The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Holding budget hostage for wall pure nonsense


September 6, 2017

Last week, President Trump raised the possibility of shutting down the federal government unless Congress agrees to fund his “big, beautiful border wall” along the 1,989-mile U.S.-Mexico border — a wall he still says Mexico will pay for, despite repeated denials by the Mexican government.

There’s little question border security is as important as it is non-existent. Border states like New Mexico that are dealing with drugs and crime know that better than anyone.

But New Mexico is also highly dependent on federal jobs, and our workforce also knows better than anyone that furloughs don’t pay the bills and government closures have far-reaching costs.

(The Office of Management and Budget says the two-week shutdown in 2013 racked up billions in compensation costs, billions in interest on payments owed to third parties the government was unable to pay, kept 120,000 private-sector jobs from being created, cost $500 million in lost visitor spending because of closed National Parks — and those are just the high points.)

Given the far more pressing challenges Congress will face when members return to Washington from the Labor Day weekend — including Trump’s promised rewrite of the federal tax code, raising the debt ceiling and reauthorizing programs for flood insurance and children’s health — shutting down the federal government over his border wall is sure to backfire on Trump and congressional Republicans.

Having conceded border wall funding to Democrats in the delayed fiscal 2017 budget negotiations last May, Trump is probably in no mood to compromise this time around — though he should for the good of the country.

With the House and Senate scheduled to be in session for only 12 concurrent days, and the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, holding the federal budget hostage over a wall of questionable value makes no sense.

Poll after poll has shown that, at best, about 35 percent of Americans support Trump’s wall.

Border Patrol apprehensions along the U.S. Mexico border have plummeted from a near-historic high of more than 1.6 million in 2000 to 415,816 in 2016.

The vast majority of illegal drugs flowing north from Mexico is moving through ports of entry, not on the backs of illegal border-crossers.

Roughly 700 miles of the border are already protected by physical barriers — including fences of wire mesh, chain link, post and rail, sheet piling, concrete barriers for vehicles and X-shaped steel beams for livestock.

Building an additional 1,000 miles of “border wall” is estimated to cost $40 billion.

It’s undeniable that the United States needs to do a better job of controlling its borders, and it’s been doing a better job by adding thousands of new Border Patrol agents, deploying far more electronic surveillance, and apprehending and deporting criminals who are here illegally.

And yes, improved physical barriers are needed in some spots along the nearly 2,000-mile border, as are additional electronic surveillance and boots on the ground.

But the real answer is not a wall — it’s comprehensive immigration reform that addresses not only future illegal entry and homeland security, but also deals fairly with the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants already here.

If President Trump can get Congress to work on things like immigration reform, it will be far less expensive, pay far higher public safety dividends and improve our nation’s needlessly testy relationship with Mexico far more than threats to shut down government.

— Albuquerque Journal


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