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The battle over The Wall: It’s a property rights dispute


This week President Trump made his case that a border wall is important to preserve our sovereignty and to protect our resources, our jobs and our nation’s security.

His opposition thinks a Wall is nativist and divisive and discriminates against minorities. They see the Wall as a device to preserve white privilege.

They say a border wall is the wrong message for Americans to send to the world. That we should help refugees and the poor to improve their lot in life by embracing their efforts to move to America. That providing hope and opportunity is the very essence of our American values. 

I would argue that debating the benefits or liabilities of reinforced borders is missing the whole point. I believe the border issue is a property rights dispute.

That’s right, property rights. 

We should all agree that in America, we venerate the idea that owning property is sacrosanct. And that by definition, property has property lines. Your property rights end where mine begin. In America we have laws against trespassing, burglary and home invasion. Some states have “Stand Your Ground” laws that support property owners who defend themselves from uninvited invaders.

Why shouldn’t a country be afforded the same considerations? Why should there be any difference in the definition of property just because it is a “border line” versus a residence or business “property line”?

The Constitution states: “the United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against invasion (See Article IV, Section 4).” 

If open border proponents win, they will delegitimize the constitution, and inch closer to further undermining the basis of our union. They will argue that illegal immigration is not an invasion but an important and valuable addition to our culture.

Does anyone really think that 12 million people entering our country without permission is not the definition of an invasion? If one person enters your home without your permission, would you call it an invasion? No? What about 100 people? Just where would you draw the line on the use of the term invasion?

What would you think if the government suddenly eliminated the idea of property lines and asserted that your home had no border definition and therefore you must remove your front door and allow anyone to come into your home to spend the night or take up residence with you? 

Come on, you know you would go to war before you would ever allow that to happen.

It is obviously hypocritical to suggest your personal property border is any different than those of our homeland. Your front door, your fence, your security system is no less effective than vetting migrants who are coming from countries and cultures dissimilar to ours. 

The underlying motivations of illegal immigrants is fleeing poverty, chaos and corruption. Conditions in their home countries make their lives difficult and sometimes hopeless. The fact is they are escaping mostly socialist, corrupt Mafia-style governments that have led their nations down a path of despair. Most refugees simply do not live by the same cultural systems and values that we do. If they did, they wouldn’t be desperate to leave home.

If they successfully avoid detection, they are just trespassers. But once illegal immigrants start accepting welfare assistance, they are burglars. They are uninvited guests who are helping themselves to property that does not belong to them.

The first thing they must demonstrate before they can properly assimilate, is a healthy respect for American law. Which means they must get in line and conform to our immigration process, as flawed as it may be. Otherwise, they are incompatible with our society.

The real battle over Trump’s Wall is over our political culture. Like so many other cultural battles in our country, Americans have fundamental disagreements over how we manage our business. On the Right is a reverence for capitalism and respect for the constitution. On the Left is a yearning for a collectivist society, where the state provides for the citizenry by a compulsory system of sharing. 

The battle over the Wall is symbolic. It illustrates the cultural divide over the collectivist concept of a Progressive global government and those of good old-fashioned capitalist Americanism. It is a property rights issue, and has absolutely nothing to do with migration, refugees, or xenophobia. Those are straw man polemic devices designed to obfuscate the issue of national sovereignty and secure borders that protect our constitutional notions of private property ownership.

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 Rick Elkin is a long-time Escondido resident and media and cultural observer. You can follow him at


*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

4 responses to “The battle over The Wall: It’s a property rights dispute”

  1. C.L. Aristei says:

    But there is also, in any country, a shared property aspect. I live in the United States, which we all own, even if we just rent our homes. It’s a huge place and full of variety.
    And the legality of entering, in the big picture, is irrelevant. Just Red Tape. Someone comes here, they are part of us, adding whatever they do for better or worse, just like adding a new family member.
    We have plenty to share, as my grandmother used to say, so how hard would it be, really, to adopt her attitude? It only takes one second to change.

  2. Rebecca Randolph says:

    Being against a border wall is not the same as being against a border. You can respect borders and property rights without having a wall. Many neighbors have property lines that are understood and respected without building a towering wall to emphasize the dividing line.

  3. Kevin Smith says:

    Interesting that the author chose property rights as a way to frame the argument, given that the wall could only be built by having the Federal government take landowners’ personal property.

  4. The reason our preexisting States made a compact to create a federal government was for external items: predominantly self defense. Limited “enumerated” powers were given the federal. Everything else was reserved to the states or to the people by the 10th amendment.

    The only written duty of the federal government was to provide a republican form of government and to protect each of the states from invasion.

    The legislature has the duty to make laws and to fund the federal government. The legislature is refusing to fund this law: a Supreme Law because it is part of the Constitution.

    The executive is charged with enforcing the law. In this case Article IV Section 4; “shall protect each of them from invasion”.

    The legislature is violating Supreme Law. The executive does not understand that it is his duty to “faithfully….defend the Constitution” and not to make the decision to build a wall.

    Congress is violating Supreme Law and should not be allowed to make any additional laws while they are in violation of the Constitution.

    Trump is right to keep the federal government closed and, while it is closed, to protect State’s borders from invasion with the means that were understood at the time of the founding of the united States.

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