2006 May 30 Tuesday
Some Mexicans See Benefit In Border Barrier

The New York Times reports some Mexicans think a border barrier would force the Mexican government to reform how it governs Mexico.

Outside his government, several immigration experts have even begun floating the idea that real walls, not the porous ones that stand today, could be more an opportunity than an attack.

A wall could dissuade illegal immigrants from their perilous journeys across the Sonora Desert and force societies on both sides to confront their dependence on an industry characterized by exploitation, they say.

The old blame game — in which Mexico attributed illegal migration to the voracious American demand for labor and accused lawmakers of xenophobia — has given way to a far more soul-searching discussion, at least in quarters where policies are made and influenced, about how little Mexico has done to try to keep its people home.

"For too long, Mexico has boasted about immigrants leaving, calling them national heroes, instead of describing them as actors in a national tragedy," said Jorge Santibáñez, president of the College of the Northern Border. "And it has boasted about the growth in remittances" — the money immigrants send home — "as an indicator of success, when it is really an indicator of failure."

The massive outflux of Mexicans reduces the incentive of the Mexican government to educate its youth. It expects many it would educate would leave anyway. Also, all the money that Mexicans send home helps to prop up a corrupt political system.

"It's fantastic," said Primitivo Rodríguez, an immigrant activist in Mexico, when asked about plans to build walls. "It's the best thing that could happen for migrants, and for Mexico."

Mr. Rodríguez, who has served as an adviser to the Mexican government and an organizer in the United States for the American Friends Service Committee, said the porous border had for years been an important safety valve of stability for Mexico's economy, allowing elected officials to avoid creating jobs and even taking legal measures to stop the migration of an estimated 500,000 or more Mexicans a year.

Discontent that might generate demands for change instead gets translated into flight north. The Mexican government collects less than half as much taxes as a percentage of GDP as the United States does. The rich cheat on their taxes. We pay more so that they can pay less. El Presidente Jorge W. Bush likes it this way. Do you?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 May 30 08:14 PM  Immigration Border Barrier

John S Bolton said at May 31, 2006 1:02 AM:

Absolutely not
At the same time, I would prefer to reject the foreigner-firsters' framing of the terms of the debate.
I mean, that in which the foreigners' interest is treated as somehow relevant; when actually it is the responsibility of those who propose an additional increment of immigration to demonstrate how this is not only of clear net benefit to the citizenry(apparently too difficult even to attempt), and especially how it is not to be considered an increase of aggression on the net taxpayer.
We owe loyalty to such and so many of our fellow nationals as are being attacked by foreign hostiles in the above manner.
The fact that such statements as the above are even being published, is actually like a cataclysm for the undesirable immigrationists.
They repeat the old 'nation of immigrants' slogan, but that is weak and evasive; like giving us some country proverb about painting a barn roof to preserve it after the horse has been stolen.
The meaning needs to be clear and explicit. Does 'nation of immigrants' mean that there is no one here with the right to say that we owe loyalty to those of our fellow nationals here who are being attacked by foreigners, as by immigration cohorts on net public subsidy, plundering the net taxpayer? Is there no one here who can say treason, except those who advocate for prospective immigrants?
Mexico has a simple problem; tolerance of child labor, leading to excess births among the poor and less educable of their populace. We should not help them avoid solving it; it's easy and straightforward, the same as what dozens of other countries have dealt with.

Patrick said at June 2, 2006 1:46 AM:

Great big walls have been made throughout history. China/Mongolia, Roman-Britain/Scotland, and recently Israel/Palestine.

They always worked.

Sure, the Chinese wall didn't stop a major invasion every 400 years, but that wasn't the point, it was the tiny little raids that happened every few months, the villages that got burned and raped every time a group of Mongol guys decided they were bored, the larger raids whenever there was a hard winter north of the border. That's what the wall was built for, and it worked a treat. People who joke about the wall not working don't look at the facts.

One significant feature of the Chinese wall is that it INCREASED trade between the two countries. Chinese now felt safe living and working within a few 100 km of the border, and the Mongols had to trade to get what they wanted, and now had close towns they could trade with.

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