After having quadrupled in the 1990s, and more than tripled in the 2000s, the budget of the U.S. Border Patrol is apparently regarded by Republicans in Congress as a pathetic shell in need of a vast infusion of dollars. To buy GOP votes for immigration reform, Democrats have acceded to dumping billions of dollars to fortify the Southwest border, which is already more secure than it has been in decades.
The amendment, offered by Republican Sens. Robert Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven of North Dakota, is a case study in how budgetary decisions can be driven by overblown political rhetoric, not national interests.
The amendment would spend $38 billion in addition to the $8 billion that was embedded in the original Senate proposal on personnel and technology along the border. That is the political price that a handful of Senate Republicans have extracted to propel the bill - including legalization and a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented residents out of the upper chamber with enough momentum to give it a fighting chance in the reform-averse House. In this case, the ends do justify the means even if the means are wildly profligate.