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Resolved: The United States Federal Government should build a border fence.

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Voting Style: Judge Point System: Select Winner
Started: 5/7/2016 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 867 times Debate No: 90763
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (15)
Votes (2)




I would like to thank 16kadams for this debate ahead of time for this.


This is a part of Tej's DEBATE OF THE WEEK efforts, and this will be this week's DEBATE OF THE WEEK! For more details please view the link:(

The Full resolution is "Resolved: The United States Federal Government should build a border fence along the US-Mexico Boarder.

Round 1 is rules and definitions for Con, Pro may begin his Constructive Case.
Round 2 Con may begin his Constructive Case (No Rebuttals), Pro will begin his rebuttals.
Round 3 Rebuttals (Pro may also post his conclusions)
Round 4 Rebuttals and Conclusion by Con. Pro will post "No round as agreed upon."
If Pro posts anything, but what is posted above then it is an automatic forfeiture.
No trolling.
No semantics.
No profanities.
No Machine gunning/shotgunning arguments.
No source spamming
All sources must be in the debate round and accessable by direct link. (tinyurl works)

The United States Federal Government is established by the US Constitution. The Federal Government shares sovereignty over the United Sates with the individual governments of the States of US. The Federal government has three branches: i) the legislature, which is the US Congress, ii) Executive, comprised of the President and Vice president of the US and iii) Judiciary. The US Constitution prescribes a system of separation of powers and ‘checks and balances’ for the smooth functioning of all the three branches of the Federal Government. The US Constitution limits the powers of the Federal Government to the powers assigned to it; all powers not expressly assigned to the Federal Government are reserved to the States or to the people. (

Should-must; ought (used to indicate duty, propriety, or expediency) (

Mexico–United States barrier is a series of walls and fences aimed at preventing illegal crossings from Mexico into the Southwestern United States (


The Need to Control Immigration

Immigration across the southern border floods the labor market with low-skilled workers, creating a slack (or loose) labor market. This means business owners now have the ability to choose from a large selection of workers instead of having to compete with other businesses for labor in order to attract and retain staff.

Loose labor markets have two big effects on the economy: Loose labor markets reduce the bargaining power of individual workers, meaning lower wages and less opportunity for economic advancement for those at lower economic levels. Second, loose labor markets, by making wages lower than they otherwise would be, incentivizes the use of low-wage labor over more efficient automation, leading to lower productivity in the long-run.

Proponents of immigration claim it increases the size of the economy. This is technically true, as more people mean a larger economic pie. But what they fail to mention is that the effect of immigration—a slack labor market—runs contrary to the goals of modern democratic society: A society in which there is a thriving middle-class and upward mobility.

While restricting immigration would not mean the labor market would always be tight, as it would fluctuate during recessionary and expansionary periods, it would mean the market would remain tighter longer during expansions and would be loose for shorter periods of times during recessions.

1. Immigration and Inequality

One of the principal effects of increased immigration is to swell the ranks of the poor and to hollow out the middle class. Some degree of income inequality is not bad, and in a market based system, some income inequality is a good thing. But the simple fact is, income inequality is real, and has been increasing dramatically for decades. High levels of inequality have been associated with lower civic engagement, less social trust, less political participation, higher crime, and worse health outcomes.[1]

It is possible inequality would have increased even if we had entirely closed borders over the past few decades, but there is no reason the trend should be exacerbated by poor immigration policy. Immigration increases inequality as it “benefits high-skilled workers and owners of capital” but fails to help “low-skilled workers or those who do not own capital.”[2]

California, the state most affected by the recent immigrant wave, saw real wages for the top 10th of male workers rise 13 percent while the bottom quarter saw its rages fall 40 percent between 1969 – 1997. A Report by the Public Policy Institute of California concluded the major cause of this was a large increase in the immigrant population and depressed wages for native-born workers, something which was likely caused by loose labor markets as a result of immigration.[3]

The levels of inequality in this country are nearing unsustainable levels, and liberal immigration policy will make the problem worse.

2. Immigration and Innovation

Over the long term, immigration—which supplies large amounts of wage labor—will reduce long-term productivity and innovation. Throughout history, economic development has relied upon increasing productivity; indeed, over time, workers have been producing more and more output per capita. The reason productivity has increased so dramatically since the industrial revolution has been because of innovation and automation.

But capital substitutes labor only when the price of labor is high. Large numbers of immigrants in this country, by lowering the price of labor, therefore prevents automation and innovation. A report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston cautions that the new wave of illegal immigration will slow U.S. productivity.[4]

Low-skilled immigrants, which artificially suppress wages and increase the supply of low-skilled labor, act as a subsidy for low-wage workers. This means employers will, in the presence of large-scale immigration, will opt towards using more low-productivity labor rather than more productive machines. By preventing scarcity—which causes innovation—immigrants reduce productivity in sectors that rely on low-wage labor.

The California agricultural industry offers a good test for this. Between 1960-1975, the industry entered a period of mechanization because there was scarcity of low-wage labor. As congress ended the Bracero program (which allowed low-wage workers from Mexico to work in the U.S.), and agricultural labor extremely scarce, productivity quintupled and demand for labor in those industries fell 89%; the real price of goods also fell.[5] As immigration was reduced, industries relying on immigrants thrived. Higher rates of immigration, therefore, hampered innovation in these industries and made them less productive.

3. Immigration and Wages

Economist Paul Samuelson, in his famous textbook Economics, once remarked that, “By keeping labor supply down, immigration policy tends to keep wages high. Let us underline this basic principle: Limitation of the supply of any grade of labor relative to all other productive factors can be expected to raise its wage rate; an increase in supply will, other things being equal, tend to depress wage rates.”[6]

Samuelson’s book was published decades ago, and may correctly be criticized for being too outdated to provide any solid insight on the topic. But the basic argument he made is clear, and, in my view, still relevant: In theory, if you increase the supply of labor, you will decrease the price of it ceteris paribus—in other words, immigration reduces wages.

Samuelson’s statements have since been confirmed in many recent reports. In 1997, the National Academy of Sciences published a comprehensive report on the issue, and noted that immigration “harms workers who are substitutes for immigrants while benefiting workers who are complements to immigrants. Most economists believe that unskilled domestic workers are the substitutes, so their wages will fall, and skilled domestic workers are complements, so their wages will rise.”[7] In other words, immigration tends to harm low-skilled native workers while helping higher-skilled ones, worsening inequality and, more importantly, hurting the poor.

Harvard economist George Borjas, hailed by many as the leading immigration economists, has calculated that recent waves of immigration reduces an average high-school dropout’s income by $1,800. The impacts were more significant for native minorities, too. A typical white worker saw a wage decline of 3.5% whereas a black worker saw a decline of 4.5%. Wages of native born Hispanics fell the most at 5%.[8]

In order to protect low-skilled Americans, immigration must be controlled.

4. Immigration and Employment

Immigration likely does not affect the employment of most Americans, though they do have a significant effect on low-skilled workers, especially minorities. One study found that increased migration was responsible for “25 percent of the decline in employment, and about 10 percent of the rise in incarceration rates among blacks with a high school education or less” for native African Americans.[9]

The job displacement is real in African American communities, and the constant claim that immigrants only take jobs natives do not want ignore the fact many in minority communities would love to work, even in low-paying jobs, but can’t, due to immigration.

A Border Fence is Part of an Overall Immigration-Control Policy

While a border fence is not sufficient to bring down rates of immigration, it is a necessary part of immigration control. A border fence is one important tool among many to control illegal immigration.

In 1993, illegal immigrant apprehensions in El Paso reached 286,000, a record for the region. Historically, El Paso was one of the largest immigrant crossings into the US because of the close proximity between Juarez and El Paso. Following the surge in apprehensions, a border fence was built and completed in the area. In 2012, the apprehensions had fallen to 9,700, indicating a decrease in illegal crossing activity.[10]

The fence, along with increased enforcement, had begun to deter and prevent border crossings. Today, along the border, the fence is unfinished and, in most cases, sub-par. You could create a very effective fence that would dramatically slow down the rate of entry and give border patrol time to interdict those who are crossing the border. The point of the fence is not to make it impossible to cross; rather, the point of the fence is to give border officials more time to respond.

Below is a picture of what a completed border fence would look like. There are two fence lines, a pyramid in between, and underground censors for those who attempt to dig under the fence. There would also be surveillance areas and command posts in order to look over the area above ground.[11] The guard posts could be placed in a way to ensure officials would be able to arrive at the scene of a crossing within 5 minutes, and an access road for Patrol to use would also be placed alongside the fence.

These high-tech fences would prove to be much more effective than most of the current fencing on the border and would significantly improve border security and enforcement efforts.

1. Krikorian, Mark. The New Case Against Immigration: Both Legal and Illegal (New York: Penguin Group, 2008): 146.
2. Bell-Rose, Stephanie and Frank D. Bean, eds., Immigration and Opportunity: Race, Ethnicity, and Employment in the United States (New York: Russel Safe Foundation, 1999): 13.
3. Krikorian, 148.
5. Krikorian, 151.
7. Smith, James P and Barry Edmonston, eds. The New Americas: Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Effects of Immigration (Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 1997), 140.
8. Krikorian, 139.

Debate Round No. 1


I would like to thank my opponent for this debate and being as patient as he was for me to post my own argument.


For this debate I shall be running the following counter-plan: Resolved: Mexico shall build the US-Mexico border wall.

In this counter-plan, Mexico will pay for the wall and build this wall. In this round, I shall go into how this will work and how this is preferable to the US building the wall.

Contention 1: US Hegemony

Ever since the Beginning of the Obama administration, US hegemony has been on the decline where the influence in Foreign affiars has began to decline. If you ever look at his achievements under foreign policy, there isn't much to brag about. US has failed to help end conflicts in Syria and detter the Russians in Ukraine. Other global events show the US has began to deline post Housing Bubble [1].

US hegemony is extremely important to the world as it help deters terrorism. A huge weakness in the Obama administration was that his lack of foreign policy and wanning of the US Hegemony helped lead to the rise of ISIS. The US hegemony is key in detering terrorism as any and all amounts of US policy should be devoted to national security and through this, the world becomes safer. This was shown at nearly every major event that the US would lead the charge to help people in need around the world to help fight off injustice and the terrorist movements [2]. The most recent one was the War on Terror and the US influence over a great deal of the Western nations. In having Mexico building the wall, the US is showing that the US still is a world power it was when the Soviet Union collapsed, allowing US leadership to help contain world issues. In this stage, the US is showing their influence by having Mexico create the wall that would benefit both nations. This influence would help show the world that the US is still the Hegemonic power it was and this will increase US influence in many different events leading to the crack down of many world events that the Obama Administration has failed to stop. A collapse in the US's polarity will result not in a multilateral brigade, but an anarchy on an international level that will make terrorism more possible.

Today we have reached a new age of terrorism where we have cyberterrorism, biological, and chemcial attakcs on innocent people. With the fall of US hegemony and the rise in terror, these types of disasters are going and will soon come home. There have been reports that ISIS is currently moving into the US from the open US-Mexico border and closing this off will be a key way to protect Americans at home from terror [3]. Things are getting a little too close for comfort as after several terror strikes oversees, ISIS has labled the US as a target for a terror attack. After the attacks in Europe, it was learned that ISIS was spying on Belgian nuclear officials and with US nuclear reactors leaking. It is possible that the US can be attacked via dirty bomb or the US can have a Fukishima incident [4]. Having the US Hegemony increased, the US will be able to help influence their allies to increase their efforts in a war against ISIS and other organizations to prevent such an event from occuring as such an event would be deadly.

Contention 2: US Debt

We can’t project power from bankruptcy court.- US Senator Rand Paul

Today the US debt is climbing to astronomical numbers. It is $19 trillion and climbing. This disaterous spending causes US inflation, and on top of the US debt this will cause a catastrophe for the US and nations all across the world. [5]

People would have to spend more money, becuase of the inflation and with the devaluing of the dollar we can see that if I spent a dollar on the US maket in the 1960s it would be a whole lot more then if I spent a dollar on the US market today. Economist Gagnon has shown that devaluing of the US dollar caused by the inflation can lead to a massive increase in import prices and since we get many of our things from abroad it will be even harder to get that new XBox video game you were wanting. He also shown that it harms nation's holding our debt, because the value is worthless and makes other nation's not want to purchase from us. The US in turn raises the interest rates, but we cannot afford to raise them any higher. [6]Why's this you may ask? If we observe the graph bellow the US interest rate on debt alone dwarfs most of the US federal budget. The US federal debt is getting so enourmously large that the US is getting to a breaking point in economic trade to were we have to pay off a massive amount of debt or commit financial suicide and raise the interest rates. If we observe the chart bellow we can see the different rates that a our interest rates will cost the US in the future. We have no choice, but cannot decend this slippery slope and further devaluing of the US dollar will harm the American economy by forcing us to lose jobs and rely more on imports causing the the nation to slide into the interest disadvantage furthering harming our nation's economy causing a world wide economic collapse greater than that of the Great Depression and rising the inflation will cause us to go flying off the fiscal cliff. [7]

This debate we have to observe Ceteris Paribus, which means with all other things constant. With the US spending continuing to spiral upwards, we will see the US default in the near future. Though many people will ask, how did we get here. The US is and has been following a famous economic system that was under John Maynard Keynes. He argued that we should spend now and constantly to create jobs and grow the economy. The key issue with this is that Keynessian economics requires deficet spending for much of it's effects to work. Keynes had only meant for this to be during times of economic crisis, but the US Federal Government has gotten into an issue that has destroyed the economy with debt. What was Keynes's solution for debt due to his spending? "In the long run, we're all dead." [8] This means the debt is passed onto our grandchildren and their grandchildren until they collapse under the burden that we have done now. Many people talk about how much of an issue the debt is today and the fact is that it's not getting any better. If we continue this crisis then the US economy will crash. What happens when the US defaults? The markets will crash followed by large economic powers collapse. Japan, a holder of well over $1 trillion of US debt will lose this money which will lead to an economic recession of 20%. [9] Many other countries will follow suit.

It is estimated that the US-Mexico wall will cost $25 billion which has yet to include maintance costs and it is shown to excede that number with maintance after 7 years and skyrockets will baloon. Israel's wall costs up to $260 million in maintance per year [10] My opponent has yet to provide an exact number, but with the amount of money will cost will have the US increase their debt which will increase the likelihood of US collapse which would destroy the Global economy as I had previously brought up. By having Mexico pay for the wall, the US does not have to go through this and could focus on spending in other areas or even having to pay off their own debts.

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8. See video for quick guide to Keynesian economics.
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I have very few disagreements with Lannan’s arguments here. This argument is simply an argument in favor of border fences, which works under my first argument. The only place he really differs from my position is in his second argument, which we will come to in a little bit.

What I will say, however, is forcing Mexico to pay for the border wall will weaken the position of the U.S. even further and would be against our security interests.

First, let’s start out by saying: how would the USFG ensure that Mexico builds the wall? The wall runs contrary to Mexican interests, and this is why Mexico lobbies—and lobbies hard—against immigration controls. Mexicans receive $25 billion in the form of remittances from American immigrants, and this number actually now exceeds the amount the country receives from oil revenues.[1] Building an effective fence would reduce the amount of money the Mexican government would receive in tax revenue (not to mention harm families who sent their breadwinner to the United States). The Mexican government should not be expected to simply lay on its back and surrender when a border fence threatens a revenue source larger than oil and gas.

So, how would we force them to build the wall? Or would we threaten military force, threaten harsh tariffs if they refuse to comply? Simply asking them to pay for the wall because immigration harms us would not work—they care about their interests, not ours. And both of these—military force and/or enacting tariffs—would weaken U.S. hegemony.

1) Threatening force in this situation would look like an unprovoked (or, at least, a very weakly justified) use of force. This would make us look untrustworthy and immoral to our European and Middle Eastern allies whom we rely upon to counter our enemies. It would also have repercussions in the Asian theatre, too—and that’s the only theatre our position has consistently improved since Nixon was in office.

2) In order to enforce tariffs in order to encourage the Mexicans to build the wall, we would have to renege the promises made in NAFTA. Whatever your views on the legislation, breaking NAFTA would make us look untrustworthy in the eyes of our allies: we broke a longstanding treaty, on weak grounds, in order to get a fence built. Our allies would worry—arguably correctly—that we may renege trade deals we have made with them, too, if we ever need them to do something for us. It would tatter our image and would validate the caricatures our enemies have painted of us.

Not only would that, but Mexico— even if they build it— have no incentives to make it work. And even if they did make it perfectly, they would be incentivized to do it slowly and inefficiently. Of course, we could threaten (1) and (2), but that would, as noted, weaken our position as the leader of the free world.

Debt crisis?

This is the real difference my opponent and I have for this debate. This argument is extremely weak for a few reasons.

First, the amount of the budget that would be consumed by the border fence would be infinitesimally small. My opponent cites $260 million a year in maintenance costs, which may sound large, but the phrase “a drop in the bucket” exaggerates how large that is. The 2015 budget is $3.8 trillion dollars.[2] $260 million a year in maintenance costs would only be 0.0068% of the 2015 budget. Using Lannan’s $25 billion in initial construction costs—I will simply accept the number—is only 0.6% of the 2015 budget. To say 0.6% of the 2015 budget—and 0.0068% in the following years—will cause a budget crisis is laughable. Even assuming we would have a budget crisis (we wouldn’t), making the Mexicans—or anyone else, for that matter—pay for the border fence would do nothing to prevent a budget crisis. Nothing.

Second, Lannan—in order to prevent a spending counterplan from myself—says this debate is “ceteris paribus.” That doesn’t even make sense. The current border wall is not complete, and where it has been built it was done so insufficiently. The resolution itself—“the U.S. should”—implies that the fence will be built in the future. The future will be different than it is today, so saying the world in which we build the border fence will be the same as it is today is absurd.

Not only that, but my opponent’s counterplan is anything but ceteris paribus! Building a fence, getting Mexico to pay for it (likely by reneging a trade deal or threatening force) is entirely hypothetical! If this debate was “ceteris paribus,” neither one of us would have much to talk about, and surely Lannan’s counterplan would be thrown out.

Thus, there is nothing prohibiting me from posting a counter plan in regards to government spending.

Third, the U.S. won’t, and probably never will, have a debt crisis. We are not Greece, we are not Spain, we are not Ireland, and we are not Italy.

-- Debt will cause inflation? Well, first, my response to that is simple: good. U.S. inflation is terrifyingly low right now, and a few percentage points in higher inflation would be a positive development for our economy. But my opponent is correct that expansionary policy leads to more inflation—but he does not explain why, which is important. High inflation due to more demand and a vibrant economy is not a bad thing—something extremists and fear mongering politicians always forget.

Here’s why spending increases inflation: “If expansionary fiscal policy achieves its intended purpose of boosting output and employment, the increased money supply will match increased demand for money needed for a higher level of transactions. Expansionary fiscal policy would only fuel inflationary pressures in the economy and place upward pressure on interest rates if the accompanying increases in demand pushed the economy close to, or beyond, full capacity output.”[3]

In other words, the type of inflation being caused is the good kind, the kind caused by increased demand and growth—not over printing!

-- U.S. debt default? All of my opponent’s arguments here are what ifs. The U.S. will never default on its debt. Ever. You can’t compare us to the other countries that have: we have a much larger economy than they do and are much more important. Japan is the closest example we have, as they are a large and influential economy. Japan’s debt to GDP ratio hit 200% in 2013. We’re over 100% below them, at 97%.[4] Japan hasn’t defaulted on their debt. When we get to that point (more accurately, if we get to that point) we likely won’t either. It should also be noted Japan has problems we don’t have—like a shrinking population and deflation (there goes that debt inflation argument…)—which exacerbate the problem. In the U.S., with neither of those problems, we have even less to fear.

So, to summarize: (1) Making Mexico pay for the wall will do NOTHING to prevent any of the harms my opponent complains about; (2) Many of his worries are flat our wrong; (3) We don’t have to look at this debate “ceteris paribus.” I am allowed to present a counterplan to deal with the debt while, at the same, time, maintaining border security—a superior option.

How to really deal with debt

My opponent’s plan would do nothing to deal with mounting debt. In fact, it would likely make it worse: it distracts us from more viable options.

The solution is to adopt AEI’s spending cut plan.[5] The plan would “hold the national debt to 62.7 percent of annual gross domestic product (GDP) in 2040,” lower than it is today and far below the threshold of default. In the limited space I have I won’t be able to provide the entire plan, but here are the highlights. Those who are interested can look at [5].

Replace the current tax code with an X tax. The X tax is much more conducive to economic growth and prosperity than the current tax code is—the current tax code punishes savings and investment income—and the pro-growth tax code would lead to “additional revenue.”

Reform Social Security. A flat benefit of $850 a month will be given to any person above age 65 (earliest eligibility age is 62 right now). This would increase benefits for about one third of people but reduce benefits for high- and middle- income workers, substantially reducing costs and more effectively transferring wealth to those who truly need it. Providing private options to people (option, not full privatization), etc.

Reform Healthcare. Medicare eligibility would gradually be increased to 67 years of age to accommodate longer lifespans. Premiums would also increase, but it would be based on income—only the wealthy would be affected. Medicaid would also be reformed with federal payments being capped, though states who found more efficient ways to offer the service would have the ability to increase local payments in order to make up for the fewer benefits.

All of these policies would save trillions in the long term—not the puny millions and billions saved by forcing Mexico to build the wall. If you are really worried about debt, a border fence is not an issue—in fact, as immigrants cost the state huge amounts in welfare costs, the U.S. constructing it would likely save in the long-term. Instead of focusing on non-issues, we need to focus on the big picture: how do we reduce debt? We do it by reforming the tax code and reforming entitlements, not forcing our allies to build a wall.


Debate Round No. 2


My opponent and I have agreed to end this debate in a tie.
Debate Round No. 3


Debate Round No. 4
15 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by 16kadams 5 months ago
Actually I will wait till morning to give you more time
Posted by 16kadams 5 months ago
I didn't really proofread this so hopefully it isn't sh!t
Posted by 16kadams 5 months ago
I know I was gonna point it out m8
Posted by tejretics 5 months ago
>In this counter-plan, Mexico will pay for the wall and build this wall.

(1) Lol... Trump triumph!

(2) In the resolution, the actor is the USFG, so any CP has to involve action by the USFG. In other words, there needs to be a way by which the USFG can ensure that Mexico builds the wall.
Posted by 16kadams 5 months ago
"In this counter-plan, Mexico will pay for the wall and build this wall."

Posted by 16kadams 5 months ago
lmfao alright
Posted by lannan13 5 months ago
Not 20 plus sources a round.
Posted by 16kadams 5 months ago
"No source spamming"
LOL, what is that supposed to mean!
Posted by lannan13 5 months ago
TUF, DK, YYW, Whiteflame, and Objectivity.
Posted by tejretics 5 months ago
Who are the judges, btw? (Just out of curiosity...nothing to do with this being a DOTW.)
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Hayd 5 months ago
Who won the debate:--
Reasons for voting decision: I was prepped to read a long, source spammed boring thingy, but then I scrolled through and saw you guys agreed to a
Vote Placed by whiteflame 5 months ago
Who won the debate:--
Reasons for voting decision: Agreed to a tie. Too bad, looked interesting.