Why aren’t U.S. billionaires trying to influence Mexico regarding migration throughput?

There are billionaires on both sides of the U.S. debate regarding whether we should welcome more low-skill migrants (this analysis by a Harvard professor says that an economically rational billionaire will choose more low-skill migrants). American billionaires are so rich that the kind of money Donald Trump was hoping to get from Congress for an effective border wall (about $11 billion) is within private reach.

Given how important the question of immigration is to the United States, I’m wondering why the billionaires arrayed on both sides aren’t in Mexico City offering to pay the Mexicans to adjust the flow. Democrat billionaires who’ve publicly advocated for more low-skill migrants could, for example, pay the Mexicans to assist caravans of those passing through from the south reach the Rio Grande. Republican billionaires could then step in and offer to pay to get the tide reversed or even pay Mexicans to Build the Wall!


  • “Democrats Decried Dark Money. Then They Won With It in 2020.” (nytimes, January 2022), suggesting that the Democrats would win because they have more money to spend
  • “Governor Ducey Announces Border Wall Gaps Near Yuma Are Now Filled” (https://azgovernor.gov/): … 3,820 feet of previously open border near Yuma, Arizona is now closed with a barrier of double-stacked and secured shipping containers. … In just 11 days, Arizona did the job the federal government has failed to do — and we showed them just how quickly and efficiently the border can be made more secure – if you want to.” (i.e., the federal government need not be the only wall-builder, even on the U.S. side of the border)
  • “Containers are no hindrance for migrants on Arizona border” (ABC, a few days later): Hours before Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey declared “a major step forward to secure our border” with the installation of 130 double-stacked shipping containers, hundreds of migrants found their way around them, belying his claim. They walked through tribal lands to the edge of a towering wall built during Donald Trump’s presidency to surrender to border agents waiting outside the reservation, expecting to be released in the U.S. to pursue asylum. Families, young parents carrying toddlers, elderly people and others easily waded through the knee-deep Colorado River before dawn Wednesday, many in sandals with shopping bags slung over their shoulders. Migrants continue to avoid barriers by going around them — in this case, through a 5-mile (8-kilometer) gap in the Cocopah Indian Reservation near Yuma, a desert city of about 100,000 people between San Diego and Phoenix that has become a major spot for illegal crossings. President Joe Biden halted wall construction his first day in office, leaving billions of dollars of work unfinished but still under contract.
  • “How Much of Trump’s Border Wall Was Built?” (US News)

9 thoughts on “Why aren’t U.S. billionaires trying to influence Mexico regarding migration throughput?

  1. That would be epic to watch! They could deplane from their Gulfstreams and duke it out right there on the tarmac! BMMA (Billionaire Mixed Martial Arts) on Pay Per View! Kind of like the airport scene from “A Fish Called Wanda!”


    From the photo, it looks as though a significant part of Trump’s wall was actually constructed. I was surprised by that picture – if you listened to the “news” as I did, you would be under the impression that almost nothing was done.

  2. Regardless of your opinion on illegal immigration, I cannot see how any border wall would be cost effective. Any able-bodied person who wants to get through an unmanned wall could certainly do so, either over, under, or through.

    The Berlin wall and prison walls work because they had people with guns watching over them, 24X7. If the guards walk, the walls would be completely useless in short order.

    • Why not employ some MIT and CalTech mechanical engineers and materials scientists to work designing one that’s really tough to subvert – and “smart” enough to know when someone is attempting to do so, while it reports that at the speed of light to the Border Patrol?

      In everything I’ve read so far about these different types of barriers, I haven’t seen anyone talk about “smart” IoT features, which could be powered by solar cells and batteries implanted either in or nearby the walls.

      I know nothing is perfect and traffickers are very determined, but fences and other barriers and security systems work pretty well in the real world if they’re designed and installed correctly. I think we’re maybe not bringing the best and brightest minds to bear on the problem. How about the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins?

    • It seems to me that with the right sensors and AI-assisted algorithms, the entire wall could be electronically monitored and the system would “learn” the most likely failure modes and so forth over a relatively short span of time.

      Google has a feature now wherein its computers will scan photographs and identify text, and automatically translate it. I’ve tried it on some photos of Japanese and Korean high-end steak house menus to learn the courses and the prices and it works with unbelivable accuracy.

      It seems to me that we’re putting rather “dumb” barriers into the ground and the surrounding terrain and we’re just not very interested in doing the job with more advanced technology. Where’s the MIT Technology Review when you need them?

    • With my great land mine idea those “able bodies” will not be so able after they cross the border.

  3. Wouldn’t all billionaires value 10 minutes saved in traffic vs a dollar off their coffee. As a millionaire what do you value?

    • I.B.: That’s a great question! A real answer would require a lot of thought, but let’s go with top-of-head stuff that relates to this post. First, I value seeing people who work hard be well-compensated for their work, in terms of a comfortable lifestyle. Low-skill immigration interferes with this because it reduces wages for the working class and raises the rents they must pay. Second, I value freedom, which is inconsistent with a high-density low-trust society that you get by assembling a population of asylum-seekers (people who hate where they used to live and have no reason to love American culture or Americans). Even in a high-trust society such as China, the individual freedoms that we enjoy are in shorter supply there due to their high density. Americans can own guns, fly their own airplanes without filing flight plans, walk down the street without a mask on (in Florida if not in Massachusetts), etc. Finally, I do like being able to drive without being stuck in traffic, being able to visit a National Park without making a reservation a year in advance, etc. So if I had $11 billion to spare I might consider giving it to Mexico for a combination of physical and virtual walls.

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