A founding member of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is calling for the construction of a wall along the Mexican border, even if it’s so contentious that Democrats would rather shut down the government than allow funding for it.
Lou Di Leonardo noted in a FoxNews.com column that a compromise on the spending bill in Congress “looks increasingly unlikely.”
One of the flashpoints is a proposal by President Trump to include $1.6 billion in spending to start construction on a barrier.
Both House and Senate Republicans, Di Leonardo said, have allocated that money.
However, Democrats vow to shut down the government rather than fund the wall.
So be it, he said.
“Leaving our border unsecured any longer is not an option,” wrote Di Leonardo, because the nation cannot afford it.
“The influx of illegal laborers increases the supply of workers. There are currently at least 8 million illegal laborers in the United States. Over half crossed the border illegally and the rest overstayed their temporary visas. The illegal workers compete against less-educated Americans for the same manual labor and service-sector jobs, especially in industries like construction and landscaping,” he said.
Because of the supply of “cheap illegal labor,” companies simply don’t raise wages to attract American workers.
“U.S.-born workers lose up to $118 billion a year due to illegal immigration, according to George Borjas of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government,” he said.
He pointed out that one in six American high-school dropouts are unemployed or have fallen out of the labor market entirely.
Those workers, overall, lose $800 a year in wages because of the porous borders.
Strengthening border security – not only with a wall but with other methods – “would put the interests of working Americans ahead of illegal immigrants and employers who flagrantly disregard labor laws,” he wrote.
The holes in the border also allow Mexican drug cartels to operate at will, taking some $64 billion annually from drug trafficking, and resulting in a spillover of the tens of thousands of murders documented in Mexican border cities in recent years.
“A border wall would improve safety in these regions. Just look at the evidence from Arizona’s Yuma Border Patrol Sector, once the most violent area along America’s southwest border. In 2006, an initiative known as Operation Jump Start dramatically increased security personnel and built new fencing along parts of the U.S.-Mexico border, including in Yuma. Within a year, the number of violent attacks in the Yuma Border Patrol Sector went from around 200 to zero,” he wrote.
“Instances of so-called ‘drive-throughs’ in which smugglers drive contraband and illegal immigrants over the border in vehicles fell from more than 2,700 to six. Two years after the fence went up, arrests for drug trafficking and border-crossing had fallen from 138,000 to 8,363.”
He said the bottom line is that “competition from illegal border-crossers costs American workers tens of billions in lost wages every year and drugs flowing across the border claim tens of thousands of American lives.’
“A border wall would help bring this ‘carnage,’ as President Trump called it in his inaugural address, to an end.”