Humpty Dumpty wants a wall, may have great fall

Posted by Tom Camfield

"I want it to be so beautiful because maybe someday they'll call it the Trump Wall.”—Donald Trump, Aug. 2016

Obviously, the fence shown above is not the deterrent Donald Trump has in mind for the Mexican border. It appears to be part of an existing barrier of only about 20 feet or so in height.

I hunted off and on for days trying to find some official figures available on line for citizens wanting to know just how many miles of just what size wall is envisioned by Trump—and such things as what the estimated cost per mile would be. Knowing him as we all do, whatever budget amounts he keeps insisting on likely as not are pretty meaningless. He’s not above selling us a pig in a poke. How many  “cost over-runs” might crop up if construction actually is begun?

After quite a few hours or searching I finally found on line a site based on some actual figures, dated Jan. 2018: https://www.wola.org/analysis/23-amazing-things-can-cost-miles-border-wall/

“Nearly a year into the Trump presidency, the White House has finally added some hard numbers to its border wall proposal. A document titled “Critical CBP Requirements to Improve Border Security,” distributed last week to Senate offices negotiating the 2018 federal budget, calls for building new or replacement wall over 722 miles of the 1,970-mile U.S.-Mexico border. About 316 miles of that would cover currently unfenced areas. The price tag for these 722 miles is jaw-dropping: $18 billion over 10 years. That divides out to $25 million for every mile of wall. This is four times what fencing cost ten years ago. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the more than 270 miles of sturdy pedestrian border fencing built after passage of the 2006 Secure Fence Act cost $6.5 million per mile.*

So apparently the wall in the illustration above is part of hundreds of miles of existing “fencing” that would be replaced in an overall 722-mile project (a distance equivalent of from Seattle to San Francisco and driving on for another 38 miles). 

The site, WOLA (Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas) proposes adopting the “Border-Wall Mile” as a new unit of financial measure. At the proposed exchange rate of from $25 million per Border-Wall Mile, some examples of what other items would cost:

—Assuming $20,000 each, it would cost about 32 Border-Wall Miles to house every one of the United States’ 40,000 homeless veterans for a year.

—For every Border-Wall Mile, 16,361 kids can be covered by the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). 10 Border-Wall Miles are enough to fund CHIP for a year in Colorado, Oklahoma, Michigan, or Kentucky.

—For budget reasons, the U.S. Navy hasn’t patrolled the Caribbean, or Central America’s Pacific coast, for suspect cocaine shipments since 2015. The Coast Guard has been doing this on its own, with six to ten cutters, that are only able to interdict about thirty percent of known suspected smugglers. It would cost the Navy 17 Border-Wall Miles to deploy a refitted Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate for ten years, as the Navy Secretary has recommended.

—All U.S. aid to Mexico in 2017, whether for justice, the military, anti-drug efforts, or violence prevention, totals about 5.5 Border-Wall Miles.

The entire list includes 23 examples of border-wall-mile money use, concluding with: If you’ve been diligent with your money and have achieved a net worth of $1 million—something that less than 10 percent of Americans have managed—congratulations. You can now afford 70 yards of border wall—30 yards short of what you’d need to stretch between a football field’s end zones.”

Meanwhile, back to the Central American refugees who are knocking at our door seeking to escape death for themselves and their children. Can we look them in the eye and tell them that it’s not our problem? As they’re concerned for their lives and defenseless, maybe we could just take some money out of the border-wall fund, buy them all assault-style rifles and send them back home. That would kill several birds with one stone—satisfying the firearms industry, the NRA and Donald Trump’s cadre of white supremacists. Many unwanted would-be refugee immigrants also would be permanently disposed of as we washed our hands of the problem.

LOOKING BACK—For Donald’s proposed height (not included in the above account) for his wall, see: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/02/26/so-how-high-will-donald-trumps-wall-be-an-investigation/?utm_term=.91172269964e  His references ranged from 30 feet to 55 feet between Aug. 2016 and Feb. 2017. 

OTHER NOTES—“All of these people pouring across are gonna vote Democrat,” Trump claimed, even though studies have shown few undocumented people vote for anyone, Democrats or otherwise, except in the few places where their votes are specifically allowed. “They do it for a lot of reasons,” Trump said. —Michigan pep rally 4/29

The Washington Post, April 4, 2018 (re: the caravan then en route from Central America): “U. S. Border authorities reported a 26% decline in the number of people detained or stopped at the U. S. southern border in 2017 compared with the previous year. While the number of border crossers is down compared with past years, the hunger to reach the United States . . . is as acute as ever for many Central Americans. They face increasing danger in gang-controlled neighborhoods; they search fruitlessly for low-paying jobs; they yearn to be with relatives who have been living for decades in the U. S. and they want better lives for their children.” 

Actually, southern border arrests have declined steadily since the 1,643,679 total in 2000. By late in the Obama Administration (2011), they were down to a mere 327,577. For 2017 they totaled 303,916.

IN DONALD’S MIND, I believe, his cutesy slogan about “draining the swamp” has less to do with eliminating progressive politics in Washington, D. C., than with the idea of demographic peril he continues to plant in the minds of his white-nationalist supporters and others. Illustrated by his June 2015 charge that Mexican border crossers were “bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” His true nature in this regard continues with such actions as this one reported May 5: “The Trump administration says it will strip legal protections for 86,000 Hondurans who live in the United States, the latest group of longtime undocumented residents who now face the prospect of deportation back to their troubled home countries.”

These Hondurans have been living here peacefully for 19 years—since Jan. 1999 (Clinton administration), two months after Hurricane Mitch swept through their country, killing 7,000 and leaving 1.4 million others homeless. “Past administrations repeatedly extended the program for countries like Honduras that continue to struggle with extreme violence and chronic political instability.” The most recent extension was during the Obama administration in 2016, when the U. S. said Honduras was still suffering lingering effects from Hurricane Mitch and other disasters. An estimated 53,000 children have been born to these Hondurans during their temporary stay in the U.S.

The Trump administration also has ended protections for people from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan and Nepal. In all it has ordered 300,000 people from those countries to return to their homelands by mid-2020 (same as for Honduras), about four months before the next presidential election. 

Honduras has one of the highest homicide rates in the world, high rates of violence against women and widespread corruption, topped by a recent fraudulent presidential election. 

So good luck to those shown cheering under the Honduran flag at the top of this blog. And all the other black and brown people represented in foregoing paragraphs. And this can’t bode well for the DACA program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), involving 800,000 or more individuals originally brought here as children by illegal immigrants via Mexico. The Trump administration on Sept. 5, 2017 announced an end to the DACA program (begun in 2012 during the Obama administration and renewed on a 2-year basis) which allowed those affected to avoid deportation and obtain work. Things have stalled along since then as Donald holds this particular program hostage in seeking funding for the wall discussed in earlier paragraphs here. There have been no added  “Dreamer” enrollees in recent years not because of any Trump edict, but because of the original limitations of the program.

I always like to quote a bit from one of my favorite syndicated columnists, Leonard Pitts Jr. of the Miami Herald: “This is a big country, big enough for many different kinds of people, many different ways of life. We know what it means to live and let live. And we know that welcoming the stranger, caring for the stranger, is simply what you do as a human being.”

Also a few words from terminally-ill Republican Senator John McCain: “The great majority of unauthorized immigrants came here to work and raise their families, like most immigrants have throughout our history. They are not the rapists, killers and drug dealers of fevered imaginations on the right . . . they’re decent people working hard to make better lives.”

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