FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Trump’s Wall: Be Careful What You Wish For

Remember Donald Trump’s promise to not only build a US-Mexico border wall, but make Mexico pay for it? If that promise sounded sketchy, maybe even ridiculous when he made it, his campaign’s March 31 memo to the Washington Post makes it sound like an authoritarian, and likely disastrous, extortion scheme.

Trump’s proposal, in a nutshell, is to abuse provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act — allegedly intended to fight terrorism — to promulgate a proposed rule which would stop undocumented Mexican workers in the US from sending money home to their families.

Since such “remittances,” according to Trump, come to nearly $25 billion per year, the Mexican government would gladly fork over a one-time payment of several billion dollars for the wall rather than lose the ongoing economic boost they get from the remittances. They cough up, Trump withdraws the proposed rule.

Pretty much the typical mob-style muscle job: “Nice mutually beneficial trade and labor arrangement we got here. Be a shame if anything happened to it …”

One problem with the scheme is that the incentive for the Mexican government to agree seems to exist only in Trump’s imagination. If Mexico doesn’t pay for the wall, he cuts off remittances from undocumented immigrant workers. If Mexico DOES pay for the wall, and if it works as advertised, the number of undocumented immigrant workers getting through and sending remittances home plummets anyway. Why pay for the same results one would expect from not paying?

Fortunately it probably wouldn’t work. “Securing the border” is a dystopian fantasy for tyrants to indulge and for demagogues to sell to us panicky rubes, not something that can actually be done.

But suppose it COULD work? The big problem with the idea (above and beyond the sheer immorality of trying to bar peaceful human travel, that is) isn’t so much with how to finance it as how with badly it would damage the US economy if it was built and if it worked.

Yes, Americans like to bellyache about “them foreigners, taking our jobs.” But Americans also like to buy fruit, vegetables and poultry at reasonable prices. Cut out the undocumented immigrant work force and there’s a different kind of bellyache to worry about: The bellyache of hunger. To the extent that those things remain available at all with a million workers missing from the fields, they’re going to get real expensive, real fast.

Ditto roofing, landscaping and a bunch of other jobs Americans want done but don’t particularly want to do themselves and certainly won’t do for others for the pay an undocumented immigrant will accept.

Mexico might pay for the wall, but not nearly as much as you would pay for it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

More articles by:

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

January 15, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
Refugees Are in the English Channel Because of Western Interventions in the Middle East
Howard Lisnoff
The Faux Political System by the Numbers
Lawrence Davidson
Amos Oz and the Real Israel
John W. Whitehead
Beware the Emergency State
John Laforge
Loudmouths against Nuclear Lawlessness
Myles Hoenig
Labor in the Age of Trump
Jeff Cohen
Mainstream Media Bias on 2020 Democratic Race Already in High Gear
Dean Baker
Will Paying for Kidneys Reduce the Transplant Wait List?
George Ochenski
Trump’s Wall and the Montana Senate’s Theater of the Absurd
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: the Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Glenn Sacks
On the Picket Lines: Los Angeles Teachers Go On Strike for First Time in 30 Years
Jonah Raskin
Love in a Cold War Climate
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party
January 14, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Tears of Justin Trudeau
Julia Stein
California Needs a 10-Year Green New Deal
Dean Baker
Declining Birth Rates: Is the US in Danger of Running Out of People?
Robert Fisk
The US Media has Lost One of Its Sanest Voices on Military Matters
Vijay Prashad
5.5 Million Women Build Their Wall
Nicky Reid
Lessons From Rojava
Ted Rall
Here is the Progressive Agenda
Robert Koehler
A Green Future is One Without War
Gary Leupp
The Chickens Come Home to Roost….in Northern Syria
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: “The Country Is Watching”
Sam Gordon
Who Are Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists?
Weekend Edition
January 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Richard Moser
Neoliberalism: Free Market Fundamentalism or Corporate Power?
Paul Street
Bordering on Fascism: Scholars Reflect on Dangerous Times
Joseph Majerle III – Matthew Stevenson
Who or What Brought Down Dag Hammarskjöld?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
How Tre Arrow Became America’s Most Wanted Environmental “Terrorist”
Andrew Levine
Dealbreakers: The Democrats, Trump and His Wall
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Que Syria, Syria
Dave Lindorff
A Potentially Tectonic Event Shakes up the Mumia Abu-Jamal Case
Nick Pemberton
There Are More Important Things Than The Truth
Brian Cloughley
How Trump’s Insults and Lies are Harming America
David Rosen
Sexual Predators in the Era of Trump
Tamara Pearson
Everything the Western Mainstream Media Outlets Get Wrong When Covering Poor Countries
Richard E. Rubenstein
Trump vs. the Anti-Trumps: It’s the System That Needs Changing Not Just the Personnel
Christopher Ketcham
A Walk in the Woods, Away from the Screens
Basav Sen
Democrats Failed Their First Big Test on Climate
Lauren Smith
Nicaragua – The Irony of the NICA Act Being Signed into Law by Trump
Joseph Natoli
Will Trumpism Outlive Trump?
Olivia Alperstein
The EPA Rule Change That Could Kill Thousands
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
The New Congress Needs to Create a Green Planet at Peace
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
Cuba: Trump Turns the Vise
Ramzy Baroud
When Bolsonaro and Netanyahu Are ‘Brothers’: Why Brazil Should Shun the Israeli Model
Mitchell Zimmerman
Government by Extortion
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail