Should Washington spend $22 billion to fortify the border with Mexico? If the undertaking is defined as a public-works project, the outlay may have merit. But if the goal is to stop Mexican immigrants, the effort may be pointless. The case for the wall is built on a low-skilled labor surge that happened in the 1980s and 1990s because of high economic volatility south of the border. But those immigrant flows are tapering off; they may reach zero by 2050, based on research completed at the University of California San Diego. The far bigger issue for US policymakers is the cost to public safety-net programs as now-resident immigrants advance in age. NAFTA was designed in part to keep Mexicans in Mexico. That goal—albeit awkward for some to admit—is being achieved. For investors, the message is that the Mexican economy is greater than whimsical US policies. The rally in the peso since mid-January points to widespread confidence in the opportunity. ■
Our Vantage Point: The Trump administration wants to deliver on a poorly-formed campaign promise. Yet, even without the wall, research shows that immigration from Mexico will continue to decline, if not evaporate entirely.
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Image: Strength in the Mexican peso rebuts shifting US policies. Credit: Fotopoly at Can Stock Photo Inc.