Mr. President, Build That Wall!

Government refuses to do its job


A Pass Key Unlocks


© Steven J. Paske, 2010

What a difference a short twenty-one years can make. A wall that divided a country was torn down in Germany in 1989.  Now a wall needs to be built along our border with Mexico to restore the rule of law and to prevent further dividing our country.

I must have missed the federal government report that stated because so many illegal immigrants have made their way into this country through the porous border with Mexico that a precedent had been established that supersedes our country’s immigration laws and makes it permissible to enter this country illegally without fear of prosecution. For only if such a statement had been made is there any reason to believe for one second that what is happening along our border with Mexico is legal.

In a recent article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel by Teresa Wantanabe writing for the Los Angeles Times she quotes Rosalind Gold of the National Association of Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund as saying “To make the American dream of citizenship affordable to all, user fees (fees required to apply for legal immigration) should be lowered and Congress should give the immigration agency a steady stream of public funding to make up the lost revenue.” I have a suggestion for Mrs. Gold, how about the federal government enforce existing laws and use the lost revenue that would be recouped from legal immigration instead? The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (formerly Immigration and Naturalization Service) is projecting a $200 million dollar budget shortfall for their 2010-2011 budget. I don’t know about you, but to me that is a significant amount of money that it’s being suggested you and I, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer, cough up. Well my throat is sore from all this coughing and it’s time for some overdue medicine.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics the total state and federal prison inmate population in this country was 1.6 million people on December 31, 2008. Contrast that with the 22 million illegal immigrants in our country according to figures found on By definition then, we have more lawbreakers loose on the streets than we have locked behind bars. If those 22 million illegal immigrants paid the 675 dollars required, by law, to apply for legal citizenship, the total revenue collected would be 1.45 billion dollars. Feel free to check my math here but I think that would cover ICS’s budget shortfall and then some.

I understand our nation’s history as a melting pot, as a refuge for the world’s tired and the poor. I also believe that diversity is what gives our country its strength. But what I am not willing to do is endorse illegal acts in support of an otherwise laudable national value.

We have a budget deficit partially because of our federal government refuses to do its job of enforcing immigration laws. Couple lost revenue from legal immigration fees with the social costs that the illegal segment of our population places on this country and we are looking at the cost of non-enforcement being in the billions of dollars. The federal government locks up the likes of Bernie Madoff because he bilked his customers of millions of dollars. Why wouldn’t it pursue a class of people that are defrauding you and me, the owners of this country, out of more than a billion dollars in direct revenue and more than that in costs for education and other social services? Why do we continue to permit the federal government to shirk their constitutional duty to the states to keep our borders secure?

The primary issue isn’t money or a perceived social responsibility. The primary issue here is the rule of law. The United States is built on this principle and it is not one that allows our federal government to cherry-pick the laws it wants to enforce from the ones it doesn’t. We the people charge the federal government with protecting our borders and controlling immigration. If that government is unwilling or unable to carry this duty out it then, logically, falls to the states that are most impacted by illegal immigration to act, which is precisely and justifiably what the State of Arizona has done.

According to the Government Accounting Office (GAO) the cost of constructing the wall was averaging 2.8 million dollars per mile. With an almost 2000 mile border to secure this means the total cost to construct the wall to be around 6 billion dollars. With the revenue generated from the increase in legal immigration applications alone the wall would be paid for in five years. Admittedly this doesn’t take into account the number of people that won’t apply for citizenship but neither does it take into account the social costs to U.S. taxpayers for illegal residents. All things being equal, purely from a business perspective the payback time alone justifies the wall’s construction.

I will not deny that this is a difficult issue to contend with. But like controlling water out of a garden hose, which I find is easier to do the closer you get to where the water leaves the hose. With this issue, in this country, a country founded on the rule of law, the water leaves the hose at the border where it is against our laws to cross into this country illegally, period. Mr. President, build that wall!

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