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Trump & GOP Field Insist on Building Berlin-Style Wall Despite Net Zero Unauthorized Migration

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Eduardo Porter of the New York Times Explains Idiocy of This Approach

As Donald Trump continues to steal the immigration spotlight on the campaign trail, Eduardo Porter, Economic Scene reporter for the New York Times, marshals the real facts on immigration.  While Republicans insist on “border security first,” before any immigration reform plans can be enacted, they ignore the fact that the border is more secure than ever and net unauthorized migration from Mexico has fallen to zero.

The piece entitled, “Donald Trump’s Shaky Grasp on Immigration,” is available online here.  Key excerpts follow below:

“Perhaps the strangest thing about Mr. Trump’s appeal is that his main weapon — the border wall — is already well established. It has proved, at best, pretty much irrelevant. At worst, it backfired badly.

“Border Patrol personnel have doubled since 2004, to more than 21,000. More than 650 miles of fencing has been built, festooned with sensors and backed up by drones.

“These days, immigration enforcement takes up half the nation’s entire law enforcement budget. The border patrol’s budget alone has increased more than tenfold since 1970, to nearly $4 billion.

“Recent research by Professor Hanson, Scott Borger of the Department of Homeland Security and Bryan Roberts of Econometrica, based on data from the Department of Homeland Security, suggests that the most recent step-up of border enforcement may have had a bigger effect than previous efforts, accounting for one-third of the downturn in illegal immigration from 2003 to 2010.

. . . .

“Mr. Trump could blame the browning of America at least in part on the wall. In a cheeky bit of counterfactual analysis, the three researchers estimated that the tightening of border enforcement since 1986 actually added four million people to the population of immigrants living illegally in the United States in 2010.

“Nostalgia, of course, has no place for analysis. Analytical quibbles are unlikely to sway Mr. Trump or his followers.

“They might even take comfort from examples in history of nearly impregnable walls. East Germany managed to close itself off from the West from 1961 to 1989 with an effectiveness of 95 percent.

“It was expensive, though. It took nearly 30,000 guards to defend a boundary less than half the length of the Mexico-United States border. Border guards used land mines and shot to kill. They got help from the Stasi, monitoring every aspect of East Germans’ lives.

“This seems like a high price to pay to stop a trickle of illegal immigrants that is falling on its own to zero.”