Republicans on Capitol Hill have now proposed spending $1.6 billion of your tax dollars – not Mexico’s money – for construction of a physical barrier along the international boundary with Mexico.
The Hill reports:
The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday released a bill allocating $1.6 billion to begin construction of a physical barrier along the U.S. border with Mexico, one of President Trump’s central campaign promises.
The bill funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for fiscal year 2018 also negates one of Trump’s central promises, that Mexico would pay for the construction of the wall.
“Keeping Americans safe by protecting our homeland is a top priority. This funding bill provides the resources to begin building a wall along our southern border, enhance our existing border security infrastructure, hire more border patrol agents, and fund detention operations,” said House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee Chairman John Carter.
Not only does the funding come from US taxpayers instead of Mexico, the proposal leaves open the questions of what contractors will build the wall and whether there will be a sufficient supply of labor to construct what would be a massive public works project.
Earlier this year, Construction Citizen noted the fact that a labor shortage across Texas and the US will create a pinch when contractors go out to bid on the wall. Bloomberg also put a fine point on it:
A labor shortage has left few hands to build houses and factories in the region, where wages have already been rising and projects delayed. Now, the president’s plan for “immediate construction of a border wall” will force the government to find legal builders for a project that could employ thousands if not tens of thousands.
About half of construction workers in Texas are undocumented, and nationwide 14 percent lack authorization for employment in the U.S., according to the Workers Defense Project, an Austin group that advocates for undocumented laborers.
“If he is going to build a wall with legal workers in Texas, he is going to have a very hard time,” said Stan Marek, chief executive officer of Marek Brothers, a Houston commercial builder. “There is a real shortage of legal labor.”
The labor shortage coupled with the fact that workers on federal projects must be E-Verified would seem to leave the Trump Administration with two options for a quick resolution and forward motion on the border wall:
- Drop the E-Verification requirement for this federal project.
- Grant legal status to thousands, if not tens of thousands of currently undocumented workers in Texas and other border states.