Trump’s Border Wall

During the 2016 campaign, Trump said he’s going to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico and…

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After his election, he clarified:

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So, the U.S. will pay for the wall, and Mexico will pay us back later?  Yeah, good luck with that.  Trump supporters tell me that he has a plan for how Mexico will pay for the wall, and as of February 21, 2017, Trump’s plan is posted on his website.  In case it is not available on his website in the future, I’ve also saved a copy for you.  If you’d like to review his plan point by point, please read on.  If you’d rather me summarize my argument now, then here it is:

Instead of preventing illegal immigration, Trump’s border wall will reduce LEGAL immigration by non-whites.  Trump’s plan to have Mexico pay for the wall will not work.  His wall and his plan WILL hurt all U.S consumers as well as low-income citizens of Mexico.  It is one of several racist and classist plans Trump has for our country.


Below is my item-by-item analysis of Trump’s plan to have Mexico pay for the border wall.

Item One:

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This would mean illegal immigrants to the U.S. could not wire money to their families in Mexico. This action increases poverty among already poor Mexicans living in Mexico. It doesn’t affect the government or force them to pay for the wall.

Items Two & Three:

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Item Two is an assumption. There is no way to know if the government of Mexico would protest this action. Mexico has a welfare system, but no one knows if they would choose to increase services if its citizens couldn’t receive wire transfers from the U.S.  And, if Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, is as corrupt as some say, then it’s doubtful that he would care enough about his people to consider paying for Trump’s wall.

Item Four:

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…is also an assumption. Trade tariffs will increase the cost of goods to all U.S. consumers, and there is no way to know if these increased costs would be offset by increased income from increased production in the U.S. China may very well seize the opportunity to increase supply of their products to fill the gap.  Without competition from Mexico, China can increase the cost of the goods they sell in the U.S.

Item Five:

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The only result of Item Five would be to prevent LEGAL immigration from Mexico to the U.S., in line with the alt-right’s vision of a white ethno-state.  The assertion that immigrants take jobs from U.S. citizens is dubious at best.

Item Six:

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As of February 21, 2017, border crossing cards for those age 15 and over cost $160.00 USD. Let’s do the math: If we double the cost and use the increase to pay for the wall, then it would take just over 31 years to pay for the wall…

  • IF we didn’t charge interest on those payments,
  • and IF the total cost of the wall is no more than 5 billion USD.
  • and IF we continue to sell 1 million cards per year.  Doubling the cost of the border crossing cards will mean that some people who might have bought the cards at the lower price will simply not be able to afford the higher price.

Here again, the money would come from low-income citizens of Mexico, not the government.  Increasing visa fees reduces LEGAL immigration because some will not be able to afford the additional cost.

Conclusion:

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Wow, that’s an enormous amount of negative spin. This is Trump’s standard hateful rhetoric that he doesn’t bother to back up with any real data.  I would argue that, since Trump’s plan appears to affect only low-income Mexicans and U.S. consumers, it is not at all clear that we have the moral high ground.

When Trump is running for re-election in 2020, I’m sure he’ll have some explanation as to why the wall hasn’t been completed yet, and why Mexico hasn’t paid for it.  I’m documenting his plan and my reaction to it now, so that I can come back to it during the next election.

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