Here's a 'debate' in today's LATimes on the question: A wall along the border--security necessity or political gimmick?
In A Nieman Marcus on the border, Mark Krikorian argues that while the wall is indeed a political gimmick, it's needed--and he prefers a strategy to turn off the magnet of jobs. Krikorian is the Center for Immigration Studies, an immigration restriction lobby.
Tamar Jacoby, an immigration expert at the Manhattan Institute, argues in Stop chasing that busboy that a wall is the preferred gimmick of lazy politicians. She believes that only a policy focused on the workplace and which ensures that any available job not filled by an American is gets filled by a legal immigrant solves the problem.
What's irrational about Krikorian's position is that he's arguing for a less robust American economy. Not only is he willing to spend billions on militarizing the border but he also wants to somehow chill the demand for workers. That seems to me to be against American values and would lead to a certain economic disaster.
Jacoby's take is that political gimmicks will do nothing to address a real and growing employer challenge: the need to fill jobs high-end and low-end jobs in order to keep their businesses competitive in the global marketplace.
While there are other arguments in addition to simple economic self-interest for changing our convoluted and contradictory immigration laws, including serving humanitarian objectives, fostering relations between neighbors, etc., Jacoby makes a case that many Americans can support.