(WASHINGTON EXAMINER) — By Paul Bedard
Quick action in Congress to fund construction of President-elect Trump’s border wall is expected next year and it shouldn’t be too expensive complete, according to a key lawmaker who chairs the committee that oversees immigration.
What’s more, said Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, the project should be considered “shovel ready,” and part of the proposed $1 trillion infrastructure project eyed by the incoming administration.
“In terms of federal spending, it’s not going to be that expensive and if President Trump when he becomes president is talking about an infrastructure program, well this would be a shovel ready project,” said Johnson, citing 2006 legislation signed by former President Bush and called the Secure Fence Act to fund completion of the wall.
Appearing before Johnson’s Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last week, the chief of the U.S. Border Patrol said the fence should be completed. “Does it work? Yes,” said Border Patrol Chief Mark Morgan.
Johnson told Secrets that there are immigration fees that can be instituted or increased to raise money from Mexicans and others seeking entry to the United States. He suggested that it might cost “a few billion.”
He added that a wall would not only increase security but alleviate the staffing woes in the Border Patrol.
“Fencing actually works. So we need better fencing. We need more better fencing. And that could relieve pressure. Let’s face it, part of the problem that Customs and Border Protection is dealing with is the fact that they are having a hard time hiring enough people. So the nice thing about fencing, particularly if you have double fencing with a road in between the fencing, it requires fewer agents. And so you kind of kill two birds with one stone there. You provide better security and you are able to provide this better security with fewer agents. That’s a good thing,” the newly reelected senator said.
And he said that a wall isn’t needed for all of the border, some of which is nearly impossible to get to because of rough terrain and some covered with technology.
“From my standpoint, the wall maybe viewed somewhat as a metaphor. I don’t think we need 1,700 miles of it, but we need far better fencing than we’ve got,” said the senator.
Asked about potential protests in Congress to construction, Johnson said he believes the House and Senate should respect the election outcome.
“Hopefully they heard the wish of the American public that we want to secure our border,” said Johnson.
“If we’re ever going to fix our immigration system I think the American public is going to demand that they have confidence in the fact that we are committed to securing our border, which they very justifiably don’t have that confidence,” he said.