Border control vs. the interstate highway system

Posted On: Wednesday - March 22nd 2017 8:06PM MST
In Topics: 
  Immigration Stupidity  Economics

VDare's contributor "Federale" is a guy who has had extensive experience in the world of immigration control - he was some type of law enforcement officer in the old Immigration and Naturalization Service. He comes across as a lawyer sometimes, as he knows much about the whole system of supposed border protection and the abuse thereof (sounds much smarter than the average cop, in other words). In his blogpost on VDare, entitled NRO’s Heather Wilhelm Goes All Kevin Williamson On The Border Wall On Behalf Of Illegal Aliens, Federale brings up another pundit/writer who, either ignorantly or purposefully deceitfully, makes a wall or serious border barrier into some kind of impossible pie-in-the-sky effort.

We are talking about 2,000 miles of a serious barrier that does not have to be completely impenetrable (remember, "build a 20 ft. wall, they'll bring a 21 ft. ladder" - yeah, Lowes sells those ladders, but only on the north side, so ?). All you need is some manned posts every few miles so the border control can meet up with any crossers and arrest them to discourage all the others. It's not like video cameras cost a pretty penny as if this were the 1970's. You can also take off of this 2,000 miles any lengths of border that are pretty impenetrable due to terrain, as written about in Federale's article re Big Bend National Park. Just fly a few drones up and down the line.

No, we've not been sending our best civil engineers:

People who bring up these objections to "The Wall" in terms of feasibility piss me off almost as much as the ones who just admit they want open borders to help replace the American people. The former people are either at the leading edge of innumerate stupidity or they are liars. Either of these 2 options entail the assumption on the proponents' part that the average American listening to them is innumerate, knows not much American history, and has a short memory. Is there no one left who remembers or has heard about the building of the 50,000 mile Interstate Highway System?

Yes, this was back when we were a can-do nation, but on the other hand, surveying methods and construction methods have only improved since 1956 when the building of the interstates started. It did take a while, but a mile of 4-lane, limited-access highway is one hell of a bigger deal to build than a mile of double concertina-wire-topped fencing with cameras and a no-man's land in between and a guard post every 5 or even 1 mile. The highway right-of way has first to be cleared, then graded and contoured for good drainage. Then base material must be put down, the 75-ft. wide or so asphalt laid down, and markings, signage, and extras like guardrails made/installed. Oh, don't forget clover-leaf or diamond exits, 4-lanes of bridge for every creek and crossing road (without access).

The cost of the interstate system that Wikipedia contributors estimate is $10,000,000 per mile, but keep in mind that that covers all of the city loops and spurs that require expensive land purchases compared to a straight shot across the plains of eastern Colorado. It's probably much less than 10 million bucks per mile, maybe 1/2 that for the lengthy real cross-country road.

How much would a good barrier cost per mile? 1 million bucks? I doubt really that much if it weren't for the US government bidding it, as they have no reason to save money.
Say 1 million and the overestimate of the whole < 2,000 miles. That's 2 billion bucks which is, averaged out, about 1 1/2 HOURS of Feral Gov't spending (assuming they can only spend during business hours 8/day)!

Federale's post includes his take on real estate costs for this border barrier, as opposed to say, the newest section of freeway through Los Angeles:
The private property on the Texas side of the Rio Grand is for the most part worthless. Most is covered in dense cottonwood trees, other scrub trees, and bushes. Houses built there are mostly abandoned and used now for drug and illegal alien drops. I doubt that Wilhelm has ever been to Rio Grand border in the areas such as Laredo, El Paso, McAllen, and other small towns. But she does not have to. She can just view the many seasons of Border Wars broadcast on the National Geographic Channel. There she can see that the property on the border is essentially worthless. Consequently, property values are low.

All the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) lawyers have to do is review property tax records that will show the the minor cost of just compensation required by the Constitution. Most property owners will be happy to sell to the Federal government as illegal alien and drug smuggling have made the Rio Grand area unlivable and property valueless.
Good points here - I would bet a lot of ranchers would ante up some money, not even ask for any, to stop the serious threats to life and property from this invasion.

Oh yeah, what about the manpower? The "wall" will require some maintenance. Sure, but much less than a highway does. We all know, frustratingly, that the interstates must be repaved regularly, right-of-way must be mowed, trash out of illegal Mexicans' car windows must be gathered too. Say you even need a guard post every 1 mile, which is really too conservative with the use of cameras and drones. You've got a couple of guys with a vehicle in each? Say $500,000 each for 24-hour manpower with overhead and including equipment - that's 1 billion bucks per year, which is only 45 MINUTES out of a year of Feral Government's spending! It's chump change, and if it bothers you, we can offset it by cutting out NPR and some public TV channels that no-one ever watches. (OK, OK, NPR can be very soothing, so long as you don't listen to the actual words. I may have a crush on that Nina Totenburg, but the Nina Totenburg of 1991, probably not the Nina of 2017, as lefties don't age well.)

Don't try to BS a numbers guy. You just make yourself out to be deceitful or stupid, or both. Be honest and say you hate Americans and want to ruin their country and replace them. Nobody likes a liar, though we're not fond of traitors either.

Thursday - March 23rd 2017 7:59AM MST
Thanks for the kind remark in your 1st comment. I have not gotten a reply to an email I wrote to "the Derb" when I started this blog. I would appreciate it if you link to this, but I didn't think you do too much commenting.

(Running out of time today - still got the water leak)
Thursday - March 23rd 2017 7:57AM MST
I'll answer your 2nd comment first, Boris. I have never heard of any Federal property other than check points, along the border, but other than Tijuana, where the border customs/immigration area IS Federal, of course, I haven't been. Up at the Canadian border, everywhere except the big-highway control points, it's just an American guy's land up against a Canadian guy's land.

Oh, don't forget the Big Bend Park and all, that is Federal, and there may be another, but most of the desolate land wouldn't make much of a park either.

BTW, if you go back a decade or two the US/Canada border control sometimes consisted of an orange cone on the centerline of the 2-lane highway. Stop, move the cone behind the car, and keep on truckin'!
Thursday - March 23rd 2017 3:47AM MST
Oh yeah, I'm confused by something. For some reason I would have assumed that the border was government property for some reason, like 100 yards inland of the line or something.

You say that is not the case? That citizens own private property up to the border?
Thursday - March 23rd 2017 3:46AM MST
Great post.

I know you don't like to do it, but this one really ought to be read more widely. It's a point I don't think has been addressed by too many bloggers. As a rule they aren't exactly what you would call numerate for some reason.

So if you actually did mention this post, and link it on a comment on another site I think it would be a public service.

Actually I have no idea what it takes to be a guest poster on Zero hedge. You might send an email to them (though I wouldn't be surprised if they coopted this - but does that bother you?).

Another idea is to send it to Derbyshire (best) or Instapundit (worse - he probably gets so many emails I doubt he reads them, even though he probably would be amenable to publishing this).

Wouldn't surprise me at all if Derbyshire put it up or pitched it on his RadioDerb show.
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