- - Monday, January 9, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Donald Trump’s signature campaign promise was to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border to take control of immigration to America. The promise was appealing to most Americans, because every nation in the world has the right to control who gets in, and how.

This is the promise he must make good on, because if he doesn’t the voters and the states which elected him will rightly feel betrayed. The least persuasive reason for not building a border barrier, pushed hardest by those who benefit from uncontrolled illegal immigration, is what it will cost to build it.

Mr. Trump estimates that it will cost $8 billion. A bill put forward by Rep. Mike McCaul, Texas Republican and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, puts it at $10 billion. Some construction sources say it could cost double that. Whether $8 billion or $20 billion, it’s hardly a blip in a $4 trillion federal budget.

Suddenly cost-conscious Democrats who never raised so much as an eyebrow when President Obama raised the national debt by nearly $10 trillion faint at the prospect of what House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi calls a “heavy sell” on raising the money for the wall.

The Democrats’ newly discovered “budget hawk” impulse is not persuasive, coming from the party that a month into Mr. Obama’s presidency voted to flush $831 billion down a rat hole on an infrastructure “economic stimulus” bill. Democrats infatuated with infrastructure spending should be enthusiastic supporters of the ultimate infrastructure project, hundreds of miles of border walls and fencing.

The cost of a border wall is negligible compared to the savings made by keeping endless waves of illegal aliens at bay. The illegals here now cost American taxpayers tens of billions annually in local, state and federal money on education, health care, welfare, incarceration and other costs.

The nonpartisan Federation for American Immigration Reform estimated three years ago “the annual costs of illegal immigration at the federal, state and local level to be about $113 billion; nearly $29 billion at the federal level and $84 billion at the state and local level.”

President Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act in 1986 that made 3 million illegal immigrants legal in exchange for promises to end uncontrolled immigration once and for all. Congress has never made good on its part of the bargain. Worse, the amnesty reinforced the unintended message that if you get in, you can stay, spawning the tsunami of illegal immigrants that America grapples with to this day.

From 2003 through 2006, when the Republicans held both houses of Congress, they could have built the wall. Congress overwhelmingly passed authorizing legislation in the Secure Fence Act in 2006, but to no avail, due in part because the establishment wing of the GOP covets the endless supply of cheap and easily abused immigrant labor.

Whether Mexico can be compelled to pay for a wall, upfront or through reimbursement later, is irrelevant. It’s a matter of national security. A nation that can’t summon the will to control its borders will not survive. Whatever survival costs, it’s worth it.

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