Are We Making Progress on the Border Barrier?

K.C. Alfred/San Diego Union-Tribune via ZUMA

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The Washington Post claims that congressional negotiators are nearing a compromise deal on the wall:

Two people familiar with the talks said the understanding among Republicans is that the deal would offer around $2 billion for border barriers. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private deliberations.

Democrats disputed that figure. “Negotiations are ongoing and both sides are exchanging offers. Throughout the talks, Democrats have insisted that a border security compromise not be overly reliant on physical barriers. We will not agree to $2 billion in funding for barriers,” said Evan Hollander, a spokesman for House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.).

Hmmm. The Democratic position seems to have changed from “not one penny for a wall” to “no overreliance on physical barriers.” Progress!

The rough consensus seems to be that a wall barrier on the southern border costs about $20 million per mile, so $2 billion would buy us another 100 miles or so. That would be 1/13th of the 1,300 miles that are currently unfenced, or about 8 percent. That seems like it might count as “not overly reliant.” Or, looked at another way, if the compromise included a large total sum of money—say $10 billion or so—then the barrier money would account for only 20 percent of the total. That might also count as “not overly reliant.”

Of course, it also sounds like we might have to come up with a new name for “barrier.” How about “material instantiation of multi-component international border restriction,” or MIMCIBR? It kind of rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?

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