Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Trump, The Border Wall, Sanctuary Cities, Etc.

   I don't see how anyone can deny that illegal immigration is a problem. "Progressivism" (by which I mean: that part of the American left that has moved roughly left of liberalism, but may not quite have gone full-on PC) seems to reject that proposition. I've long maintained that progressives are largely committed to open borders. And also that open borders would be catastrophic. I tend to be in favor of significant foreign aid, and a fairly liberal orientation toward political asylum. But open borders means the end of the U.S. Perhaps we should allow more legal immigration--I'm not immovably against that, though I do think we have a population problem. That's a controversial point, but I've long been sympathetic to more risk-averse views about population and the environment, and favor working toward building down the population. So that's a factor. (I'd rather get our own birth rate down some...) Nevertheless, those are more controversial positions, and I'm not certain enough about them to oppose increased legal immigration on the basis of them. But mass illegal immigration is right out.
   Of course Obama was already taking what seemed to me to be basically the right steps--though I have some inclination to favor more economic aid and more border-patrol agents.
   So what about the Trump plan (if it's a plan)? My inclination is to think:
1. Walls/fences
Whether or not we should build a fence is largely a question of cost-effectiveness. Both Trump and the Dems have turned this into a symbolic issue. As is so often the case, the left is nuttier about this than the right. The right is right: illegal immigration is more of a problem than the left thinks, and there's nothing wrong with border walls/fences if they are cost-effective. The left is nuts when it tries to analogize these to the Berlin Wall, and to suggest that walls per se are evil...or whatever the hell it is that they are trying to suggest. Though the right is also nuts about this: "the wall" has become symbolic for them as well; effectiveness rarely gets discussed over there.
I have to admit, it's just really hard for me to see how you can oppose DACA. The children are blameless. I really just can't see the other side on this one.
3. Sanctuary Cities
Local control has advantages, but I think you have to draw the line at immigration policy. I'm inclined to think that withholding federal aid from "sanctuary cities" is a good idea. The left's advocacy for things like sanctuary cities is one of the things that I think most clearly indicates their (somewhat covert) open-borders-...uh...ism? The idea seems to be: where we have control, we refuse to enforce immigration laws. There's little if any difference between we should not enforce immigration laws and we should have open borders.
4. Mass deportations
Not even worth talking about. Stick with Obama's policies in this respect. (And no, I absolutely don't count that as mass deportation.)
   In general I'm inclined to think: focus on the future. Eleven million illegals is bad, but probably not terrible. Many have been here a long time and are de facto Americans. Put our efforts into mitigating the problem in the future rather than trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube.
   My $0.02. Just thinking out loud, as usual.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

On 1, what considerations should be taken into the cost-effective analysis? And on which ones should the most emphasis be placed?

I'm thinking that rate of crime committed by illegal immigrants, tax payer burden, and the general definition of borders should all be considered. However, I'm not sure how one would go about placing a monetary/financial value on the latter of the three. The first two seem easier to gauge in that we can simply look at crime statistics and tax distribution/spending with respect to illegal immigration.

Trump's wall is estimated to be in the price range of $15-25 billion, and I've seen it reported by the FBI that crime committed by illegal immigrants is down, so it seems like he'd need to find a way to justify it on tax burden and border definition. Not sure how much a fence would cost, but I'd wager that this is the better option.

I'm not against the wall in principle, but it just seems to me that it is excessive and an obvious case of d***-measuring.

3:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and I suppose I forgot to mention the general rate of influx of illegal immigrants as a consideration.

3:55 PM  
Anonymous Old Gringo said...

I think all of your points are reasonable. I honestly don't know what the right approach is other than I think we all need to study history a bit more. Immigration has long been a flash point so it's hard for me to separate the legitimate points about *illegal* immigration from hysterical nativism which seems to recur. Your points about population are interesting but there is a concern about low birth rates in Western Europe and in America that might make more immigration vitalizing. In that light I'm not even sure that an open border policy would be all that bad.

6:37 PM  

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