The border wall

Whoops! Where did this come from?

(The following was written by Kim G. whose blog, El Gringo Suelto, is nearly as much fun as The Unseen Moon.)

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TO THE HORROR of the Republican “establishment” (code-speak for the only people who actually benefit from Republican policies), Donald Trump is now all but the official Republican nominee for the U.S. presidency.

You don’t need me to tell you that. And at the risk of taking a turn into the unpleasantly political, I thought I’d look into one of Trump’s more controversial policies, the one that most obviously affects Mexico. Yeah, the wall.

The “proposed” wall has been described in all kinds of unpleasant language, from ridiculous, to ineffective, to racist, and in a whole lot of other derogatory ways. And I have to confess, I’ve been there along with the wall bashers until quite recently. Today, in fact, when I began to look into it seriously.

hillaryBut the sad fact is that the wall has been discussed in every way possible except truthfully. I hate to break it to you all, but there’s already a wall there.

OK, maybe not a wall exactly, but there’s a very sturdy fence along a large portion of the border, particularly the parts that are easiest to get to from anywhere in Mexico. (And, really, “what difference does it make” whether it’s a wall or a fence?)

It’s already official U.S. policy to wall off Mexico from the mainland. The legislation to build the wall was passed in 2006 during GWB’s second term with large congressional majorities. It was built over the next few years, and discussed endlessly in the press, protested by both the Fox and Calderón administrations, and derided loudly on the Left.

In short, it’s old news, established policy, business-as-usual. But don’t tell the mainstream media. They are (still!) having a field day acting like this is something new, novel, and dangerously radical, brought to mainstream discussion by a maverick Donald Trump. But it’s not.

Everyone already supports its existence, even if only tacitly. Neither Clinton nor her boss ever argued that the wall/fence should be torn down.

Clinton had the opportunity in her 2008 race for the presidency, but I don’t recall her ever advocating such a position. Nor has Obama. Nor have any congressional democrats.

So the only real point of debate across the mainstream American political spectrum is whether it should be extended or not. Is the wall effective? That’s an entirely different discussion, and frankly the one we should be having.

And there are legitimate questions about whether the wall is appropriately constructed. Parts are designed to stop only vehicles. But people can easily still walk through. (Think bollards) Like anything, it’s clearly NOT 100% effective, as any number of tunnels, catapults, and other evidence prove. (Not to mention the inconvenient fact that many illegal aliens fly into the U.S.A. on tourist visas and simply stay.)

However, from what I’ve read, the wall (where it exists) in fact does mostly work. People who’d rather cross into Southern California are now forced farther east where there’s no wall. Sadly, many of them die in the hostile desert conditions there, but that’s not an argument for letting them walk into Chula Vista, California.

Maybe extending the wall would even be a humanitarian thing to do. Publicize the heck out of it, and maybe people who otherwise would have died in the desert stay at home and try to make a go of the lives they have where they are. Or apply for an immigrant visa and get in the old-fashioned way.

So why has no one pointed out the fact that the U.S.A. already has a ten-year-old, established “wall policy”?

trumpWhy did none of Donald Trump’s Republican primary opponents point this out? Maybe Trump was right to call his opponents idiots. There’s not a whole lot of evidence to the contrary.

And as you can now see, this is not going to be an easy issue for Hillary Clinton either. She knows it’s already U.S. policy. Neither she nor her boss ever once suggested tearing it down. And unless she’s very careful, Trump is going to take her apart on this one.

And Mexico needs to stop pretending too that the wall is something new. It’s not.

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(Note from Felipe: Panama just announced it’s building a wall on its southern border to keep out illegal aliens entering from Colombia. Walls are catching on.)

(Why Trump will win big-time, according to Dilbert.)

(The Thinking Man’s Guide to Donald Trump in The American Spectator. Quite interesting.)

22 thoughts on “The border wall

  1. The “Trump Wall” is mostly a symbol of the angst over the deindustrialization of America and the scarcity of full employment, a living wage and a declining standard of living. Tens of thousands of factories have left the U.S. this century and millions of manufacturing jobs have been lost.

    Trump has tapped into this angst first highlighted by Ross Perot in 1992 in his campaign against NAFTA which has mostly been a boom for Mexicans and a bust for Americans. Immigration has also become a symbol of this angst.


    1. Hola Andres! Good points. I also think the wall is a simple, “obvious” measure to prevent people from coming into the USA. Trump is wisely sticking to simple answers to problems. Part of the frustration with the status quo is that a lot of things get argued to death when relatively simple solutions seem to be called for. And what could be simpler than a wall?




      1. I am increasingly convinced that Trump will win by a landslide. Note that this observation is not an endorsement, rather a rational analysis of the available evidence.


          1. I just read it. I like it. Really, the more I read about Trump, the more I like him. And what I really like is that he’s not a cookie-cutter conservative and he’s not a nutcase.


  2. A wall with gaps is almost no wall at all. It’s like a tow chain missing a few links or a steel door on a gingerbread house with open windows. Maybe The Donald was referring to completing the wall. But really, the wall is only a inconvenience. It won’t solve the problem. Until the problem of why people are are coming here illegally is solved, obstructions like a wall are mere inconveniences. Besides I have read more people are leaving the U.S. than entering.


    1. Hola Carlos!
      As I concede in the post, the effectiveness of the wall is what we should be discussing. But that’s not the debate we’re having. The debate is whether building a wall is some crazy new idea. And as I show, it’s not.

      That should make you think about what else about this election is being discussed in a dissembling manner.

      In my mind that is the key issue.



      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Kim. My point was essentially there is NO wall. The idea of a complete wall is new.


        1. I don’t think the concept of gaps is quite as relevant as you do. If you have to go several hundred miles, well away from roads and other means of access to find a gap, how meaningful is the gap? I don’t disagree that a continuous wall would be more effective. But I do vehemently disagree that it’s an all-or-nothing proposition, which seems to be your position. Is that correct?

          And if that’s what you believe, then how does the existence of tunnels not completely invalidate the concept of a wall to begin with?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. As I pointed out, the current obstacles are merely an inconvenience. This results in a detour of a few miles on a journey of sometimes a thousand miles. Again my point was essentially there is no wall. So why even talk about completing a wall that would not be effective. You seem to forget that the real issue should be effectiveness. That’s what makes the idea of completing the wall unreasonably. The solution to illegal immigration lies elsewhere.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. OK. I understand your position now. Wall = waste of money. Thank you!

              By the way, in my original post, I said that effectiveness was really the debate we should be having, not whether it was a novel concept.


  3. There are some things that cannot be lied away. A deep depression, a nuclear war, a failing fiat currency and the national debt.

    Our nation has dined sumptously at the Chinese restaurant. Our spoilt brats are still crying for more dessert. They want more, more, more.

    Everything should be free.

    But the Chinese waiter is approaching with the bill, and we cannot cover it. They won’t take our EBT card. The fortune cookie will contain bitter news.

    I am afraid it will not matter who wins this election.


    1. Señor Gill: “Doesn’t matter who wins” is a very popular refrain. I disagree. You think things today would not be far different if Weepy Barry had lost in 2008? The last eight years have been a presidential and global disaster of epic proportions. And Weepy Barry did it all.


    2. There’s an old saying in finance. If you owe the bank one million dollars, you have a problem. If you owe the bank a billion, the bank has a problem.

      China is the bank in this case, and we owe so much money that it’s their problem more than it’s our problem. We also own 90% of the worlds arms and nuclear bombs, so they don’t have too much leverage. And if they threaten to simply dump treasuries, Janet Yellen will buy them all in a heartbeat with freshly created money.

      Problem solved.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t doubt that Janet Yellen would do that. But the result would a massive inflation. Last month, China opened the Shanghai Gold Exchange which was mostly financed by dumping dollar denominated investments.
        They also began issuing their gold backed Yuan. It is not convertible to the dollar. And they coordinated their international payment system with the European SWIFT system.
        If one had a choice, would they take payment in a gold backed currency or would they take payment in a BS backed currency?
        Did Obama succeed in convincing the Arabs to continue selling oil in dollars?
        If the Chinese backed currency replaces the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency, then all of those dollars will flow back to the US in one way or the other.
        I may be wrong, and I hope I am. But I fear I am not.


        1. People have been predicting massive inflation from the expansion of the Fed’s balance sheet for years. And at some point they’ll probably be right. But if China decided to dump its treasuries, you can be sure of a few things. One, they’d take a loss on them, even if JY decided to sop up the excess. Two, that’d likely crash stock markets and other financial markets. Three, if that happened, the currently-strong forces of deflation would likely get even stronger. Four, the inflation would thus take a lot longer than you think.

          As for the gold-backed renminbi not being convertible into dollars, I guess that depends on whose holding them and how many dollars are offered in exchange. Since there’s already a liquid global market in gold itself, why would you want to convert dollars into a currency allegedly backed by gold controlled by an unaccountable communist country that regularly lies about its economic statistics, its banking system, and everything else of importance? Would that give you a sense of security? It wouldn’t give me a sense of security. I’d just take the gold. Or stick with the USD.

          Take a long hard look at China. It’s not going to displace the USA as the globe’s financial center or reserve currency any time soon. We may have big problems, but they’ve got massive problems.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. The lack of border enforcement over the last couple of years was a political decision by Obama to encourage mass immigration from Central America. It has overwhelmed school systems, health services, social services and law enforcement.

    Our war on drugs has made life hell for the poor in Central America and the consequences are wrecking our nation. Who benefits from this?


    1. Andres: Let’s do a little thought exercise, shall we? Lets assume the border patrol stops most people trying to walk over the border, but a fixed percentage manages to outwit them. I have no idea what that percentage is, but as I noted above, nothing is 100% effective. So lets say that 1% of would-be illegal immigrants manage to outwit the border patrol and get through.

      Now let’s say you impose a sequester and overall government agencies become a smidgen less effective. Now 1.5% of would-be illegal immigrants get through. And let’s say that for some reason, there’s a surge of would-be illegal immigrants trying due to turbulence in their home countries. And let’s say it’s extreme, so it goes up 50%. What happens to the number of illegal aliens?

      Well, first, due to the higher slip-through rate, it goes up 50%. Second, due to more people trying it also goes up 50%. Do the math on this and suddenly the number of illegal aliens entering is up 225%, which is a shocking number. Yet the shift in the underlying factors was much smaller. And as you’ll note from the math, the more effective the border patrol was initially, the more that half-percentage slip in their effectiveness affects the total result.

      As I stated, I have no idea what percent effective the border patrol is, but it’s clearly not 100% or we wouldn’t be having this discussion. But if the number of would-be entrants surges against a fixed capacity to stop them, then you’d expect a lot more to get through, right? And you could also then reasonably see that that could happen in the complete absence of any policy change.

      So if the US sees a surge in illegal immigration, how do you attribute it to a policy change? Especially when the administration has arguably been at least as tough on illegal immigration as the last one? It’s undeniable that more are getting through, but the causes are much less clear. But if you freeze a budget for a department that’s seeing surging “demand,” as it were, then you’d expect to see a surge in relative failure too.

      And how would you rightly and fairly assign blame?

      I’d love to know.




  5. In the late 1990s, unauthorized Salvadorans, Hondurans, and Nicaraguans became eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS)—provisional protection against deportation with work authorization—due to a series of natural disasters in those countries. TPS has been renewed for Honduras and Nicaragua until July 2016, and El Salvador until September 2016. In addition, many unauthorized Central Americans have legalized their status through a set of discretionary measures and legislation passed by the U.S. government, including the 1997 Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA). However, the number of unauthorized immigrants from Central America has continued to rise.

    Since 2011, a growing number of unaccompanied children, largely from the Northern Triangle, have arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border. From the start of fiscal year (FY) 2014 through July 31, 2015, 72,968, or 74 percent, of the unaccompanied minors apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the U.S.-Mexico border were from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

    The Central American diaspora population in the United States is comprised of approximately 5.3 million individuals who were either born in Central America or reported Central American ancestry, according to tabulations from the U.S. Census Bureau 2013 ACS.


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