Yesterday we learned that two Senate Republicans have joined forces to revive the immigration legislation that’s wallowing in Congress due to inter-party bickering. Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven of North Dakota are calling their deal a “border surge.” As Lawrence Downes wrote on this blog, “This obviously calls to mind similar surges in harsh desert regions where the United States is deploying troops and drones.”

At a price tag of almost $30 billion, it would be similarly costly.

Regardless of where it’s going, $30 billion is a staggering figure. But Republicans want to use the money to almost double the size of an already robust Border Patrol, to 40,000 agents from 21,000. They want to add 700 miles of fencing. And for good measure, they plan to throw in some infrared ground sensors and thermal imaging cameras, along with a fleet of drones.

Given that these are not exactly boom times, recent investment in other projects of major national consequence has been seriously inadequate. Infrastructure spending, for example, is now at its lowest point in 20 years. Excruciatingly expensive trains can barely make their way at anemic paces along the northeast corridor without breaking down, and we’ve all but abandoned talk of expanding to real high-speed trains. In the past month alone two bridges collapsed — in Washington State and Minnesota — and countless others desperately need repairs. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave this country’s bridges a C+ rating for 2013.

via What Else Could a $30 Billion ‘Border Surge’ Buy? –