Past Features

March 20, 2017

May the scariest wall win

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Washington Times
President Trump wants border wall to be tall, imposing
   President Trump's is eyeing a 30-foot border wall, and wants it to be particularly imposing to would-be illegal immigrants pondering an attempt to sneak into the U.S. from Mexico, Homeland Security officials said in contract documents released Friday as the administration officially solicited bids to build the barrier.
    Still to be decided is whether the wall will be concrete or some other design. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) solicited prototypes for both.
    But officials wanted to make sure it's big and scary.
    “The wall design shall be physically imposing in height,” CBP officials said in contracting documents.
    They said it must be a minimum of 18 feet, and their “nominal” goal is actually a wall that looms some 30 feet above the ground. The wall must also run at least six feet underground to stop anyone easily tunneling underneath it.

Glenn Spencer -- March 20   
How much is "big and scary" worth? 
    How will DHS/CBP pick among the competing contractors? If contractor A submits a proposal to build a 30-foot concrete wall at a cost of $10 million per mile, while contractor B proposes an 18-foot see-through fence at $3 million per mile, which one should be selected?
    Let's assume that contractor A's wall would stop 95 percent of border crosssers, while contractor B's fence would stop 93 percent of border crossers - is the additional $7 million per mile worth a two-percent difference? How much is see-through worth? And, do they really believe a six-foot foundation would stop tunneling, when some have been up to 90-feet deep?
    And where to put the wall? Take a given ten-mile section of the border where, on average, ten people cross illegally each month. Should the government spend $100 million for a 30-foot concrete wall to stop ten people? $30 million?
    Last year about 400,000 people got past the U.S. Border Patrol and entered our country illegally. After the Trump wall is built, will that number be zero? How many will get past? If it cost $500 million to stop the last 10 people, would that be worth it?
    I don't envy the staff at DHS/CBP when they try to decided how much "big and scary" is worth to the taxpayer.