Costing the Forcible Removal of Undocumented Immigrants and Barring Entrance of Muslim Individuals from the Homeland

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has made two specific proposals purportedly aimed at safeguarding the Homeland. Presumably, these will be incorporated into the Republican party platform. How would those proposals be implemented and how much would implementation cost?

Forcible Removal

In order to assess costs, it is necessary to first lay out how to operationalize the goal of complete removal of all undocumented immigrants. In order for the solution to be complete, documentation of all individuals in the US would be required. That in turn would necessitate development and maintenance of a permanent national database incorporating documentation of location of birth. This would not be sufficient to complete Trump’s objective, if in fact citizenship is not based on location of birth (i.e., ending birthright citizenship [0], aka Jus Soli).

Current estimates of the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States (based on the current definition of citizenship, Jus Solis) center around 11.5 million [1]. Mass removal of this number of individuals would likely require centers to at least temporarily detain, isolate and then process the deportees. This presumes that speedy expulsion of deportees can be effected. If not, then the detention centers might involve holding population over more extended periods.

The American Action Forum has estimated a 20 year fiscal cost for removal at between $400 to $600 billion. [2]. That figure does not include supply side reductions in potential output arising from a reduced labor force; nor does it include costs of modifying the US-Mexico and/or US-Canada border walls.

More discussion here.

Barring Muslim Entrants

Mr. Trump has proposed that no Muslims be allowed to enter the United States, for some period yet to be determined. Since there is no exception indicated for US citizens, proper implementation requires that the national authority develop a registry of religious affiliation. In order to prevent individuals from circumventing the rules by providing false information, some means of verifying religious affiliation would be necessary for all US residents. (This is necessary because in order to determine who can be allowed to return to the United States after traveling abroad, religious affiliation of all US residents must be determined ahead of time). I am not aware of specific measures that have been proposed. One plausible method would be intensive interrogation combined with polygraph. Subjecting all US residents to such a procedure would be costly, but seems the only feasible way in which to prevent any travel of any Muslim into the US.

A similar means of assessing the religious affiliation of all individuals wishing to transit the United States could also be implemented.

One cost saving measure could be achieved by combining the national database registry on citizenship with the database on religious affiliation.

No cost estimates have been developed, to my knowledge, of implementing all aspects of such a policy. Some estimates have been generated for the cost in terms of lost travel from Middle Eastern/North African countries; one estimate is at $18.4 billion per year [4]. That estimate does not include screening costs, etc. It is merely the estimated cost of diverted travel (which enters the NIPA as an export). Additional discussion here.

It is interesting to note that a de jure travel ban based on religious affiliation is unprecedented in US history (of course, religious-based discrimination has been implemented in other countries at other times). Immigration bans on geographic origin do have some precedent, including the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 [5], and the National Origins Act of 1924, which applied to individuals of Japanese ancestry. In the former instance, US citizens of Chinese descent who left the United States were then denied the right to return, so there is precedent. Subsequent legislation clarified the restriction to apply to all ethnic Chinese regardless of national origin.

Addendum, 5/30, 7PM Pacific: Anybody pondering Donald Trump’s dedication to implementing policies aimed at certain ethnic and religious minorities should pay heed to his recent condemnation of a Federal judge:

Trump himself said at a rally that U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel “happens to be, we believe, Mexican,”

Judge Curiel is a US citizen (for now — see Trump’s proposal to end birthright citizenship) as he was born in the United States. [6] By Mr. Trump’s ciriterion, I am Chinese.

39 thoughts on “Costing the Forcible Removal of Undocumented Immigrants and Barring Entrance of Muslim Individuals from the Homeland

  1. Paul Mathis

    Trump Will Not Do Any of the Things He Has Proposed

    He already said that barring Muslims was just a “suggestion.”

    And he would only build a wall if Mexico pays for it which obviously it won’t. So no wall.

    Rounding up and deporting illegals would be strongly opposed by businesses and farmers so that won’t be done either.

    Trump is just a con man who seldom keeps his promises. Just ask all the investors he screwed over.

  2. Trump/Sanders 2016

    “The American Action Forum has estimated a 20 year fiscal cost for removal at between $400 to $600 billion”

    HAHA! that is amusing!

  3. 2slugbaits

    Menzie has it backwards. Doesn’t he know? Illegal immigrants will self deport! If Trump ever does become POTUS, then I suspect the bigger problem will be folks who really are jus solis US citizens be trying to claim Canadian citizenship. I’m not too worried about people trying to enter the country illegally in a Trump world. The bigger concern would be a brain drain of all the smart folks exiting the country.

    So I’m wondering if Rick Stryker has found his way to supporting Donald Trump yet, the way that all of those other vociferous Trump opponents seem to have rationalized their way back into the lunatic fold.

    1. Rick Stryker


      I think there is a conservative case for supporting Donald Trump.

      I understand the reservations of the #neverTrump conservatives, having been one of them. On the face of it, it appears that the Republican party has been dealt a very poor hand. Its new standard bearer promises to promote right-wing populist policies such as we’ve seen from the National Front in France or from Norbert Hofer, who almost won in Austria with policies similar to Trump’s. I, like many conservatives, don’t support right-wing populism. Moreover, given Trump’s personal behavior and political inexperience, there is the worry that Hillary will defeat him in a landslide, perhaps taking the Senate too. Trump would, in this view, sully the Republican party and destroy it for at least the next 8 years.

      That’s the downside risk. If this downside were the only outcome, I’d agree that it’s better not to play the very bad hand we’ve been dealt. Just fold, as the #neverTrumpers want to do or run a third party candidate. But if Republicans just fold and don’t support Trump, they guarantee the downside outcome. Hillary will nominate a fifth left wing Justice, guaranteeing left wing policy-making from the bench for a generation. The four left wing Justices have already indicated that they are waiting for an opportunity to overturn the Heller decision. It will be overturned if Hillary is elected. Obamacare will never go away. Instead it will be expanded more. Essentially, Obama’s policies will be solidified and extended if Hlllary wins, which will be guaranteed if we don’t get behind Trump. For many conservatives, the chance of avoiding this outcome is reason enough to support Trump, even if they are not sure what his policies will be. But I think there is an upside for conservatives that the #neverTrumpers are not considering.

      Upon closer inspection, the hand Republicans have been dealt is not nearly as bad as it looks. Trump is not a typical candidate who plays by traditional rules. Trump uses the media to garner attention in a way that no one else has been able to do in the Republican party. One of his techniques is to make shocking pronouncements such as we’re going to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it or we’re going to ban all Muslims from entering the country. Of course, these policies are silly, offensive, and unworkable. But policies that are unworkable are not going to be implemented and Trump doesn’t really mean them anyway. Trump’s surrogate, Congressman Chris Collins, admitted as much to the Buffalo News, saying:

      “I have called it a virtual wall,” Rep. Chris Collins said in an interview with The Buffalo News.

      “Maybe we will be building a wall over some aspects of it; I don’t know,” the Clarence Republican said of Trump’s proposed barrier to keep illegal immigrants and drugs from crossing the southern border.

      And, on the deportation:

      “I call it a rhetorical deportation of 12 million people,” Collins said.

      He then gestured toward a door in his Capitol Hill office.

      “They go out that door, they go in that room, they get their work papers, Social Security number, then they come in that door, and they’ve got legal work status but are not citizens of the United States,” Collins said. “So there was a virtual deportation as they left that door for processing and came in this door.”

      Collins added: “We’re not going to put them on a bus, and we’re not going to drive them across the border.”

      Collins noted that Trump would probably disagree with his characterizations. But Trump was given a chance to disagree in an inteview with Brett Baier at Fox, but Trump did not disagree.

      Many conservatives have realized that Trump isn’t serious about his most outrageous policies, which eases their concerns. But what about Trump’s other drawbacks? One is that he can’t win against Hillary, particularly because of his weakness with Hispanic and women voters. But the polling evidence we’ve seen suggests that Hillary has even greater problems with men. Moreover, as I predicted in another comment, Trump is attacking Hillary from the right and left, explicitly going after Bernie’s voters. That strategy seems to be paying off as recent polls have him close to or even with Hillary, an outcome produced by a dramatic swing in the support of young voters to Trump, one of Bernie’s key constituencies. Conservatives are beginning to believe that Trump can win and that his unorthodox strategy of contesting states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania might work.

      Moreover, many conservatives have begun to appreciate Trump’s combative style, which is a very nice contrast to the behavior of most Republican politicians. Republican voters bristled when Candy Crowley intervened in a national debate to stop Romney’s Benghazi attack. Why did Romney allow her to get away with that, many conservatives wondered? Why did Romney allow himself to be defined as he was during the spring of 2012 without fighting back? Why didn’t Romney attack on Obamacare, a key political weakness for Democrats? How can the Clintons attack Republicans on women given their own behavior?

      Most Republicans have become fatalistic about all this. Yes, the press will always protect Democrats and there is nothing we can do about it. Nothing will come of the email scandal or the machinations of the Clinton foundation, Republicans fume to themselves privately. The press will not report on it and will actively work to cover it up. Republicans brace for the onslaught of the Democratic attack machine on the Republican candidate, whoever it will be, with all of its unfairness if not outright untruths. Better just stick to the facts like we always do and hope the slime thrown at us doesn’t stick too much, most of them think. And then lose.

      But Trump is different. Trump will never allow the Candy Crowley’s of the world to get away with this. Trump would not have stopped his attack during the debate but would have pressed harder. Trump will not allow the Democrats to make their attacks without real consequence. He will use their own tactics against them, but much more effectively. The Clintons and their surrogates as well as the Elizabeth Warrens and Debbie Wasserman-Shultz’s of the world think they can use their standard playbook with Trump. They are wrong. Trump will make them pay a significant price for once. Many conservatives relish the counterattack that’s coming from Trump and have already gotten the popcorn ready.

      Trump has also shown that he has a lot to offer conservatives. He gave excellent speeches both on Israel and to the NRA. He put out a superlative list of replacements for Scalia. He has invited Larry Kudlow and Steven Moore to work on his tax plan. It’s not really credible yet but it’s moving in the right direction. If some prominent Republican economists could overcome their trepidation and jump on the Trump train, I think we could have a good tax cut plan. I believe that has a very good chance of happening eventually.

      Most likely, the “wall” will be nothing more than a revival and continuation of the Secure Fence Act of 2006, a Bush Administration initiative that both Hillary and Obama voted for. The anti-terror immigration policy will be tougher visa requirements from people travelling from certain countries, not a religious litmus test. It will also probably be a combination of tougher controls on illegal immigration and a path to legality, not citizenship, for people who are already here.

      Many conservatives are now thinking that with a Republican congress led by Paul Ryan, representing movement conservatism, and Trump in the Whitehouse, much progress can be made on the domestic front. Obamacare will likely be history. Taxes will be cut. The Supreme Court will retain its conservative majority. Climate change alarmism will be no longer be supported. Trump is even promising a national right to carry license, which would be fabulous. Trump has said some disturbing things on foreign policy. However, most conservatives don’t actually expect him to disavow security pacts such as NATO. But if foreign policy were less bellicose, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Again, the way to make foreign policy under Trump serious is for Republican foreign policy specialists to overcome their aversion to Trump and jump on the Trump train, so that they can influence it.

      Of course, there is no denying there is significant downside risk with Trump. Hillary might beat him badly after all, bringing down the Republican party with him. But that will happen for sure if conservatives don’t support Trump. Given what we know, it seems to me the more realistic downside risk (from a conservative point of view) is that Trump will turn out to be a mixed bag, governing much more like a very liberal Republican. That might be OK though with a Republican congress led by Ryan. If Trump tries to make a deal with the Democrats for some kind of government health care program, for example, I think that will be stopped by the Republicans in Congress.

      In my view, Trump’s upsides are greater than his downsides, and so conservatives should support Trump.

      1. 2slugbaits

        Rick Stryker

        Thanks for the honest reply. As I expected, you have succeeded in rationalizing a vote for Trump despite earlier claims that Trump was unfit for office. I also agree with you that Trump probably doesn’t mean a tenth of the nonsense that he spouts, which should trouble you more than it seems to. No one actually knows what Trump believes…my guess is that he doesn’t have any beliefs whatsoever. It’s just an ego thing with Trump. He’ll say anything, do anything and double-cross anyone if it’s to his advantage. And conservatives should be worried about that. What happens if hard line conservatives get disappointed, yet again, with someone who doesn’t really share their core beliefs? My guess is that they will become even more demoralized and disillusioned. They will also become even more tempted by the man on the white horse.

        You seem to be counting on the likelihood that a President Trump wouldn’t really be as crazy as he sounds. But with a GOP Congress he would have license (and a perceived mandate) to be even nuttier. So if you vote for Trump, then you might want to hedge your bets by voting for a Democratic Congress in order to keep the nut job in check. Your support for him seems to hinge on a naïve belief that he truly means to follow through with all of the things you like and agree with, but he won’t follow through with the things that you don’t like. A slim reed.

        I know Bernie personally and like both him and his wife. They’ve been dinner guests and house guests. He has the integrity and personal commitment to a moral society that Trump could only sneer at. He is deeply committed to justice and equality in a way that Hillary Clinton will never know. That said, I’m not a Bernie supporter. He has the “vision thing” in spades, but he doesn’t have a mind for understanding economics. He’s also unwilling to get dirty while rolling around in the mud. And he hasn’t been able to get beyond the double-crossing and “dirty tricks” that the DNC (i.e., Wasserman-Schultz and her extended family members working for the DNC) pulled last year. A good President needs to learn how to get beyond past hurts.

        I’m not a big Hillary fan either. She knows issues inside out and upside down. No one should question her wonk factor. But she probably has the worst executive skills of any major politician. She mismanaged healthcare in the 90s. Her 2008 campaign was a poster child for management incompetence. And she really hasn’t done all that much better in 2016 given how little opposition she’s faced. Finally, senior State Dept people will tell you that she was very smart on the issues, but a very bad manager. It’s no wonder she looked so haggard after four years as Secy of State. She tried to micromanage every aspect of foreign policy. That’s Jimmy Carter Disease. And I don’t think her economic plan adds up anymore than the Trump or Sanders plans. Yes, the Tax Policy Center’s analysis of the Clinton plan adds up. But that analysis was based on a very narrow set of policy goals from last summer. Since then she has signed up for Bernie Lite….go see how her website has evolved. But she still hasn’t put out a plan that pays for the stuff she’s added since last summer.

        In the end I’m indifferent between Bernie or Hillary. Both will be one termers. Both will end up being caretaker Presidents given a GOP House. And I can live with that. In the end it just comes down to supporting the one that has the best chance of beating Trump and holding of Bonapartism for at least another four years.

        Too bad Obama can’t run for a third term. Too bad that Joe Biden decided running.

        1. Rick Stryker


          I have no illusions about Trump, which is why I talked about upsides and downsides. I just don’t think the true downside from Trump is as dire for conservatives as the #neverTrumpers think. And there is more upside than they think.

          I’ve never met Sanders but I’d agree that he seems decent and sincere. But at this point, he’s hurting the Democratic Party. I don’t buy the argument that the system is rigged on the Democratic side. Hilary has simply won the majority of the votes and has therefore gotten the majority of the delegates. Sanders seems to be contradicting himself when he says the superdelegates have rigged the contest and then pleads for the superdelegates to support him even though he has much lower vote totals. Sanders is essentially asking that the superdelegates ignore Hilary’s much higher vote share and support him instead. If that happened, though, the race would really be rigged.

          Sanders rests his argument on the polls that show him beating Trump. I very much doubt those polls are correctly predicting the true outcome. Hilary is the stronger candidate of the two in a general election. Once she gets the nomination clearly, most Sanders voters will get behind her and she’ll get a bounce that may well put her back in the lead in the general race.

          I can see why you’d wish that Obama could run again or Biden had gotten in. Hillary is a candidate with a lot of vulnerabilities, who could easily lose.

          How is it you know Sanders?

          1. 2slugbaits

            Rick Stryker Sanders’ beef with the DNC pre-dates all of this supposed rigging of the delegates stuff. It goes back to last year. The Sanders camp believes that Wasserman-Schultz set them up for failure when the DNC pushed out voter data to each of the candidates that had been collected by the DNC. There were some “dirty tricks” that were made especially suspicious by the fact that Wasserman-Schultz’s nephew was apparently the “dirty trickster” and was in charge of the computer server’s security. I don’t believe Sanders holds any ill-will towards Clinton, but things are definitely rocky between Sanders and Wasserman-Schultz.

            I know Sanders through one of my brothers, who is one of Sanders’ key action officers and regional coordinators inside the campaign. He’s also one of the guys Sanders is trying to get on the platform committee…although my brother isn’t keen on having to go to Philly that weekend.

      2. baffling

        “But policies that are unworkable are not going to be implemented and Trump doesn’t really mean them anyway. ”

        rick, just to be clear, you apparently have little issue with your politician making false statements? apparently a conservative candidate need not make honest statements regarding what policies and how he will support them? it is a pretty big step to outright support a candidate and his approach to directly lying about his policy positions. i thought the conservatives wanted the moral high ground, where honesty and integrity were the foundations of our society. it appears now it is ok to lie to get your wants?

        1. Rick Stryker


          You think there are politicians who don’t lie about their true positions? You think that when Obama and Hillary claimed consistently (until recently when the politics changed) that they were opposed to same sex marriage, they really meant that? You don’t think their supporters understood what their real positions were?

          Do you think that because Hillary has recently been talking much more like Bernie that she’ll govern much more like Bernie? Trump has generated over $2 billion in free media advertisement by making outrageous claims. Many of his supporters will be disappointed when he doesn’t follow through but quite a few of them are in on the joke.

          1. baffling

            “You think there are politicians who don’t lie about their true positions?”

            no. but i asked you directly about trump and your willingness to embrace what appears to be a candidate who intentionally lies. instead i get the same runaround from rick stryker bashing obama and clinton, rather than answering the question about the republican candidate. it is rather hypocritical to embrace a candidate who you acknowledge as being deceitful with his words while simultaneously bashing other candidates who have changed position, rather than being deceitful from the beginning. being “in on the joke” is a pretty lame excuse for rationalizing your trump support.

  4. Kevin O'Neill

    Running numbers on idiotic proposals like those of Trump gives them a veneer of respectability and seriousness which they don’t deserve.

    “Are you a frickin moron?’ is the only appropriate response.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Kevin O’Neill: I’ve been running numbers on Representative Ryan’s budget and Senator Sanders’ economic plan. I’d say they are both as implausible, although not nearly as reprehensible. In the end, however, the truth shall set you free.

      1. Trump/Sanders 2016


        I know you’re really smart and all, but the person with the best plan doesn’t win elections. People don’t vote based on plans because most of the electorate isn’t smart enough to read one even if they had the time.

        1. Menzie Chinn Post author

          Trump/Sanders: Thanks for the compliment. I know the person with the best plan doesn’t necessarily win. However, as policy analysts, we should … analyze.

  5. PeakTrader

    Even people who won’t vote for Trump are convinced he’ll be competent securing the border.

    We should’ve spent money before to secure the border. As a businessman, Trump will likely do it effectively and cheaper than lawyer-politicians, who gave us jokes like the TSA.

    1. Paul Mathis

      No need to secure the border. Just throw all the businessmen and farmers in jail who hire illegals. Oh wait, that would include Trump, Romney, etc.
      Illegals do the jobs Americans won’t and that is why they make good money here to send home to their families. We need them as much as they need us.

      1. PeakTrader

        We still need to secure the border to stop criminals, terrorists, the huge flow of drugs, etc.. The ratio of immigrants – both legal and illegal – to the U.S. population is at an all-time high. And, they’re mostly lower-skilled compared to the domestic population, unlike a hundred years ago when immigrants had roughly the same skill level as the domestic workforce. Americans would do those jobs for higher wages. Perhaps, Americans who hire illegals should go to jail, and spend some time with Illinois governors.

  6. PeterE

    Judging from what you say, if Trump wants to remove undocumented immigrants and ban Muslim entrants effectively, he will need to turn the U.S. into a police state. Is there any way to estimate the opportunity costs of making the U.S. a police state?

  7. Joseph

    It is rather embarrassing to see all of the Republicans debase themselves and grovel in submission to Trump. Trump loves groveling and submission. Little Marco, Lying Ted. Now even Rick Stryker is on his knees groveling in submission before Trump. They have no shame. And Trump smiles in triumph.

      1. randomworker

        Trump is not Big Government?

        He’s proposing more money for the military.
        More money for veterans.
        A trillion dollar infrastructure package.
        Replacing Obamacare with something cheap that everyone’s gonna love.
        No changes to Social Security or Medicare.
        A tax cut estimated at 8 to 15 trillion dollars over 10 years.
        Increasing the minimum wage (on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Decreasing it on the other days).
        Cancelling trade agreements and instituting 30% tariffs.
        Forcing companies like Apple to manufacture their products in the USA.

        I think he needs a lot of enforcers for these policies. My guess, the long decline in government employment growth will be over on Trump Inauguration Eve.

        This is small government? I am shocked that my Republican friends are able to tie themselves in such knots.

        1. Rick Stryker


          Don’t forget tax increases for the rich. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays Trump seems to favor them. And Trump’s voters don’t care if he raises taxes on the rich. Joseph’s “tax cuts for the rich” attack is so 2012. We’re in the Trump era.

          As I said to 2slugbaits, I have no illusions about Trump. Besides the tax increases for the rich, I would have added a government run healthcare system to your list. Trump has said a number of times that he thinks single payer works. He’s also proposed that veterans can use medicare, which is a step towards a public option, and that the government should be a backstop for healthcare. He’s also said that the government should negotiate drug prices.

          Trump is not a conservative. That’s why there is a #neverTrump movement among conservatives. My argument, simply put, is that Hillary will be much more big government than Trump will likely turn out to be. From a conservative point of view, Trump is likely the lesser of two evils, as his upsides exceed his downsides.

  8. Trump/Sanders 2016

    I’m a casual follower of this blog and love Trump. I hope he does build a wall. We don’t need any more poor people with no labor skills, so I hope he shuts down all immigration, not just Muslims. As far as brain drain someone mentioned above, anyone who wants to leave can. See ya.

  9. Joseph

    Rick Stryker: “If Hil[l]ary wins, we’ll all be bending our knee to BIG GOVERNMENT.”

    It just goes to show that Republicans will embrace anything — racism, white supremacy, fascism, sexism, xenophobia, militarism, genocide, torture — literally anything to advance the cause of tax cuts for the rich.

      1. sherparick

        No, its not. I am so tired of people repeating this Fox News BS.

        Just as a matter of historical fact, as a ratio of foreign born to native born, the whole 19th century saw a higher ratio then the current ratio one. And, yes there was not much illegal immigration in the 19th century because for most of it, all a person had to do was “show up” in the States by buying a ticket on a boat. Only with the Chinese Exclusion Laws (nothing particularly “racial” about that, eh Rick”) and then the the restrictive immigration laws of the 1920s and the unemployment crisis of the Great Depression, did immigration, legal and illegal, falll to an all time low. No was there much immigration from Mexico into the U.S. until WWII (until the mid-twentieth century most of the region of the American Mexican border was uninhabited wilderness). There is has been net emigration back to Mexico the last 8 years. The majority of undocumented immigrants s have been Asians (mostly Chinese) the last 8 years coming by air and ship and through Canada. And the majority of those from Central America have been fleeing crime, violence, and gangs, conditions created by our “War on Drugs” and a century and half of bloody American intervention in Central American countries.

        There has never been a perfectly secure border for a country as large a the United States and demanding a border like that created by East German state reveals a totalitarian state of mind.

        Trumpism would be serious gamble the American Republic, as he has no attachment to Democracy and his running as white identity authoritarian making a campaign promise to commit war crimes. I think he would hire a bunch of private contractors to round up anyone who looked or sounded like an immigrant, lock them up in camps, rent out their labor to farmers and businessmen, and his base would be thrilled. And since he considers all opposition “haters, scum, and lowlifes, I wonder what he will do to any political opposition. We would get the “Big State” on steroids to support Trump’s anti-Hispanic, anti-Aisan, and ant- Black agenda and a nakedly imperial foreign policy run on the principal of “might makes right.”

        1. Rick Stryker


          I think it is you who is buying into Fox BS. Trump exaggerates for effect in order to get free media coverage. He wants to to get the hysterical reaction from you because that’s how he manipulates you. People think that Trump is proposing radical new policies, policies that set him apart from the “establishment.” But he’s really not. And the problems with his proposals are not what people think.

          Take the “wall” for example, which you seem to think is evidence of Trump’s totalitarianism. This is not a new idea. The Bush Administration proposed and passed the Secure Fence Act of 2006 with bipartisan support. Obama and Hillary both voted for it. The act’s goal was to build a fence ( a wall in some places) along the Southern Border. About 600 miles was constructed from California to Texas. Bills to finish the fence by adding between 350 to 700 miles of additional fence died in committee, primarily because of the cost and criticism that a wall is not very effective.

          The Secure Fence Act was part of the Secure Border Initiative, a strategy put into place by DHS during the Bush years. The SBI was to build a coordinated technology platform of cameras, motion detectors, and towers allowing the Border Patrol to respond to attempted border crossings. Ultimately, again because of cost overuns primarily, Janet Napolitano in 2010 changed the program to be less ambitious. The new strategy was to use drones, thermal imaging, and remote video surveillance systems. The original SBI also would have implemented a temporary worker program.

          If Trump does build a wall, it will be nothing more than a resurrection of the Secure Fence Initiative. Trump’s only innovation is his claim that he’ll make Mexico pay for it. This is where the real problem lies. Trump plans to do that by using executive authority to regulate wire transfers to Mexico. Of course, that won’t work as people will find alternative payment methods. His fallback is to raise tariffs on Mexico, a counterproductive strategy. Tariffs on Mexican goods will hurt the Mexican economy much more than the US. But if we want to reduce the incentive to illegally cross the border, we want a stronger, not a weaker Mexican economy. No doubt,Trump will use bogus numbers though to talk about the all the jobs saved in the US to claim that he made Mexico pay for the wall. Of course, he will have made both countries worse off but that’s too subtle a point for most people.

    1. Rick Stryker

      Menzie and Joseph,

      Of course, your Pavlovian instinct is to throw the “isms” out. I often wonder: are you blind or are you corrupt? You’d have to be blind not to recognize the towering hypocrisy of these charges when the Left is willing to tolerate any behavior, no matter how reprehensible, as long as it advances the cause of more government control. Perhaps because he’s a former Democrat and has inside knowledge, Trump seems to believe that you are corrupt, that you know perfectly well what you are doing. Trump is willing to throw it right back at you even harder, using the same tactics. That’s a major reason that Republican voters selected him.

      For future reference, the Clinton campaign has crossed sexism off the list of “isms” to use. As Trump put it during the primary, he hasn’t even gotten started on Hillary. Over the course of the general election, I would imagine you will be crossing more “isms” off your list of pre-approved attacks.

  10. Rick Stryker


    It’s you who are giving me the runaround. You are trying to say that Trump intentionally lies, whereas Obama and Hillary changed their positions but were not deceitful from the beginning. That’s hogwash and you know it. Of course, Obama and Hillary were intentionally lying about their position on same sex marriage. You and other members of the Left knew this. You are in on the joke and you voted for them anyway. Stop pretending you have the moral high ground.

  11. baffling

    i asked you about trump and your support of him. you responded by criticizing clinton and obama, in typical stryker fashion. i simply find it fascinating that a conservative, who lives on the moral righteousness of his views on society, appears to have absolutely no problem with a candidate who cannot provide honest and truthful statements on his position. this has nothing to do with clinton and obama. it is simply an observation. apparently lying will not contribute to the breakdown of society, at least from the conservative viewpoint. but it is rather hypocritical for you to support trump and continue to be a hack towards obama and clinton. but i guess if you are “in on the joke” its ok to give a pass to trump. it’s going to be fun watching rick stryker rationalize his support for trump over the next few months.

    1. Rick Stryker


      You just can’t admit that you and other members of the Left support candidates that you know are, shall we say, stretching the truth, can you? That’s ok–I know you do that. No need to admit it.

      1. baffling

        rick, interesting, but the topic of this discussion was your support of a candidate who does not even get classified as stretching the truth. i noticed you tried to divert that topic, but i will continue to return to the topic over the course of the next few months. apparently conservative values and honesty do not go together. but your hypocrisy has been well documented on this blog.

        1. Rick Stryker


          You miss the point again and again. All politicians are dishonest. You are very naive if you think otherwise. If you think that somehow Trump is in some sort of different class of dishonesty, then you are out of touch. Take a look at this recent poll. About equal percentages think Trump and Hillary are less honest than most other politicians. But the percentage that thinks that Trump is more honest than most other politicians is twice the percentage that thinks Hillary is more honest than most other politicians. You can keep trying your sophomoric “when did you stop beating your wife questions” but the bottom line is that your candidate ain’t making it in the honesty department.

  12. baffling

    rick, you sound like a teenager using the excuse that everybody else is doing it, so its ok for me to do it as well. again, our conversation was focused on your support of a candidate who you acknowledged as unwilling to provide honest responses to his positions. i find it fascinating that a conservative such as yourself would embrace the blatant use of dishonesty. to criticize others for the same thing does appear rather hypocritical. but your embrace of dishonesty raises serious questions about the true purpose of your conservative values.

  13. Rick Stryker


    A conversation is a two-way street. It’s not up to you to decide unilaterally what we are discussing. You need to be honest and acknowledge that you support candidates who are unwilling to provide honest answers about positions. If you won’t do that, as seems to be the case, then you are dishonest partisan.

  14. baffling

    rick, its just that i never imagined conservatives values embraced intentionally dishonest behavior. i would imagine most people consider dishonesty as a poor social behavior, and never imagined conservatives actually supported such behavior. it is truly baffling that rick stryker actively supports dishonest behavior, and almost seems as though you actually encourage such behavior from your candidate. truly baffling position you have taken rick.

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