The Instigator
Con (against)
1 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
0 Points

A Border Fence for the US

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/26/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,140 times Debate No: 80198
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)




The purpose of this debate is to explore the various pros and cons of a border fence along the US/Mexico boundary.

Con will argue the position that a border fence in application is not in the best interest of the US.

Pro will argue that a border fence in application is in the best interest of the US.

Definitions -

US- United States of America (included only for clarification)

Border Fence- a secured/patrolled construction that prevents immediate egress or ingress from/into the US and Mexico that is built along the boundary between the two countries.

Best - providing the most benefit.

If the resolution or role of the debaters are unclear or the premise is vague, please do not accept and proceed to troll through rounds. Instead ask questions in the comments section, and I will attempt to address them as best I can.

Round 1- acceptance only

Round 2- Case construction, citation of sources
Round 3 - Rebuttals/refutes; evidence of said may be presented if needed
Round 4 - Reconstruction and closing remarks (no new rebuttals or new evidence may be presented, only what has thus far been discussed)

All that said:

Be it resolved, a Border fence is not in the US's best interests.

Debate Round No. 1


Thank you Pro for donning the mantle to champion a border fence.

For my opening remarks, I would like to outline exactly what immediate problems come with a “fence” as defined between the two countries.

Price - This one is obvious. When we consider the options of patrolling such a large expanse, we don’t really do the concept in an immediate view. The US/Mexico border is nearly 2,000 miles long. (1) The current staffing of the US Customs and Border Patrol agency is nearly 60,000 people, which includes pilots, officers, field agents, and specialized inspectors. (2) Looking at the simple numbers from “agents”, and “officers” we arrive at approximately 40,000 Border Patrol employees whom potentially have immediate training, the rest of which being dedicated to agriculture, support staff, and other aspects of keeping such an agency running. Dividing out that 40K number across the total mileage of the border, we roughly get one agent/officer dedicated to a stretch of border approximately the size of one foot ball field (265 feet roughly). While that doesn’t sound too bad, keep in mind, that is ALL of our ranks dedicated to one border, for one shift.To effectively cover that patch of desert, we would need at least three men for shift work, ideally three men per shift to cover for lost time incident or outage, and effectively saturate the land with good “eyes on”.

Final numbers, real rough estimate wise: 360,000 agents or officers to patrol this area effectively. Given the average low estimate salary for a starting out Customs and Border Patrol agent runs 40,000 dollars per year, lets see what the final price for just the man power comes out to: $14,400,000,000. In referencing what costs are accrued from illegal aliens in the US by state (bottom of the cited page for an easy graphic), we find that the average household’s illegal immigration costs would be substantially less than the agents paid to find them. (3) Given the significant dollar tag already attached to this project in sheer man hours, Con will forego a tally up potential hardware assets such as vehicles, protective gear, the cost of the actual fence itself, stations and structures, etc that would be needed to service such a literal “army”. On that note, there are certain precautions to be later addressed.

Punishment - Okay, what do we do with them once we catch them? Bus them back? Fly them home? Jail them? Without hitting up the price points again, we are talking about bus loads of people that would need to be detained, processed, and re-bused again with no guarantee of their cessation of return. If we were to jail these individuals, in addition to further costs for them being incarcerated, and again sucking down funds for their upkeep, we will still have to find a way to get them back home once their sentence is served. The obvious solution here is not a fence, it’s a detailed diplomatic negotiation in which Mexico pays for its citizens that have crossed over illegally. This is an incredibly complicated solution at face value, however agreements between countries are much easier to implement that the undertaking implied with a border fence. America’s interests are better served in diplomacy that heavy handed measures when it comes to the world community.

Potential for success - Will it work? While an argument from incredulity, history is riddled with examples of failed borders ranging from the Berlin Wall to the Great Wall of China. Hadrian’s Wall fell victim to ignoring the logistics mentioned under price. It seems as though such a construction would do nothing more than breed a better class of border hopper, or make engagements between the jumper and agents that much more contentious due to the patrolled and militarized nature of the border fence. Is it possible that in the dead of night, ambitious migrant workers are mistaken for a reported gang of drug traffickers? Tensions running high in such a circumstance can immediately lead to a large scale international incident. Con contends that such a risk is not near America’s goals in deterring illegal immigration.

PrecautionsAs mentioned previously, there are certain precautions to outfitting a large collection of individuals and giving them unfettered access across the private lands of citizens along the border. The Posse Comitatus Act was designed in spirit to prevent the use of the Army to engage in state disputes, or as an enforcement of laws. While the Act wouldn’t specifically apply here, the concern is apparent. A buildup of militarized hardware with the intent of “keeping the populace safe” beings to flirt dangerously close to viewing its own citizenry as immediate enemy. The “Price” section of this opening indicates raw man power, which can be mitigated through the use of various surveillance technology, though new problems arrive with what would constitute illegal spying on lawful Americans. Investing all this technology and hardware into a large collection of individuals with the tag line of “for your protection…” flies in the face of what the spirit of the Posse Comitatus Act intended to prevent. Such privacy/constitutional issues shouldn’t be broached in a manner that the creation of a border fence creates. The citizens of the US are done poorly by immediate intrusion with no real oversight as to how the operations might be conducted.

Conclusion - It seems there is no easy solution. Fitting, since this is no easy problem, and there are a lot of lives, money, and potential invasion of privacy for so little odds of success. Living in the 21st century gives us the ability to make through diplomacy a better end while still ensuring the dignity and deportation of those rounded up by means of a policy not requiring hundreds of thousands of men and women to be veritably stranded at outposts continually patrolling scrub land for people (near-do-well and illegal migrant laborer alike).



Let me start by saying that we have an Illegal Immigration problem in the United States. Maybe not as big a problem as some things facing the U.S. today but still something that policy makers need to take a look at. The simple fact is this: a border wall is an effective way for the United States to control who and what it brings across its border.

Our Border Today
Today we live in a nation with no border. While undocumented immigration is on the decline and has been since 2003. Even though progress has been made, our nation remains less safe. Not becuase the people who are crossing the border are terrible criminals, its that we don't know who is crossing our border. The PEW Hispanic Center estimates that half of a million people crossed the border in 2014(3). This is a problem that can be fixed. And not as expensively as my oppenent says it will cost.

History Of Border Fences
We see many successful examples of border walls around the world today. First let's look at our good friends Israel. Between 2000 and 2005 over 1,000 Israelis were killed by suicide bombers crossing the border and entering the country. Since the building of a double layered security fence.(2) Another example, closer to home, is the double and in some places triple layered security fence in Yuma County. In Yuma there is a fence with quick access for border patrol agents if the first fence were to be cleared. In Yuma county 96% of illegal immigration has been stopped since the building of the border fence.

Cost of Border Fence
The Israel fence costed around 1.8 Million per mile which with a fence of around 2,000 miles would come in at a rough estimate of 3.6 billion dollars. Of course the cost could be high or lower based on labor and the efficency in which the border was constructed. 3.6 billion sounds like a large cost but let's take a look at the money america would save based on the number of illegal immigrants crossing our border. A report by Heritage Foundation scholar Robery Rector shows that every Illegal immigrant that doesn't make it through the border saves the U.S. $719,350.(1) If that statistic proved to be accurate the U.S. would break even on the border fence if only 5,004 immigrants were stopped from crossing the border.

What to do with the Illegals here
There is an estimated 11.4 million immigrants in hiding in our country for fear that they could be deported if discovered. The first step in the equation is to secure the border in the ways stated above. Once we have secured the border it is time to give these people a path to citizenship. As we have seen with the Amnesty of 1986, we see a big jump in Immigration once amnesty is introduced to the Illegals in the country today. Amnesty in this case has nothing to do with rewarding illiegal activity and the actions of people who crossed the border illegally, and frankly it is none of our business to judge people who had to cross the border for any reason. A path to citizen ship is really the only choice the U.S. has at this place in time. Violent criminals should be deported, but the family of four who came to the greatest nation in the world for a chance at prosperity being deported is a waste of taxpayer money and should not in question if we are really looking for cost effective immigration reform.

(3) chrome-extension://bpmcpldpdmajfigpchkicefoigmkfalc/views/app.html?uuid=6df390b8-76de-4982-bf06-cc42fe695bff
Debate Round No. 2


In appreciation of home grown initiatives, I first decided to take a look at the Yuma Border Fence, a stretch of about 126 miles staffed with nearly one thousand agents. (1) For the time being, lets ignore the article’s overview of the border fence and cost, and look again at aggregate numbers: 1000 agents with low median salary of 40K. That comes to approximately $40,000,000 in salary, for 126 miles, give or take, for 6% of the total border. It would seem my initial staffing guestimation is off by a lot, instead of 14 billion, trained agents can get the job done across the entirety of the border for 634 million per year in salary, still have yet to discuss equipment and outpost position. Were “The Israel fence costed around 1.8 Million per mile which with a fence of around 2,000 miles would come in at a rough estimate of 3.6 billion dollars” to hold true, we have an initial start up cost, thus far, of 4.2 billion dollars.

On the matter of Israel’s success, there is a key component this is being overlooked: the construction of their border fence also involved incursions into hostile territory to find militants, and negotiated peace talks between two (effectively) warring countries. Comparison between the two (US/Israel) is not quite apples and oranges, but is very far apart indeed in the reasons for what mitigates who comes across the border and for what reasons. While I don’t mind using cost basis as something relevant to the discussion since it’s a hard number for a construction, I do find it interesting that both military action and “diplomacy” was also given credit as a major driver in the reduction of Palestinian attacks. “a 2006 report by the Shin Beit concluded that "[t]he fence does make it harder for them [terrorists]" but that attacks in 2005 decreased due to increased pursuing of Palestinian militants by the Israeli army and intelligence organizations, Hamas's increased political activity, and a truce among Palestinian militant groups in the Palestinian Territories”. (2)

Regarding what represents America’s best interests, an amnesty is of no large help either. The Heritage Foundation indeed has quite a bit to say about it, and going over the finer points would chew up a character count (and no doubt bore the audience) to an obscene degree. I will supply the conclusion from the study, though, as cited from The Fiscal Cost of Unlawful Immigrants and Amnesty to the U.S. Taxpayer (3).

“Current immigration practices, both lawful and unlawful, operate like a system of transnational welfare outreach, bringing millions of fiscally dependent individuals into the U.S. This policy needs to be changed. U.S. immigration policy should encourage high-skill immigration and strictly limit low-skill immigration. In general, government policy should limit immigration to those who will be net fiscal contributors, avoiding those who will increase poverty and impose new costs on overburdened U.S. taxpayers.”

I fail to see how “Amnesty” could factor into America’s best interests with that dire of a prospect.

The flow of immigrants needs to be cut off at the source: unlike Palestinian militants Mexican immigrants are coming here for ‘under the table’ jobs, or fraudulently received government aid. Cut this out. Rather than slapping down the immigrant, we should diplomatically engage Mexico to take responsibility for getting their nationals back, concentrate on getting them out once found (through better investigation of fraud), and most importantly make hiring an illegal immigrant a fiscal risk no employer wants to assume.



Daucremann forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


In light of the forfiet, I simply extend my previous un-refuted points, however conceed the cost may not be quite as high as originally pictured, but still a jagged pill to swallow with no appreciable guarantee of success.

I prefer not to bore the audience with a recontstruction that is not necessary.

Resolved, a Mexico/US border fence is not in America's best interest.


Daucremann forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by FaustianJustice 2 years ago
Daucremann, could I PM you regarding a different link to get to your sources? I am getting a 404, and immediate errors.
Posted by DeepInThought 2 years ago
Shoot, I got all exited when I saw this debate, and then saw that we are on the same side of the issue.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by dsjpk5 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro ff many times, so conduct to Con.