There was likely never going to be "comprehensive immigration reform" or any deal amnestying the DACA recipients in exchange for building the wall.
Yet 12 years ago,
In those days there were not, as now, nearly 50 million foreign-born immigrants living in
Sheer numbers have radically changed electoral politics. Take
The solidly blue states of the American Southwest, including
Once upon a time,
In those days, progressives saw illegal immigration as illiberal -- or at least not as a winning proposition among union households and the working poor.
Democratic constituencies opposed importing inexpensive foreign labor for corporate bosses. Welfare rights groups believed that massive illegal immigration would swamp social services and curtail government help to American poor of the barrios and the inner city.
So, what happened? Again, numbers.
Hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants have flocked into
Salad-bowl multiculturalism, growing tribalism and large numbers of unassimilated immigrants added up to politically advantageous demography for
In contrast, a wall would likely reduce illegal immigration dramatically and with it future Democratic constituents. Legal, meritocratic, measured and diverse immigration in its place would likely end up being politically neutral. And without fresh waves of undocumented immigrants from south of the border, identity politics would wane.
A wall also would radically change the optics of illegal immigration. Currently, in unsecured border areas, armed border patrol guards sometimes stand behind barbed wire. Without a wall, they are forced to rely on dogs and tear gas when rushed by would-be border crossers. They are easy targets for stone-throwers on the Mexican side of the border.
A high wall would end that. Border guards would be mostly invisible from the Mexican side of the wall. Barbed wire, dogs and tear gas astride the border -- the ingredients for media sensationalism -- would be unnecessary. Instead, footage of would-be border crossers trying to climb 30-foot walls would emphasize the degree to which some are callously breaking the law.
Such imagery would remind the world that undocumented immigrants are not always noble victims but often selfish young adult males who have little regard for the millions of aspiring immigrants who wait patiently in line and follow the rules to enter the United State lawfully.
More importantly, thousands of undocumented immigrants cross miles of dangerous, unguarded borderlands each year to walk for days in the desert. Often, they fall prey to dangers ranging from cartel gangs to dehydration.
The wall would make illegal crossings almost impossible, saving lives.
Latin American governments and Democratic operatives assume that lax border enforcement facilitates the outflow of billions of dollars in remittances sent south of the border and helps flip red states blue.
All prior efforts to ensure border security -- sanctions against employers, threats to cut off foreign aid to
Instead, amnesties, expanded entitlements and hundreds of sanctuary jurisdictions offer incentives for waves of undocumented immigrants.
The reason a secure borer wall has not been -- and may not be -- built is not apprehension that it would not work, but rather real fear that it would work only too well.