The filmmakers at the Rational Middle have now released three additional installments of their documentary series on immigration, first tackling the question of whether a physical barrier along the United States’ international boundary with Mexico would have any positive impact.
"Keeping America safe is key to a high quality of life,” said filmmakers Gregory Kallenberg and Loren Steffy on their newly-relaunched website. “In this episode, we explore what a physical barrier on the southern border does and doesn’t provide in the endeavor to complete that mission.”
"The idea that you can put up a wall to stop what people analogize to water…we talk about a flood of immigrants. So what do we build to stop a flood? We build a dam,” said Theresa Cardinal Brown, Director of Immigration and Cross Border Policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center.
In the film, called “The Wall,” Cardinal Brown argues that such language is “a rhetorical device that is simple for a lot of people to understand.” But it does not reflect reality. “The truth is that we are not being flooded with people," Cardinal Brown said.
In fact, the film highlights data showing illegal immigration is at an all-time low compared to its peak back in the years 1999 and 2000. At that time, roughly 1.6 million apprehensions were made along the border. In the last fiscal year, just a little more than 300,000 apprehensions were made, representing an 80 percent reduction.
David Bier, Immigration Policy Analyst at the Cato Institute, told the filmmakers that "The goal of policy should be to increase the cost of illegal entry and decrease the cost of legal entry.”
"We focus so much energy on increasing the cost of illegal entry and far less effort on decreasing the cost of legal entry,” Bier said, which is totally counterproductive. "If you make it easy for people to come into the United States legally and live here and work here that gives them no reason to (illegally) cross the border or otherwise attempt to evade immigration laws.”
"The key question is not the wall. The key question is whether the wall will actually solve the problem that Mr. Trump says it should solve,” said Tony Payan, the Director of the Mexico Center at the Baker Institute at Rice University in Houston.
What about the flow of illegal drugs coming in from Mexico?
Payan said "most drugs, 85 to 90 percent of them come through ports of entry…they're coming right under the noses of CBP (Customs and Border Patrol) agents and those drugs will continue to come in.”
So, what would make a difference?
Laura Reiff, Co-Chair of the Business Immigration Group at the law firm of Greenberg Traurig, said it is reasonable for Americans to demand a secure border. But she said a wall extending 1,200 miles from San Diego to El Paso isn’t needed to achieve that goal.
"It may mean parts of a wall or parts of a fence,” Reiff said. “It may mean better entry/exit technology. It may be better interior enforcement so we deal with truly violent criminals who shouldn't be on our streets," Reiff said.
Check out the entire video below and make sure to visit the Rational Middle website for more information.