Despite what you've heard, construction on the wall is starting

Wait… I thought this was the whole reason the government shut down for more than a month. Congress won’t give the President any money for the border wall and nobody seems to want him to declare a national emergency to create alternate funding paths. So how can we be building the wall? Turns out that we’re at least getting a start on it. (Associated Press)

The U.S. government is preparing to begin construction of more border walls and fencing in South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, likely on federally owned land set aside as wildlife refuge property.

Heavy construction equipment is supposed to arrive starting Monday. A photo posted by the nonprofit National Butterfly Center shows an excavator parked next to its property.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has said it intends to start building this month on federally owned land.

There’s no magical money tree that suddenly sprouted in the White House Rose Garden and this isn’t some sort of end-around run on Congress. Almost a year ago, before everything turned into the Trump vs Pelosi showdown at the O.K. Corral, Congress approved a package of $600 million to build 33 miles of walls and fencing in Texas along the Rio Grande Valley. Since that was already in the bank, Customs and Border Patrol is moving forward with the project.

Since most of this will be taking place on federal land, the White House gets to avoid all the unpleasantness of using eminent domain on recalcitrant landowners. These are also areas that CBP previously identified as priority spots where too many illegal aliens were coming across. In that sense, it’s a positive sign of progress, but there’s still far too much more to be done.

What I’m waiting to see, assuming more funding materializes in any fashion, is what happens when they begin to cover the areas on privately held land. I previously suggested one solution (in only half-joking fashion), but that involved walling a bunch of people outside of the interior of the country. Somehow I don’t think anybody will be up for that plan, sadly. Going the eminent domain route would be my second to last choice, personally. (With the last choice being no barrier at all.)

But if people won’t accept a reasonable offer of compensation for a project the nation needs to complete, what other choice is there? Hopefully, smarter folks than me will come up with some suggestions because I’m fresh out of ideas at this point.