Securing borders is the prime task of a government to defend itself from intrusions and illegal crossings. Nations are divided by geographical mapping and it is up to the government to determine the level of control for the movement of goods and people. It is also the sovereign right of a nation to defend itself from the onslaught of unwanted flow of goods and people across the border. However, if bordering or the neighboring countries do well financially, politically and socially, then it is obvious that people from the nations that are not as well off, look forward to move in order to create a better life and future for themselves.
America borders two countries by land- Canada and Mexico. As far as Canada is concerned, it is one of the best managed and prosperous countries in the world. As per the Legatum Prosperity Index 2016, the following variables measure: success in industry, education, health, freedom, opportunity and social capital; Canada is the 5th most prosperous country in the world after New Zealand, Norway, Finland and Switzerland. USA is placed at the 17th position and Mexico is on the 65th position.
According to the Global Peace Index of 2016 which is based on three broad themes: the level of safety and security in society; the extent of domestic or international conflict; and the degree of militarization, Canada is placed on 8th position, after Iceland, Denmark, Austria, New Zealand, Portugal, Czech Republic and Switzerland. USA and Mexico have been placed at the 103rd and 140th positions respectively.
The GDP per capita income recorded in 2015 for USA was US$ 51,486; Canada–US$ 50,000.56 and Mexico-US$ 16,501.94. This shows a threefold difference in GDP per capita income between Canada and Mexico, whereas Canada is almost at par with USA.
Therefore, as far as Canadians are concerned they are very happy and well off in their own country and they will never like to move or migrate to USA unless there is a compulsion due to their job, business or family. Besides that, Canadian health care is well covered under the provincial health insurance plans which provide peace of mind and a worry free life as they age. Whereas it is the dream of Mexicans to immigrate and live in the USA and Canada, and as a result they try all means to make illegal border crossings, besides the menace of illegal drug trafficking running into billions of dollars.
When Hon. President-Elect Donald J. Trump called for building a wall on the US-Mexico border then a lot of hue and cry was made by the left wing media and the politicians. But his approach of building a wall to fix the porous border is more pragmatic and thoughtful. Everybody started talking about the cost of building a wall and its impact on the US economy. Therefore it is pertinent to look into the cost of building walls on the US Mexican border and how to make it cost free to the US Government.
Mr. President-Elect announced during his visit to Mexico that Mexico will pay for building the wall and if that happens, it may become a sore point between the two countries and the relationship will go from bad to worse. Before I suggest how USA can make the most expensive wall in the history of mankind without spending a single penny, we will have to look into the areas of the border which is porous and what would be the cost to fix it by building high rise walls.
US Mexico Border:
The total length of US-Mexico border is about 1,989 miles or 3,201 kilometers and out of that only 700 miles or 1,100 kms are under effective control due to the high security fencing made under the Secure Fencing Act of 2006.
A U.S. Border Patrol agent looks into Mexico from the U.S.-Mexico border near Sonoita, Arizona, on Feb. 26, 2013.Source: John Moore / Getty Images, file –NBC News.com
According to a report published by the Global Security.org; “DHS’s US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) contractor, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), had completed about 93 miles of primary SBI fencing costing approximately $198 million as of September 30, 2007, and about 215 miles of fencing costing about $265 million as of October 31,2008. Seventy-one of the miles completed as of September 30 2007, were pedestrian fencing completed at costs ranging from $400,000 to $4.8 million per mile and averaging $2.9 million per mile.”
Therefore, there have been constant efforts to fence the border to check illegal crossings of border but it is still insufficient and a lot of fencing is required to secure the US-Mexico Border.
COST OF BUILDING A WALL :
The cost of building a wall depends upon the topography of the land and from where it is passing through. As such, there have been different estimates for its cost of construction. As per the Global Security.org, “if a 2,000 mile state-of-the-art border fence is constructed then it may cost between four to eight billion dollars”. According to another report published in ibtimes.com by Cristina Silva, “the cost of building a wall could be as high as $16 million per mile, with a total price tag of $15 billion to $25 billion”.
COST OF IMMIGRATION:
Countries like Canada and Australia have open immigration policy and whosoever wants to come legally into these countries, first they have to qualify for the immigration and for that they have to pay application fee, landing fee, lawyers fee (if they hire a lawyer or a consultant) and then they have to bring subsistence money with them for their survival during the initial period of their settlement.
By law, Canada requires that anybody who is immigrating to Canada as a permanent resident have to bring or show proof of funds that they would be bringing to Canada. The amount varies for a single person from CA$12,164 to a family of four CA$22,603. Furthermore, they have to spend anywhere between CA$3,000 to CA$5,000 as application fee, landing fee, lawyers fee and citizenship fee. Therefore, it costs anywhere from CA$15,000 to CA$27,000 to immigrate to Canada.
The visa charges for immigrating to Australia varies anywhere between AU$7,000 to AU$12,000 for a family unit, and after adding the total budget for initial settlement it comes to AU$12,000 to AU$18,000 for a single migrant to AU$30,000 to AU$40,000 for a family of four.
Therefore, immigration is not free for living in a developed and civilized country. We all have paid a fair share of our contribution in migrating to Canada and Australia and anybody who wants to migrate to USA must pay the cost of immigration.
COST FREE BUILDING OF WALL FOR US$ 25 BILLION:
It is estimated that about 12 to 13 million Mexican people are living in USA illegally and out of them about a million have the criminal background. Therefore, the United States government can filter the criminal elements and deport them out of the USA, and charge a fee to legalize the law abiding Mexican people who are working hard to make their living and contributing to the US economy.
If the legalization fee for a single person would be US$ 20,000 and for a family may be US$30,000, then on an average the government of United States can easily raise the following money for building a secured fence throughout the Mexican border with additional surveillance by drone and satellites without putting a strain on the government exchequer:
US 25,000 per person as Legalization Fee X 12 million people = US$30 billion
I am sure every Mexican living in United States would be more than happy to pay the above amount in becoming a proud resident and citizen of the United States of America. I believe, every law abiding person living anywhere in the world, should be given a second chance and this step would certainly foster a sense of safety, security and universal brotherhood among the Mexicans living in the United States of America.
I hope, this article is going to provide an idea to the Trump government to legalize law abiding illegal immigrants living and working in America while raising funds from them and securing the southern border at their cost.
Suman Saran Sinha, Strategic Management Consultant, Canada.