Richard Bellah

Richard Bellah

More About: Immigration

Op-Ed: Mexico Paying for the Border Wall is Both Workable and Beneficial for Both Sides

We don't need to keep debating why to build a border wall. The increase in security, decrease in human and drug trafficking crimes, and cutbacks to the nearly $135 billion we spend in immigration are all positive outcomes we can't ignore. But instead of shutting down the government to get another $6 billion in federal funding, let's get it built quicker and cheaper with Mexico paying $5 billion toward the cost.  

How can we make that happen? And why would Mexico agree? Simple: instead of building on U.S. land, lease Mexican land and build on their side of the border with their help. This would avoid litigation costs for eminent domain and environmental lawsuits, which, as an attorney and former member of local government, I know could tie up the project in American courts for several years. Not only does this save money, but also time — crucial in a period of crisis.

By leasing a section of Mexican land for the wall, the U.S. dispenses with the cost of lawsuits and eminent domain, while Mexico receives economic benefits and security. The U.S. paying fair market value for the land lease provides revenue for Mexico that they aren't currently receiving for that land.

The lease could be, for argument's sake, a $40 million per year agreement, lasting for 50 years, rotating renewable annually. However, to fulfill the President's campaign promise, starting the first year, Mexico would deduct an annual amount — perhaps $20 million — from the lease to qualify as a payment toward its $5 billion portion for the wall. We get our wall, Mexico pays its part, they make money, and we save money.

In addition to profits from the lease, the U.S. could agree that 50% of the necessary building labor would be Mexican citizens, paid by the U.S. at the same rate we would pay American workers.

Moreover, Mexico would benefit as much as the U.S. from stronger border security. A border wall would disincentivize Central and South American immigrants from entering the U.S. illegally, decreasing the number of people traveling through Mexico and remaining on the border.   

By leasing Mexican land for a border wall, sharing the labor, deducting from the lease for Mexico's portion of the cost, and avoiding American legal entanglements, this plan would give us our border wall faster, cheaper, and more diplomatically. Let's work together with our southern neighbor to resolve this standoff to the mutual benefit of both sides.

Richard Bellah

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