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The Contender
Con (against)

Resolved: The USFG should build a border fence along the US-Mexico Border

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/6/2017 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 1,760 times Debate No: 102437
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
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No trolling.
No semantics.
No profanities.
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All sources must be in the debate round or easily accessable by a direct link.

R1: Acceptance
R2: Case
R3: Rebuttals
R4: Rebuttals and closing


The US Border patrol has various obstacles erected on the Mexico-US Border. The current state of the border wall can be viewed here []. For this debate, we will be focusing on fencing; specifically, the completion and improvement of current fencing in order to complete a border fence along the entire border with the purpose of reducing illegal immigration.



I thank 16kadams for this debate, I think pro covered just about everything and I look forward to this debate.
Debate Round No. 1


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, 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. 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]

2. Immigration and Innovation

Over the long term, illegal immigration 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 low-skilled 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. ... 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, but the basic argument he espoused is still relevant. In theory, if you increase the supply of labor you will decrease the price of it.

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 economist, 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]

4. Immigration and Social Cohesion

Various researchers, most famously Robert Putnam, have analyzed the impact diversity & immigration levels has on social cohesion. Putnam looked at 40 regions of the U.S. and found that in regions with more diversity and immigration there were lower levels of social capital.[9] The more diverse a community was the less trust residents reported having towards their neighbours, the less people trusted local government and media outlets, the less people went out and voted, the less people worked on community projects, the fewer friends people had, and the less people gave to charity.

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, apprehensions had fallen to 9,700.[10]

Today, the fence is unfinished. 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 should look like.[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 significantly improve border security and enforcement efforts.;

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Debate Round No. 2
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Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by 16kadams 3 years ago
It's all good
Posted by mc9 3 years ago
Sorry I didn't post, I have a lot going on in my life
Posted by 16kadams 3 years ago
I accidentally made it only 8k characters so if you want 10 I can rehost it and add 2k to this if you want.
Posted by 16kadams 3 years ago
I hope I remember this XD
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