The Corner

U.S.

Hey, Remember Building the Wall?

New bollard-style fencing next to vehicle barriers on the U.S.-Mexico border in Santa Teresa, N.M., March 5, 2019. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

This morning, Dr. William Figlesthaler, a candidate for Congress in Florida’s 19th district, sent out an email with the subject line, “it’s time to build the wall.” (In one of Figlesthaler’s campaign videos, the candidate declares, “in Congress, I will fight to build something new, a massive wall along our southern border, one that keeps the criminals, rapists, and drug lords forever.”) Figlesthaler is one of ten Republicans competing for the nomination in this R+13 district; incumbent Francis Rooney is retiring.

In ordinary times, it would be a bad sign for an incumbent president running for a second term that members of his own party are running on the same promise that drove him to a first term. But these are not ordinary times.

As of May 22, the U.S. government has built three miles of primary border fencing where none existed before, and 13 miles of new secondary fencing. Roughly 167 miles of new border fencing has replaced old primary barriers that had holes or were otherwise substandard, and another eleven miles replaced old secondary barriers. Altogether, so far the government has put up 194 miles of new fencing — but only 16 miles in spots where the fencing didn’t exist before.

Most people who are eager to see a new border fencing or wall will give the president credit for what has been done so far. (A notable exception is Ann Coulter, who sees the meager progress on the wall after three and a half years in office as an indictment of an unserious, perpetually distracted, too-much-talk-and-too-little-action presidency.)

Joe Biden’s immigration plan does not include any funding for border-fencing construction. In November, those who want to see more physical barriers on the southern border to prevent illegal immigration will have the option of the incumbent’s slow progress, or the challenger’s no progress at all.

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