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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Will Better Fences Make Better Neighbors?

President Obama has signed a bill authorizing an additional $600 million to be spent on border security. This will include hiring more Border Patrol agents and purchasing two more drone surveillance aircraft. Will this tamp down the emotions in Arizona, Utah, and other states that have been legislating against undocumented immigrants? Probably not, since the issues are deep and wide. People and drugs come north and guns go south across the border without documentation. Supply and demand.

Massey's "perverse laws of immigration" say that these mechanical kinds of solutions won't work as long as there are jobs in the US for workers from Mexico. Indeed, they aggravate the problem by making it harder for labor to be mobile--once in the US, migrants now choose to stay, rather than going back and forth. Drugs and guns follow the same principle. As long as there are users in the US demanding goods that are unregulated, there will be a supply and those supply chains will violently compete with one another because of the huge profits involved. Border enforcement is likely to be less effective than either reducing drug use in the US (but this not very likely) or legalizing and regulating its sale (and this is not very popular).

1 comment:

  1. It is also very unfortunate that it gets paid for by drastically increasing the fees companies pay for skilled immigrants through the H1B program, thus making legal immigration more difficult.