President-elect Joe Biden could save $2.6 billion if he keeps his pledge to end construction of the southern border wall, according to an Army Corps of Engineers estimate. But media reports glossed over, or simply ignored, the much bigger costs of such (in)action.
First, the purported savings would sacrifice security because a large share of the construction contracts include high-speed roads and advanced-technology components – all of which are widely accepted as useful in stopping illegal crossings.
Second, existing contacts would have to be paid in compliance with cancellation clauses. Hundreds of thousands of tons of steel would have to be stored or dumped, and ravines that had been dug in preparation for construction would have to be refilled. Those costs have not been calculated, but could run well into the tens of millions of dollars.
Potentially adding to the tab are pending lawsuits over use of Defense Department funds in wall construction. If they prevail in court, wall opponents say they will demand demolition of any sections built with Pentagon money. “Biden could then face the choice of having to defend the Trump construction, or tearing down hundreds of miles of barriers,” the Washington Times reported.
And how about the cost of not completing the wall? Failing to fortify the southern border will mean more illegal aliens entering this country unimpeded. Stopping them will result in savings far greater than $2.6 billion. In 2017, FAIR estimated that illegal immigration costs taxpayers $135 billion annually, an expense that grows every year. The wall is a one-time cost.
Beyond the dollars, what does America gain from a less-secure southern border? Biden, who campaigned on the slogan “Build Back Better,” needs to explain his thinking on this.