Fortifying the Border

So we're going to build a wall and send an army to the border.

Maintaining a military to defend a group of people against outsiders who wish to use force against them is one of the core functions of government.  Even crazed libertarian anarcho-capitalists like myself concede it as a function of government.  If libertarians were to have their version of the ten commandments, the only phrase that would have to be on the stone is "Thou shalt not deal with thy neighbor through force or fraud."  The government maintains police and a military to handle the people who wish to violate this one commandment.

Throughout the years, countries have built armies and fortifications to defend against invaders who wanted to loot their lands, or steal their property, or impose their own version of racial or religious uniformity.  The US Army itself has fought for freedom, it has fought to restore democracy and individual rights, it has fought to stop genocides. 

Today, the US Army sallies forth again, to fight for and defend .... what? 

It fights to stop waves of Mexican immigrants that are dangerous because they ... want to freely exchange their labor with US Citizens?

It fights to protect Americans from ... competition for unskilled labor jobs?

It valiantly rides forth to make sure Americans never face the horror of ... interacting with someone with only broken English?

The soldiers racing to the borders are not fighting for me, because I am not in danger.  And neither is anyone around me here in Arizona -- no one from outside the border is threatening me with force or fraud (surprisingly frequent emailers sending me messages about Mexicans all being diseased criminals notwithstanding).  Its not like I live blithely ignorant of the border area in Kansas.  I life in Phoenix, and run businesses  right down on the border.  I don't feel a threat or danger.  In fact, the only danger I see is that the army may come down and drag families who are my friends out of their homes and out of the country (or into concentration camps, as one conservative writer longed for).

Immigration opponents are sometimes a little hazy about what danger they are trying to fix.  I agree there is a problem with the welfare state when it meets immigration, which I discussed here and proposed a solution for it here.  Democratic politicians still are confused on this particular problem, wanting some immigration solution but refusing to consider limiting access to the welfare state.   If the problem is infrastructure (police, prisons, schools, etc.) then it could be possible to provide national funds to border regions for this purpose, rather than for armies and walls (the Feds, after all, are handing out hundreds of billions to New Orleans).  And if the problem is too many people who don't look like us Anglo-Saxons, well, sorry  (If you don't think that this is the real issue for many anti-immigration folks, think about the recent scare headlines that soon a majority in the US may be Hispanic.  Can you imagine similar anxiety over the headline "majority of US may soon be of Canadian descent"?)

Update:  Nick Gillespie comments on the fact that Congress has given its official sanction to my speaking English.

Thank you, Middle Eastern 9/11 hijackers, for finally getting the point
through our thick skulls (forgive our slowness, but all too many of us are
descended from immigrants) that the greatest security threat to the United
States is the influx of Spanish speakers from across the border with Mexico.

Christ, it's bad enough that we have to eat foreign food, live in states
with Spanish-derived names, and answer that extra question about which
language to use at the ATM. (Thought experiment: How much is that extra
second or two of time slowing down the U.S. economy and driving down our
productivity, precisely at the moment when the Chinese are breathing down
necks like a bunch of post-industrial railroad coolies? You can be damn sure
that the Chinese government doesn't allow ATM users to pick their own

As I have written before, I have gotten more bizzaro emails on my pro-immigration stand than anything else I have written about.  Gillespie apparently has had the same experience.


  1. JohnDewey:

    "the only danger I see is that the army may come down and drag families who are my friends out of their homes and out of the country"

    This is also my fear.

    Thanks for an excellent post.

  2. DJB:

    Yes, exactly, if the United States wants to stop poorly educated people who don’t speak English from stealing low wage jobs from other Americans, they should start by building a fence around Louisiana!

  3. Casey:

    Ha, I support the fense around Louisiana! I live in phoenix and think this is now a political matter and no matter of rationalisation will exist.

  4. Rob:

    I'm a firm believer that free markets will balance or work themselves out.
    The fact that X million Mexicans came to the USA to work is a testimant
    to the idea that free markets maintain balance. People in Mexico want to
    work so they can have a better life. They go where there is work.
    Fortunately for Mexicans, their neighbor to the north is the richest country in the world.
    So, I really have no problem with them working, in fact, I believe that
    with an unemployment at 5% and USA population at 250 million, that you have about
    12-13 million unemployed. I guess most people think if the 12-13 million illegals
    were deported that we would go to 0% unemployment? Obviously it wouldn't, so
    I'm not really concerned with the impact on our fundamental economic system.

    The reason I support the fence is because the Mexicans do "fraud" us. They come
    here and disrespect our rules, which there existence in the USA is in an of itself a lie.
    But while they are here, they use are privaleged to public funds and welfare (in many cases).
    Although, the economy seems to be balancing OK, on that point, so I consider it a lesser point.

    My main reason for supporting the fence is that it's a security risk to have people running
    around within the USA, who we don't know exist. Should we have ID trackers on every single person within the country? No way... but that doesn't mean we can't control foreigners coming and going. Naturally, one would expect that Americans would be less likely to set off a nuke within the USA, and furthermore, Americans would have almost no chance of obtaining any weapons of that capability from within the USA. The biggest security threat to our own land is to have people with bad intentions coming into the USA (unfiltered, unchecked). It just so happens that our friendly neighbor to the south (Mexico) has a very corrupt system which could easily foster entrance from other nations.

    I just see the fence as a good way to reduce a threat.
    We all know that 11 million-ish illegals have come across in 18 yrs, obviously
    they are not all bad, but if 11 million could do it, then 1 could do it.
    I just rather be proactive in preventing that 1 person, than not.

    In data analytics, one saying is "to make the unknowable the unknown and
    the unknown the known", by putting up a fence, we help know the unknown
    and make it a lot easier to find the unknowns which we haven't though of yet.
    A wall won't catch everything, but it only needs to work once for it to pay off.

    I think if we put a fence up to block illegals, we also need to consider how
    to let those illegals come here legally and work. There are many jobs for them
    to fill and I have no problem with blocking them on the border. Hell, let's put
    ticket dispensors (like they have at your local deli) on this new wall.
    This way, when they get to it, they can get a ticket which will put them in line
    for entrance to come work.

  5. Fazookus:

    The immigration 'issue' will disappear after the election... I'm more worried about what else the far right propaganda machine will come up with to polarize the country and rally the insufficiently skeptical.

    Probably the Mexican homosexual peril.