January, 2021

The Political Economy of the Virtual Wall

  • Christopher Coyne

    Associate Director, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
  • Nathan Goodman

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Besides using physical walls to attempt to restrict government across the U.S.-Mexico border, the United States government has also spent billions of dollars on the construction of "virtual walls." A virtual wall, sometimes called a "virtual fence" or a "smart wall," uses advanced surveillance technologies to detect and deter unauthorized border crossings.  The following explores the political economy of virtual walls with focus on two negative consequences—the entanglement of private defense firms with government through crony relationships and the violation of the liberties of both non-U.S. and U.S. persons.