Robert Reich is wrong about Trump Wall

Former Bill Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich - now a University of California at Berkeley professor - is wrong about lots of things, and the latest thing he's wrong about is Donald Trump's wall on the Mexican border.

This site doesn't support Trump Wall: it's a lunkhead plan that will never happen. It leads people on and - since it will never happen - it won't reduce illegal immigration. The obsession many Trump supporters have with Trump Wall keeps them from helping with the thing that would actually solve the problem: making illegal immigration politically toxic. The last thing those who support or enable illegal immigration want is for people to wake up and discredit them. In other words, Trump supporters are playing right into the hands of illegal immigration supporters (it won't be the first or last time).

Robert Reich opposes Trump Wall from the opposite POV: he's one of those illegal immigration supporters. He opposes Trump Wall for invalid reasons that won't reduce support for the plan. Thus, he's unwittingly serving his own interests.

At Huffington Post, Reich offers "6 Reasons Why Trump's Wall Is Even Dumber Than Most Of Trump's Other Ideas" [1]. Let's take them each in turn:

1. The U.S.-Mexican border is already well defended, and a wall won’t improve the defenses. The United States now spends $3.7 billion per year to keep some 21,000 Border Patrol agents on guard and another $3.2 billion on 23,000 inspectors at ports of entry along the border, a third of which is already walled or fenced off.

Obviously, the border isn't "well defended" since huge amounts of drugs are still coming over the border, as well as large numbers of illegal aliens. For instance [2].

2. The cost of Trump’s fence would be a whopping $25 billion on top of this. That’s the best estimate I’ve seen by a Washington Post fact checker. (When Trump discussed the cost last February he put it at $8 billion, then a few weeks later upped the cost to $10 to 12 billion. )

Trump supporters don't care. They'll say that's a small amount compared to the costs of illegal immigration. There are dueling studies over those costs, but very few Trump supporters are going to believe the studies that show low costs for illegal aliens and then change their minds. Fiscal cons do care about such amounts, but most of them support mass/illegal immigration already. The audience for such an argument is already on the other side.

3. There’s no way Mexico will pay for it. On January 11, Mexican President Enrique Peña assured Mexicans they would not be footing the bill. “It is evident that we have some differences with the new government of the United States,” he said, “like the topic of the wall, that Mexico of course will not pay.”

Reich might be right about this point, but that's still an open question. We've already detailed how Trump's plan to pay for the Wall with remittances will fail. However, there's an outside chance that he could extract some amount from the Mexican government in exchange for some form of guest workers program. Pointing out to Trump supporters how weak Trump is on immigration and that everything about him is negotiable would help Reich undercut Trump to Trump's base, but Reich - of course - can't conceive of doing that.

4. There’s no reason for the wall anyway because undocumented migration from Mexico has sharply declined. The Department of Homeland Security’s estimatesthat the total undocumented population peaked at 12 million in 2008, and has fallen since then. According to the Pew Research Center, the overall flow of Mexican immigrants between the two countries is at its smallest since the 1990s. The number of apprehensions at the border is at its lowest since 1973. AND 5. The decline isn’t because of rising border enforcement but because of Mexico is producing fewer young people and therefore less demographic pressure to migrate to the U.S. In 1965, Mexico’s fertility rate was 7.2 children per woman; by 2000 it had fallen to 2.4; today, it’s at 2.3 children per woman, just above replacement level.

As pointed out here many times, there are over 500 million people in Latin America and many of them would like to come here. Even if demographic factors might slightly reduce the supply of Mexican illegal aliens, there are still plenty of other countries: El Salvador, Honduras, Brazil, and so on. There are also plenty of countries outside Latin America. There are billions of people who live in countries with a lower per capita GDP than Mexico, and many of them would love a chance to come to the U.S.A. by any means possible. If fewer Mexicans want to enter the U.S. illegally and there's still a demand, the Mexican government would be willing to help other countries' citizens fill that demand as long as it was profitable for them.

6. There’s little or no evidence undocumented immigrants take jobs away from native-born Americans, anyway. A new analysis of Census data finds that immigrants take very different jobs than Americans. In fact, the United States already allows a significant amount of legal immigration from Mexico under the “guest-worker” program –1.6 million entries by legal immigrants and 3.9 million by temporary workers from Mexico over the last 10 years – because farmers can’t find enough native-born Americans to pick crops.

There's "little or no evidence" aside from the millions of Americans who could be doing jobs illegal aliens do now. Supposed-liberal Reich wants a situation where foreign serf labor works for low wages under bad conditions [3]; this site wants a situation where currently unemployed Americans are working for a living wage under good conditions. Aside from being factually-incorrect and pro-serf labor, this Reich point - like the rest - won't undercut Trump to the people that count. If someone agrees with Reich, they're already on the other side. Many Trump supporters have seen firsthand the impact of the libertarian economics Reich supports and might be unemployed or struggling because of it. A cosseted Berkeley professor isn't going to convince them that what they see with their own eyes isn't happening. See Crops Rotting in the Fields and immigration economics for more.

Agree? Write @RBReich with your thoughts. Disagree? Write @24AheadDotCom_ and I'll go into even more detail.

[1] huffingtonpost . com/entry/6-reasons-trumps-wall_us_587b8dfee4b0e58057ff46e3

[2] freebeacon . com/national-security/illegal-immigrants-surge-southern-border-ahead-2016-election/

The Department of Homeland Security published new statistics on Monday that confirmed at least 408,870 illegal aliens were apprehended along the U.S. southern border in fiscal year 2016, a 23 percent surge from this time last year.

[3] See immigration wage floor for why a common answer to the counterclaim is wrong.