By the scandalous standards of recent policy on immigration, it may seem like small potatoes. With a federal court demanding that separated parents and young children be reunited, and the Trump administration saying it doesn't know where all of them are, instances of ordinary incompetence might seem hardly worth mentioning. Even so, the findings of a new Government Accountability Office report on the building of a southern border wall shouldn't pass unnoticed.
A plan that was a bad idea to start with is being carried out, according to the report, "without key information on cost, acquisition baselines, and the contributions of previous barrier and technology deployments." In every way, President Donald Trump's wall promises to be a monument to fiscal dereliction.
The administration has yet to explain the rationale for a 2,000-mile barrier across terrain that is often inhospitable and substantially privately owned, and that will do little by itself to stem illegal immigration. It commissioned designs without securing support for the idea in Congress, from the public, or from border-state politicians whose states and economies would be most affected. On the basis of this report, you can be sure of one thing: This ill-conceived project would be needlessly expensive, even by the standards of ill-conceived projects.
Voters were told that Mexico would pay, but that isn't happening. So U.S. citizens would have to pay - and the Congress that's responsible for controlling government spending on their behalf needs to assert itself. The president is threatening to shut down the federal government this fall if he doesn't get money for his wall. The GAO report is one more reason, as if any more were needed, why Congress should deny him.