For a party that claims to be so fiscally responsible, conservatives sure love spending money on useless shit. If we really want to be so financially sound, why don’t we actually look at the numbers? How much do we spend on walls and border patrol vs. how much do we gain and/or lose from doing so.
The Job Displacement Myth
First of all, there can still be a structured vetting process for citizenship even with open borders. The only change with open borders would be that noncitizens could freely enter the country for work. Now, you might be thinking here, “they’d be taking jobs away from citizens though!” But there’s little evidence for that claim, and besides, they would naturally also be creating jobs.
Economist Bryan Caplan made a great comparison to how when women entered the job market in the 60’s and onward, the result wasn’t mass unemployment for men. The same can be said when black workers entered the workforce after emancipation.
Not to mention that birth rates are often thought to have a directly proportional relationship to the economy. Lower birth rates cause us to be concerned about who will care for the elderly later on, how many people will become available to the workforce, and how much tax revenue can be levied as the youngest generations enter adulthood.
If we follow this logic, it would seem that the more people in the workforce, the bigger the economy. After all, when women entered the workforce, they also had more money with which to buy shit. And buying shit does what? – it creates jobs.
The same happens when immigrants (documented or otherwise) come here for work. They’re buying gas to get to and from work. They’re paying rent somewhere. Presumably they’re eating food, meaning that they’re purchasing groceries and/or dining out, thus increasing demand for those items, which increases the need for production of those products. It’s a cycle.
Arguably, undocumented immigrants are even more beneficial to the economy than documented workers, because while they’re still paying taxes in most cases (at the very least sales tax, but oftentimes their employers still pay a payroll tax, and even if they’re paying under the table in cash, the employer is still gaining revenue off of the added production caused by the additional labor, thus creating taxable business income), they’re not getting the direct benefits of those taxes.
A study by the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy revealed that undocumented immigrants pay around $11.74 billion in taxes per year. And yet they are unable to benefit from medicaid, food stamps, social security, etc., despite paying into those systems the same as the rest of us.
Controlling Borders is Expensive
First of all, walls don’t actually do much to prevent undocumented immigration since almost half of undocumented immigrants come here by plane and simply overstay their visas.
As for migrants who do cross the border, walls appear to do very little to stop them. People have climbed over them, dug tunnels under them, sawed through them, and even used portable ramps to drive over them. Not to mention that natural forces like rain and erosion can breach walls. In August 2021, monsoons in Arizona tore down several panels of border wall. Bottom line? No wall is impenetrable, and anyone who says they’re going to build an impenetrable wall is full of shit.
Furthermore, while increased border protections may discourage people from coming in, it also discourages migrants from leaving. In fact, since 2009, more undocumented Mexican immigrants have left the US each year than have entered.
To make matters worse, since 2017 we’ve spent over $4 billion per year on border patrol. And while they are succeeding in apprehending border crossers, it then costs money to detain them, put them through immigration court, and deport them.
It’s Not a Difficult Answer
So if we want to talk numbers here, we’re spending billions of dollars each year to keep people out, when their presence here as workers and consumers is actually a net benefit to our economy. This really seems like a no brainer here. If you wanna be the party of fiscal responsibility then quit blowing money trying to keep consumers out.