Wednesday, June 02, 2010


There are quite a few illegal immigrants in Japan. Better than any wall, Japan has ocean on all sides. But put a rich country near poorer countries and labor markets kick in. This is all obvious and helps to put into perspective the shallowness of arguments to "put a fence" at the US-Mexican border. An extra 1,200 or 6,000 agents will make little difference.

This morning's WSJ includes "The Meaningless Mantra of 'Border Security'", The writer remind us that
The most secure border in modern history was probably the Cold War border between East and West Germany. To keep their people from leaving—logistically much easier than keeping others from entering—the East Germans built more than 700 watchtowers, sprinkled more than a million antipersonnel mines, created a deep no-man's zone of barbed wire and electric fencing, and deployed nearly 50 guards per square mile with shoot-to-kill orders. Even so about 1,000 people each year somehow managed to find a way across.

Renewable work permits that would legalize a large number of crossings would make managing the border easier. But a political constituency for a sensible border-labor policy is apparently not yet formed. Instead we get lots of naive talk about how we can or should "close the border."