A Department of Homeland Security report seen by Reuters apparently contains the following bad news for Donald Trump: it could cost 21.6 billion dollars to construct fences and walls that would span most – but not all – of the US-Mexico border. During the election Trump repeatedly promised that the wall would cost 8 -12 billion dollars and that Mexico would pay for it. It looks like he will not keep either promise.
When candidate Trump promised a wall to his supporters during the campaign he failed to calculate three important factors in the cost:
1) The price of private land that needs to be purchased in order to build the wall is far greater than Trump anticipated. Along with the legal fees necessary to secure the land – in some cases involving eminent domain – the amount of land that needs to be purchased is staggering. Trump has a history of bullying small land and business owners to get what he wants and has used eminent domain repeatedly to build his hotels and golf courses.
2) The terrain crosses large areas where the building of a wall or even a fence is impractical. From mountainous areas to other vast stretches of land with no roads or infrastructure, the engineering and construction costs will be much greater than he thought.
3) The International Boundary and Water Commission, a federal government agency, oversees treaties and border issues on the US-Mexico border. Because of existing treaties and agreements with Mexico governing water and environmental regulations, the cost to build the wall would likely increase.
Finally, most experts continue to argue that the factors that drive people to cross the border illegally are not going to be addressed by the construction of the wall. The 21.6 billion dollars would go a long way to create economic opportunity in Mexico, treat drug addiction in the US, improve education and healthcare in border communities, and foster economic development between US and Mexican companies.
Donald Trump and the normally fiscally conservative Republicans in Congress will have to answer for wasting taxpayer money on a wall that won’t cover the whole border and won’t actually solve any problems.