Congress has approved and the president has signed an agreement to reopen government including funding $1.375 billion dollars for wall funding.
Spent some time reviewing the documentation behind the proposal, particularly section 230 and 231 starting on page 37
An overall conclusion is while focus might be on the topline number, there are a number of restrictions on both this funding, and the previous funding that the net effect is more symbolic than material.
These restrictions include the following:
- The funding is only for the Rio Grande Valley Sector, only the easternmost ~175 miles.
- Five specific areas are excluded (a) Santa Anna Wildlife Refuge (b) Bentson-Rio Grande Valley State Park (c) La Lomita Historical Park (d) National Butterfly Center and (e) East of Vista del Mar Ranch. Several of these areas were part of last year’s construction plans and are now disallowed by this bill. That was of particular interest to the Congressman for the area press release
- For any wall sections in five specific communities in Starr County, they must first come up with a plan with local approval
- The wall needs to be bollard style, not those new prototypes or other design.
At present when one visits the Lower Rio Grande, one notices sections of the wall start and stop at irregular intervals. A few miles of fence, then a big gap and then a few miles of fence again. This is to extent reflective of the previous process that started with a Secure Fence Act of 2006 and was followed a year later by a change in the budget accord that both gave flexibility and required local consultation (for more details see here.
Preliminary analysis suggests that the current funding bill won’t really change that model. So for those who think a continuous fence is somehow effective (this site has lots of examples why people simple pick other methods), this bill give a symbolic “we started building a wall” moment but doesn’t seem to materially change the status quo.
It might unfortunately result in worse outcomes for some individuals, particularly those whose land is seized for this incomplete solution. The big wild card is whether executive action beyond this bill is also taken.