 PM:

Durring W.W.II,the axis powers of Germany had elaborate schemes of how to infiltrate the U.S. government,and topple the mighty United States. They despised democracy. Some of the schemes involved using Mexico,and offering a chance at re-conquest of Southwest land. The Bush family had business dealings,that helped finance the regime of Adolf Hitler. They met with conflict,under the trading with enemy act. They were also business partners with the
Bin Laden family,over a thirty year time period. There are obviously right wing elements,that do not consider or intend our country's best interests. It is definitely

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