The Instigator
RoyLatham
Pro (for)
Winning
14 Points
The Contender
Contra
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

The United States should build and maintain a border fence (MIG R6)

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
RoyLatham
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/24/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,076 times Debate No: 25793
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (14)
Votes (3)

 

RoyLatham

Pro

A border fence should be one of the mechanisms used to control immigration and the flow of goods over U.S. borders. There are already border fences in place and they should be maintained. Border fences should be extended as needed to aid border security. This should include a 700 mile double fence on the US border with Mexico.

A border fence is not needed everywhere. There are natural obstacles in some places and in other places there are less expensive enforcement techniques. The fundamental contention is that border fences are a cost-effective part of border enforcement.

The context of this debate is the present day United States. For this debate, there is no distinction between a "fence" and a "wall." We are talking about structural barriers.

I affirm the resolution.

This debate is part of the DDO tournament sponsored by man-is-good.

Thanks to my opponent for taking up this topic.

Rules

This opening round is for definitions and acceptance only. I will give the Pro case at the start of the second round.

Standard debate conventions apply. I list them here for the benefit of new debaters and readers. I believe there is nothing tricky or eccentric. Both sides agree to the following rules, and that violating the rules is a conduct violation, with anything contrary to the rules to be ignored by readers judging the debate:

DR 1. All arguments must be made in the debate. Evidence may be cited or linked from the debate, but only in support of arguments made in the debate. Arguments made in Comments are to be ignored.

DR 2. Source links or references must be included within the 8000 characters per round limit of the debate. No links or sources are permitted in comments.

DR 3 Any term not specifically defined before use is to be taken with the ordinary dictionary definition of the term that best fits the context of the debate. The definitions given in the challenge stand as a condition of acceptance.

DR 4. No new arguments shall be made in Round 4. Arguments and evidence may be presented in R4 in rebuttal to any previous argument, but no new arguments are allowed. Rebuttals must be related to specific points, not to aspects of the resolution or contentions not previously made. Con may not introduce new sources in the final round.

DR 5. DDO site rules always apply. Neither side may add or modify rules for the debate once the challenge is accepted.

DR 6. Dropped arguments are not counted as concessions. They may be taken up again or left to be judged as part of the case.
Contra

Con

I accept. I look forward to seeing your case.
Debate Round No. 1
RoyLatham

Pro

1. Border Security is Needed

Border security is needed:

1.1. To control immigration-related benefit costs. Under the Constitution government benefits must be provided to every resident of the United States, whether legal or illegal. For example, anyone can go to a hospital emergency room and receive free medical care. Children may attend public schools and must receive educational benefits without regard to citizenship. Even when times are tough in the United States, job opportunities are better than in poor countries. Immigration costs taxpayers an estimated $113 B, and in some states like Texas, the costs exceed budget deficits. [2] Without border security, the U.S. would be flooded with illegal immigrants, destroying the economy.

1.2. For health and safety. The U.S. controls what can be imported into the United States so as to exclude unsafe food products, lead-based paints and ceramics. It regulates trucks and aircraft for safety. It forbids travel from places suffering outbreaks of communicable diseases.

1.3. To protect against crime and terrorism. Watch lists are applied. There are visa restrictions that examine the suitability of immigrants from dangerous places in the world. Human trafficking is prohibited. "Human trafficking is the third-largest global criminal enterprise, exceeded only by drug and arms trafficking, … By some estimates, the industry is growing, and the [worldwide] illegitimate gain from the industry is as high as $32 billion per year." [1]

California currently houses 19,000 illegals in its prison system, convicted of non-immigration crimes, comprising about 20% of it's $11 billion corrections budget. 17% in Federal prisons are illegal. [6, 7] Additionally, the crimes they committed extracted significant financial and emotional costs on their victims.

1.4. To prohibit contraband. Recreational drugs are part of this, but there are also prohibitions on prescription drugs. Unregulated use of antibiotics, for example, poses a public health risk by facilitating the development of drug resistant strains. Endangered species and products derived from endangered species are prohibited. Fake prescription drugs, fake aircraft parts, fake luxury goods, and illegal use of intellectual property.

1.5. To reduce illegal arms exports. Fences work both ways, so a border fence will help control export of weapons to drug lords and other unauthorized consumers.

1.6. To collect taxes. Even if narcotics and other drugs were legalized, the US would still want to collect taxes on them. Judging from the "sin" taxes on alcohol and tobacco, the taxes would be steep, and well worth avoiding.

2. A border fence is effective

2.1 Most of the fence the US has built along the Mexican Border is ineffective because it can be easily traversed by climbing over it without a ladder or punching a hole thorough it. However, effective border fencing has been developed and proven. Effective fencing comprises two reinforced fences with a patrol road between them. Congress authorized building 700 miles of such fence, but only 36.3 miles have been built. [3]

The effectiveness of the fencing is proved in San Diego where a double fence cut illegal apprehensions by 95%. [10] Other areas with double fencing show similar effectiveness. [4, p. 14 ff]

The double fencing consists of two steel walls 15 feet high and 100 yards apart. Sensors placed between the walls, including cameras, detect intruders. [5] Additional obstacles may be included between the walls, such as barbed wire. The contained access road allows the Border Patrol to rush to an intrusion site before the intruders can traverse the second fence. One design features three rows of closely-spaced four-inch-diameter steel pipes filled with concrete and set in a reinforced concrete foundation. Other designs use welded steel walls.

Fencing less effective than the proposed double fence reduced illegal crossings by 94% in the Yuma district. A 1.5 mile strip of even-more secure triple fencing is described as "impenetrable." [9]

2.2 While most of the existing fencing is ineffective at keeping people from crossing the border, it is effective at preventing vehicle crossing. A vehicle barrier constructed on the ecologically sensitive border of Organ Pipe National Monument reduced crossings to nearly zero. [11]

2.3 The cost of double fence varies between $3.8 million and $10 million per mile. [5] Some urban areas have higher costs, but there are not many urban areas on the border, and costs could be lowered by legislation tat block nuisance lawsuits. 700 miles of the fence would cost between $2.6 B and $7 B. The 2012 budget for the Department of Homeland Security is $57. billion. However, a fence would last for many years, say 20 years, so the amortized construction cost at the top estimates would be about $ 0.35 B. Maintenance costs would increase that, so $ 0.5 billion per year is a reasonable cost estimate. That's a trivial part of the Homeland Security budget, and it would be repaid if it it reduced illegal immigration costs by even a half percent.

Present short segments of double fence are not fully effective because illegal routes are pushed to more remote areas. That raises the question of how effective a completed fence would be. We know it would be extremely effective because the Israelis have installed a complete fence and found it works.

In Israel, a 500 mile high security fence was constructed in 2003 to deter terrorism. "Pursuant to the security fence's "sole purpose of saving lives of innocent citizens who continue to be targeted by the terrorist campaign that began in 2000," there has been more than a 70 percent drop in the number of fatal casualties – … Israel is paying about $3.7 million per mile for its fence – which includes all the techno-sensors and monitors that go with it - and the castle-like structures - once all of the engineering, construction, and operational costs are calculated." [8] Terrorists, willing to die in suicide bombing, are considerably more determined than either ordinary illegal immigrants or drug smugglers, yet their fence is effective.

100% effectiveness is neither expected nor required. The goal of a border fence is deterrence. No border security measure is 100% effective, yet most nations have some border security. The goal is to reduce the costs to society of uncontrolled borders. The cost of border fence would easily be repaid even if the reduction were a small percentage.

3. A border fence will allow more legal immigration

The U.S. wants and needs immigration. However, the country benefits from screening immigrants to keep out criminals, to select skills important to the country's economy, and to control the conditions of residence. We would benefit from having many more skilled workers. Unskilled workers should be limited to employers who need them and who apply for work visa permits. A border fence helps bring immigration under control. The purpose is to stop illegal immigration, not to prevent immigration.

The resolution is affirmed.

[1] http://www.payvand.com...
[2] http://www.foxnews.com...
[3] http://nation.foxnews.com...
[4] http://www.americanpatrol.com...
[5] http://www.globalsecurity.org...
[6] http://www.california-criminal-law.com...
[7] http://archive.newsmax.com...
[8] http://www.hstoday.us...
[9] http://www.csmonitor.com...
[10] http://www.npr.org...
[11] http://www.nps.gov...
Contra

Con

Contra forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
RoyLatham

Pro

Open borders are incompatible with welfare

Nobel-prize-winning libertarian economist Milton Friedman said “It’s just obvious you can’t have free immigration and a welfare state,” [12. http://www.nationalreview.com...] Friedman was quoted by Robert Rector, a leading national authority on poverty, the U.S.welfare system and immigration and is a Heritage Foundation Senior Research Fellow. He elaborates on Friedman's point:

To be fully understood, Friedman’s comment should be viewed as applying not merely to means-tested welfare programs such as food stamps, Medicaid, and public housing, but to the entire redistributive transfer state. In the “transfer state,” government taxes the upper middle class and shifts some $1.5 trillion in economic resources to lower-income groups through a vast variety benefits and subsidies. Across the globe, this sort of economic redistribution is the largest, if not the predominant, function of government in advanced societies.

The transfer state redistributes funds from those with high-skill and high-income levels to those with lower skill levels. Low-skill immigrants become natural recipients in this process. On average, low-skill immigrant families receive $30,160 per year in government benefits and services while paying $10,573 in taxes, creating a net fiscal deficit of $19,587 that has to be paid by higher-income taxpayers.

There is a rough one-to-one fiscal balance between low-skill immigrant families and upper-middle-class families. [12 op cit]

We can permit low-skilled labor by having a visa system that ensures that workers are gainfully employed and their employer pays any implicit costs like health care for e worker. With a visa system, workers with seasonal employment can freely return to their home country. It all depends upon having secure borders, which a border fence substantially supports.

The border fence is relatively cheap

The border fence is remarkably inexpensive. Talking about several million dollars per mile or more to construct sounds impossibly high, but the amortized cost works out to only about $0.5 billion of the $57 billion Homeland Security Budget. That data show the type of double fence advocated to be extremely effective, and an only slightly more expensive triple fence to be virtually impenetrable.

One claim is that if a fence stops conventional overland access, then illegal activities will simply move to remote locations or to other methods of illegal entry. The reason that border crossing is e prevalent method for illegal entry from Mexico is because it is now the easiest method. It is not necessary to make every access method impossible, it is only necessary to make the illegal activity so likely to fail as to not be worth the effort for most. Putting a lock on your front door is not an impenetrable barrier, but it discourages many potential miscreants. Few preventive measures of any type are 100% effective, but many are worthwhile. The border fence is easily justified.

The border fence in Israel cut attacks by highly motivated terrorists by 70%, meaning that only 30% found other methods of entry. When a fence is recognized as essentially impenetrable, border patrol officers can be reassigned to policing other methods of entry.

A border fence is humane

Immigrants suffer severely in failed attempts to cross the Mexican border. Shoot outs with drug smugglers take a heavy toll on law enforcement officers protecting the border. Strict border enforcement will mean that the routes are shut off and few will attempt to make the crossing. That's positive for both sides.

Many reasons for border security

I can see a theoretical argument for open borders for people seeking employment, even though the argument ultimately fails due to welfare costs. However, I don't see even a theoretical argument for unrestricted access by criminals and terrorists, or for human trafficking, counterfeit pharmaceuticals, products of endangered species, and other items on the list of reasons.


A border fence is effective and inexpensive. Congress came to that conclusion and appropriated funds for is construction. It should be built.

Contra

Con

Contra forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
RoyLatham

Pro

My opponent has forfeited without offering a position or making a case. This is unfortunate. All of my contentions stand. Per the terms of debate, no new arguments can be introduced in the last round.

The resolution is affirmed.
Contra

Con

It has been very unfortunate that I haven't been able to find the time to create any arguments, and thus I urge the voters to vote Pro.

(Concession)
Debate Round No. 4
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Smithereens 5 years ago
Smithereens
@Midas,
be careful, there are people who will go out of their way to make you look bad O_o
Posted by RyuuKyuzo 5 years ago
RyuuKyuzo
There's nothing more annoying than reading the opening arguments to a debate only to realize the debate ended up as a full FF. =_=
Posted by Midas 5 years ago
Midas
I regret the comment Roy. When I saw that he supports open borders I wrote him off; I apologize.
Posted by RoyLatham 5 years ago
RoyLatham
It is not a fact that "95% of libertarians are kids." The CATO Institute is a libertarian think tank, so they may be inclined to define libertarianism more broadly than others, but they have some interesting data:

"We find that 14 percent of American voters can be classified as libertarian. Other surveys find a larger number of people who hold views that are neither consistently liberal nor conservative but are best described as libertarian. A 2009 Gallup poll found that 23 percent held libertarian views. A Zogby poll found that 59 percent considered themselves "fiscally conservative and socially liberal," and 44 percent agreed that they were "fiscally conservative and socially liberal, also known as libertarian." ... "Younger libertarians were more supportive of Obama. Pro-life libertarians are more Republican than pro-choice libertarians." http://www.cato.org...

I am sympathetic to many libertarian positions. Note that not all libertarians agree with open borders. In the debate I cited Nobel-prize economist Milton Friedman who qualifies both as libertarian and old.

An important feature of debate is that only the arguments in the debate count. A young person may know a whole lot about a particular debate issue, and that's all that counts. They do tend to have a problem showing up reliably, but if you are young meeting commitments to education and family should take precedence over Internet debating.
Posted by Midas 5 years ago
Midas
Do you want me to have a debate within a debate? I'm just reporting facts.
Posted by Man-is-good 5 years ago
Man-is-good
Mildas, commenting on the worth/ preparation of a debater is quite rude conduct. Hopefully you realize that outright saying that a member is not "up to the debate. I mean, he wants open borders according to his profile... that's not even a rational position," without giving the slightest shred of reasoning or evidence whatsoever (lol)....
Posted by Midas 5 years ago
Midas
You are obviously a smart kid, otherwise you wouldn't be on here. There is a reason why 95% of libertarians are kids, though.
Posted by Contra 5 years ago
Contra
Midas, are you one of those new accounts? Welcome to DDO. First, I'm 16. Second, open borders do not mean that there are no borders, it just means open, free immigration. But since I'm just a stupid teenager all my opinions must be scrutinized before taken seriously :P
Posted by Midas 5 years ago
Midas
I don't think the 15 year old libertarian is up to the debate*
Posted by Midas 5 years ago
Midas
I'll be blunt. I don't think the 15 year old libertarian isn't up to the debate. I mean, he wants open borders according to his profile... that's not even a rational position.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Smithereens 5 years ago
Smithereens
RoyLathamContraTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: well, rather interesting that Pro can be bothered going ahead to post his second arguments when there is a forfeit in the last round.
Vote Placed by RyuuKyuzo 5 years ago
RyuuKyuzo
RoyLathamContraTied
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: Concession.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 5 years ago
16kadams
RoyLathamContraTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: FF