Immigration From Mexico Could Soon Plummet — Even Without a Border Wall

A view of Tijuana and the U.S.-Mexico border fence.

President Donald Trump swept into office on a platform whose most clear plank was a promise to “build that wall.” As president, Trump has taken swift steps to make good on the promise – the government is already soliciting design proposals for the project.

While this might have been a handy campaign slogan, the economic forces that push and pull people across borders are changing such that the wall could be a moot barrier before it is even finished.

Any proposal to finish building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico’s border assumes that immigration from Mexico has always happened in large numbers and always will. Previous attempts to build barriers under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama — whether physical or virtual — have been prohibitively expensive and primarily succeeded in pushing illegal crossings further into the borderland deserts. As the U.S. prepares to invest tens of billions of dollars in Trump’s project, it is worth asking whether immigrants from Mexico are likely to continue coming north at the same rates, particularly given research showing that economic considerations…