The past week in U.S. border security
- CNN got some details about the initial $999 million that the Trump administration’s Homeland Security Department is requesting from Congress to begin work on a border wall during the 2017 fiscal year, which ends September 30. That amount would pay for “14 miles of new border wall in San Diego, 28 miles of new levee wall barriers and six miles of new border wall in the Rio Grande Valley region and 14 miles of replacement fencing in San Diego.”
- Congress seems unlikely to say “yes” to any wall-building money for 2017, though. Congress never passed a 2017 budget last year, and the government is operating near 2016 levels until April 28. By that date, Congress must pass a budget for the remainder of fiscal 2017, or the government will shut down. Democrats are threatening to force a shutdown over the Trump administration’s request for wall-building money, while leading Republicans want more details about the overall plan. So the big legislative debate over wall-building money may be put off for the 2018 budget, which committees will start considering in a few months.
- This all means that there’s a general retreat away from President Trump’s oft-repeated promise that Mexico will “pay for” wall construction. CNN looks at three ways Mexico might be indirectly induced to pay the cost after the fact, but none of them look feasible or desirable.
- Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, put out a press release Tuesday estimating that the cost of building a border wall could reach $66.9 billion. The Senator’s estimate is extrapolated from information her staff gleaned from a briefing with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials. On Wednesday, CBP released a brief statement warning that “any estimates of the total border wall cost are premature as there are many variables that are currently unknown.”
- Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke may have suggested building a border wall on Mexico’s side of the Rio Grande rather than “cede the river to Mexico”, but he was probably just trying to discuss how difficult it is to build any fences or walls at all along the winding, flood-prone river.
- “More than 200” or “roughly 850” companies have expressed interest in the Trump administration’s requests for proposals on border wall designs. Amid confusion about some of the requests’ language, the application deadline has been extended, but CPB expects to build 10-by–10-foot prototypes in San Diego in June or July.
- The New York Times and the Associated Press took separate looks at the Border Patrol’s union and “The Green Line,” its Hannity-esque podcast.
- Two Arizona Republicans, Sen. John McCain and Rep. Martha McSally (chair of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security) introduced legislation to increase penalties for “cartel spotters,” which they define as individuals who engage in “transmitting information about the position or surveillance efforts of Border Patrol or destroying United States border controls.”
- I’m enjoying “Tales from the Border,” a series of dispatches from the Associated Press’s Christopher Sherman and Rodrigo Abd, who are driving the entire border from Brownsville west.