David FitzGerald: There are a lot of unknowns about the intentions of the Trump administration and what Congress and the courts will allow. The biggest unknowns are what Trump will do about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for unauthorised immigrant who arrived in the United States at a young age; whether Congress will make a major appropriation for building more border fortifications; and whether the courts will allow the administration to punish sanctuary cities that limit cooperation between local police and federal immigration authorities by withholding federal grants.
But several developments are clear. The number of unauthorised entries from Mexico has been falling for years and has reached lows not seen since the 1970s. That tendency is likely to continue, at least in the short run, as potential migrants put off their plans until the situation becomes clarified.
Deportations reached an all-time high during President Obama’s first term, before declining during his second term. Under Trump, deportations are likely to reach new highs.
There are already 700 miles of physical barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border. I think it’s unlikely that a 2000-mile wall will be completed. It’s more likely that shorter sections of wall will be added. At least some stretches will look like a typical “wall” rather than the existing structures so that Trump can be photographed in front of a wall. The entire border will not be sealed.
If the U.S. attempts to make Mexico indirectly pay for the wall by increasing tariffs, it will hurt the US economy at least as much as it will hurt Mexico. There is a high level of “co-production”. Forty percent of the value of imports from Mexico was added in the United States. Mexico is the second largest U.S. market for exported goods.
Finally, while edicts from Washington are poisoning the overall binational relationship, local and states officials along the border will continue to act in a much more collaborative and pragmatic way.