The bipartisan immigration bill passed by the Senate last week includes a massive boost in border security spending. The provision was included at the 11th hour as a way to win Republican support for the sweeping legislation.
But is that provision little more than a huge boon for a handful of defense contractors? It sure looks that way. As the Washington Post reported Tuesday, the border security plan not only calls for nearly $30 billion for additional boots on the ground, it also provides nearly $4.5 billion for additional technology and equipment.
Some of the items, however, would have to be purchased from specific manufacturers. For example, the bill mandates that six Northrop Grumman airborne radar systems be set up along the border, according to the Post. Such a requirement would all but assure that Northrop secure the contract without taking part in a competitive bidding process.
And as if that weren't troubling enough, the GOP-backed "surge" at the border that calls for more fencing, more agents and more drones may only yield diminishing returns. As it turns out, federal spending at the border is already at historically high levels. And at the same time, illegal border crossings appear to be at a 40-year low, while deportations are at an all-time high.
Clearly, the United States has a right to secure its border. But that isn't what Republicans are really seeking when they demand that the border be sealed. The reality is that such an objective is simply unrealistic. The only two nations that have even come close to achieving such a goal are North Korea and East Germany. And in both cases, leaders in those countries weren’t trying to deter illegal immigration.
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