No matter what side of the political spectrum you belong to, you probably have an opinion about Trump’s border wall. This article will attempt to establish the general facts necessary for an informed point of view, no matter how you view the wall itself.
How much does the wall cost?
During his campaign, President Trump claimed it would only have a price tag of $10-12bn during the 2016 campaign. Mitch McConnell (R), Senate Majority Leader, claimed it would cost $12-15bn. A Department of Homeland Security internal report found a grand total of $21.6bn. The Washington Post has their estimate at $25bn. And Cato Institute estimates a $58.9 billion price tag. None of these estimates include the cost of purchasing land on which to build the wall. Additionally, they are based on vastly different estimates of the length and height of the wall. Trump’s campaign promise was to use concrete, 55ft tall at points, and consistently 5ft below the ground, though the current construction does not reach these specifications. The fact is, we don’t know how much the wall costs.
Where does the money come from?
There has been controversy over the source of funding. Trump has pulled more than $3.6bn from the Pentagon using executive orders, claiming the border situation is a crisis. Trump has pulled money from government projects, including taking money from schools for children living on military bases. If Trump’s plans for the wall are to be completed, he will likely need additional funding. It is anyone’s guess where that funding may come from.
How big is the wall, actually? How big does Trump want it to become?
He claimed the wall would cover all 2,000 miles of the southern border during his campaign trail. He later clarified he only plans for it to cover half of that, arguing the rest is adequately blocked by natural terrain such as the Rio Grande. Customs and Border Protection claims they will construct 450 miles by the end of 2020 with existing funding. Currently there are fewer than 100 miles of barrier between the U.S. and Mexico, mostly built in heavily populated areas.
How effective is the wall?
Gangs have been able to cut through sections of the wall using commercially available tools costing less than $100. These holes were reportedly large enough to fit drugs and people through. CBP has declined to disclose the frequency of these events. The Sinaloa cartel has also at times built tunnels as deep as 70 feet underground for their smuggling operations. It is likely that blocking conventional crossing routes would lead to increased illegal human trafficking through such tunnels.
How many miles of wall have been built by the current administration?
Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan announced less than two weeks ago that only 78 miles of barrier had been constructed under the Trump administration, and that all of it was renovation of existing fencing. When pressed for why there had been no new wall put up, he responded that ground was broken in Texas on a site where they plan to begin building the first miles of non-replacement wall.