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:
- 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.
- 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|