By editorial board • 

Think health care is complicated? What about border wall-building?

The nonsense flowing from D.C. these days never seems to end.

One of the latest has the Trump administration cutting Coast Guard and Federal Emergency Management Agency funding 11 percent to help pay for its Mexican border wall misadventure. Yes, the wall Trump vowed the Mexican government would fund, not that any thinking American ever believed him.

The administration is projecting the cost at $15 billion, which works out to $120 for every household. But analysts predict the cost will run multiple times that.

The border stretches 1,950 miles. Some 653 historically high-traffic miles, where the cost-benefit ratio is most advantageous, have already been fenced for $7 billion.
However, half the fencing is designed to deter vehicles, not people. And neither kind begins to match the towering wall Trump envisions.

In recent years, more Mexican immigrants have actually been leaving than arriving, counting both legal and illegal flow. That still leaves an estimated 11.5 million here illegally, but 5 million simply overstayed legal visas. That suggests illegal border crossing is being given urgency and primacy it doesn’t deserve.

Trump’s wall would have to traverse the Falcon International Reservoir, impounded by a border-straddling dam. The 118-mile-long Big Bend National Park, featuring peaks of almost 8,000 feet. The ever-shifting Algodones Dunes, America’s largest dune ecosystem. A series of 9,000-foot peaks in the Coronado National Forest. Some 1,240 miles of the treaty-protected Rio Grande, which features expanses of flood plain on both flanks. And the treaty-protected reservation of the Tohono O’odhan Indians, who move freely between settlements on both sides.

More than two-thirds of right of way is privately owned, a goodly share by Texas ranchers requiring Rio Grande access to water cattle. Does Trump propose to use federal condemnation powers to seize their property? That would have the GOP’s Ammon Bundy sympathizers furious.

After running into tough going with Obamacare repeal, Trump exclaimed, “Who knew health care could be so complicated?” The answer, of course, is virtually everyone else. And the same goes for his devilishly difficult wall-building.

Unfortunately for us Northwesterners, the Coast Guard, which protects 95,000 miles of coastline and 4.5 million square miles of coastal waters, represents a highly valued economic and marine safety mainstay. And FEMA is equally important to folks from the hurricane-prone Gulf States and Eastern Seaboard.

We get real protection from the Coast Guard and FEMA, something we’ll never see from the border boondoggle. So if the cuts gain traction, we stand to lose doubly.


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