Ten years ago, President George Bush signed the Secure Fence Act. Requiring 700 miles of double-layer fencing on America’s southern border, the law was modified in 2007 to be almost useless, thanks to then-Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and the new Democratic Congress.
Since then, the fence has languished. And despite promising voters that he would build a substantial wall to stop immigrants from illegally entering the nation, President-elect Donald Trump appears to be backtracking on the vow.
Mr. Trump ought to backtrack further – a wall is both a waste of money and a distraction from the real culprit for most illegal immigration: economics.
According to new research from Pew Research, there are eight million illegal immigrants working or looking for work in the U.S., totaling five percent of the U.S. work force and the vast majority of the over 11 million illegal immigrants commonly estimated to be in the nation. While many of those immigrants pay taxes, there is a net cost to taxpayers of tens of billions of dollars per year, according to fluctuating estimates. Many of these costs are borne by state and local governments.
Building an expensive wall won’t force any illegal immigrants, about 40 percent of whom have overstayed their visas after legally crossing our borders, to leave the country. Enacting an effective E-Verify program enforced by fining businesses who hire illegal immigrants would, by removing the financial incentive of…