Fred LaSor: A wall is moral, cost-effective
February 8, 2019
The Appeal's senior political columnist — Guy Farmer — wrote recently about illegal immigration across our southern border and the need to do something about it. His conclusion is so self-evident one has to wonder why it's even being debated.
But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has informed us a wall between the USA and Mexico is immoral and not cost-effective. Which makes one wonder, if it were moral would she fund it? Or if it were cost-effective? I happen to believe it's both moral and cost-effective, and I believe Pelosi opposes the wall because she wants President Trump to be denied a campaign promise. Which of course leads to the possibility
Trump will campaign on the continuing need for a border wall, and the people who voted for him last time will support him again because of the wall.
Looking at the question of cost-effectiveness, one can decide by comparing what costs illegal immigration imposes on the U.S. relative to the price of the wall. We know increased immigration results in increased social services, special education, and other services. And we know a porous border allows in drug traffickers, gang members, and people who don't respect our laws, because our law enforcement personnel continue to detain people who fall into those categories. Would a border wall stop all those costs? Probably not completely, but to be cost effective it only needs to save enough to offset the cost of the wall.
And then there are the deaths caused by illegal immigrants. We can't put a price on a human life, but certainly to the families who have lost loved ones, like the wife and son of the California sheriff's deputy who was killed last month, the cost of the wall would be money well spent.
As to the morality, the highest obligation of any government is the protection of its citizens. That has been so for as long as the idea of government has existed, and for that reason we have a military, police forces, and even consular officers in distant lands to provide assistance to American citizens who need help. I saw that many times when I worked in the Foreign Service. To question the morality of protecting one's citizens is nothing more than an effort to shame people into accepting your viewpoint. I don't accept it.
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There was a timely and interesting article in an Australian online journal of intellectual discussion called Quillette. The article was written by a Nigerian Ph.D. candidate of group identity at Sheffield University in England, who wondered "What do Nigerians, Indians, Turks and Mexicans think about migrants coming to their countries?" Here are his findings as revealed by comparing Pew Research opinion surveys from 27 countries.
"In European nations like Greece and Italy that have had huge influxes of migrants in recent years, the numbers wanting fewer or no more immigrants were high — 82 and 71 percent respectively. But in several other Western countries, including some perceived as being hostile to immigration, people are more sympathetic to immigration than in other parts of the world."
"The percentage of people wanting fewer or no more immigrants coming to their country was higher in South Africa, Argentina, Kenya, Nigeria, India, and Mexico than it was in Australia, the U.K. or the U.S." The range was from 65 percent in South Africa to 44 percent in Mexico, while in western countries the range was from 38 percent in Australia to 29 percent in the U.S. "In all 27 countries surveyed, less than a third of respondents said their country should let in more immigrants." Americans have no cause for shame.
Fred LaSor retired from U.S. government service 30 years ago and lives in the Carson Valley.