Study: 2006 Border Wall Shrank Migration by One-Third

SAN YSIDRO, CA - OCTOBER 26: A Customs and Border Protection vehicle drives along the along the border wall October 26, 2006 in San Ysidro, California. U.S. President Bush signed a bill that will add 700 miles of new fencing along the U.S.-Mexico Border. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)
Sandy Huffaker/Getty

The ramshackle 2006 border wall reduced northward migration by roughly one third, according to a detailed study conducted by a peer-reviewed journal.

“Construction in a municipality reduces migration by 27 percent for municipality residents and 15 percent for residents of adjacent municipalities,” said the article in the July 20 edition of the American Economic Journal.

“In addition, construction reduces migration by up to 35 percent from non-border municipalities,” says the author, Benjamin Feigenberg, at the University of Chicago.

He added:

Given working-aged populations of 5.0 million in Mexican border regions and 59.8 million in non-border regions, baseline migration rates of 0.42 percent and 0.41 percent per quarter, and estimated migration declines of 27 percent and 35 percent, roughly 5,670 border municipality migrants and 85,810 non-border migrants would be deterred each quarter if the entire border was fenced.


This cost estimate in turn implies a total cost of approximately $1,870 per deterred migrant.

However, the author saves himself from possible retaliation at work by minimizing the costs of each illegal migrant.

He minimized the cost of each illegal migrant by adding the benefit of cheaper labor for employers and of greater consumption for retailers and renters. He also used a separate study that said Americans blue-collar workers gained just 28 cents per year from increased wages as the 2006 wall slightly reduced migration.

However, Trump’s slatted steel wall is more effective — although more expensive — than the wall built after the 2006 bill.

Trump’s wall is also backed up by a wide series of diplomatic deals and regulatory reforms that have slashed open migration.
In 2019, roughly 630,000 women and children crossed through the border via the legal loopholes created by President Barack Obama and his allied judges and agency officials. In the first seven months of 2020, the flow plunged to 22,000, most of whom are quickly sent home via Trump’s diplomatic deals with Mexico and Central American countries.

These critical legal fights include losses and gains.

For example, on June 18, the Supreme Court directed Trump’s deputies to restart their effort to withdraw work permits given to roughly 700,000 illegal DACA young migrants. But on June 23, Trump won a legal victory in a D.C. courtroom allowing his agency officials to begin the fast-track “expedited removal” process to deport illegal migrants caught inside the United States. Politico reported June 23:

The plan the appeals court greenlighted Monday would allow authorities to use the sped-up process with alleged illegal immigrants picked up anywhere in the country who appear to have been in the U.S. for less than two years. The process typically bypasses immigration judges and provides for no review of their decisions in the cases where they are brought in.

On June 25, Trump scored big at the Supreme Court when it declared that Congress has the right to exclude immigration lawyers from most deportation cases. “An alien … has only those rights regarding admission that Congress has provided by statute,” said the 7-2 decision by Justice Samuel Alito. “An alien who tries to enter the country illegally is treated an an ‘applicant for admission,’ an alien who is detained shortly after unlawful entry cannot be said to have ‘effected an [legal] entry.”

But the illegal migrants are tough and determined to get jobs in the United States. That means more young men and women are trying to sneak illegally through the border — which means they have to get around or through Trump’s expanding border wall.

Roughly 275,000 single adults were caught at the border in 2019 — and roughly 150,000 have been caught in the first nine months of 2020.

The exclusion of migrants is great for blue collar Americans because it allows them to earn higher wages, pay lower rents, and send their kids to less-crowded schools.

Those gains are losses for white collar corporate executives, university academics, wealthy professionals, and shareholders, who have to pay higher wages to service workers must also receive lower stock-market gains.







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