Border Wall May Worsen Undocumented Immigrant Problem Study Says
Friday, September 2, 2016
Posted by: Gregg Robertson
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Foundation for American Policy recently completed a study on the impact of building a wall along the U.S.- Mexico border. The study concluded that it would be ineffective and counterproductive, encouraging more unauthorized immigrants to stay long-term rather than working briefly in the United States and returning home.
Contrary to the impression left by campaign rhetoric, illegal entry by Mexicans, as measured by apprehensions at the border, declined by 82 percent between 2005 and 2015. Well-designed temporary work visas could further reduce illegal entry and illegal migration and free up law enforcement resources to confront more serious security threats to the nation.
The lack of legal work visas in the United States has exacerbated the problems that have propelled people to flee violence in Central America. The violence, it should be noted, is not generalized, but according to individuals interviewed by attorneys and human rights groups it is focused against those who do not comply with the wishes of gang members. Teenage girls are threatened if they do not submit to the overtures of gang members, boys are assaulted or killed if they do not join a gang, and small business owners are told to pay extortion or risk the lives of their families.
Among the report’s recommendations:
- Administrative reforms should be considered to help the H-2A and H-2B visa categories work better to increase their use, since they represent legal, temporary visa alternatives to illegal entry.
- America still does not possess a means for individuals to fill lower-skilled jobs with legal visas in year-round industries like construction, hotels and restaurants, as well as landscaping in places with mild climates. The influx of children and other migrants from Central America is one manifestation of the lack of economic based visas. Parents who first came to the country to work have found that increased enforcement means it is not advisable to travel back and forth, as people did many years ago.
- On the legislative front, Congress should look towards a system where individuals, possibly via bilateral treaties, are awarded agricultural “work permits” and can go work for any employer in agriculture. Something similar could be used for other sectors of the economy.
Building a wall and trying to “make Mexico pay for it” is likely to complicate international relations, threaten current cooperation with Mexico on immigration enforcement and help human smuggling cartels profit from the continued lack of legal ways to work in America at lower-skilled jobs. Increased avenues to enter the United States to work legally at lower-skilled jobs is the most effective way to reduce illegal entry.
The full report can be downloaded by clicking here.