Walls around Houses Differ from Walls around Countries
By David Henderson
My wife and I were at a dinner party on Saturday at which one of the guests, who favors President Trump’s proposal for a wall, claimed that if you object to a wall, you have no right to object to someone coming on your property without your permission.
I said that one doesn’t follow from the other: a wall keeps people from coming into the country without the government’s permission whereas a wall around your property prevents people from coming on to your property without your permission.
He didn’t seem to grasp my point.
So I asked him if he thought the government should be able to stop someone from moving from Illinois to California. And if he doesn’t object, does that mean they should be able to go on his property without his permission? He said he didn’t object to their coming here because they’re presumably legal residents. He didn’t answer the other part but presumably he thinks Illinoisans shouldn’t be able to come on his property without his permission.
But notice what that means: he understands fully well the difference between a wall that keeps people out of a country (or a state) and a wall that keeps them off one’s property.
That doesn’t mean he’s wrong about the illegal issue. I think he is, but that’s a longer discussion. You can think it’s a good idea to restrict immigration. You can even think it’s a good idea to build a wall.
My point is more modest: there is an important difference between a wall around a country and a wall around one’s property.