Post-Election Advisory Part 7: The Wall: Will There Be One and Who Will Pay For It?
During the presidential campaign, candidate Trump received a tremendous response from his supporter for his tough stance on immigration. His mantra that America was going to “build a wall” and “Mexico was going to pay for it” elicited loud cheers and became a staple at all of his campaign appearances.
Since the inauguration in January, President Trump has continued to talk about the wall and it remains a promise which his supporters expect to be fulfilled. However, as experts and elected officials have studied the concept, many challenges and practical considerations have emerged which may effect the ability of President Trump to carry out the promises of Candidate Trump.
Perhaps the most immediate obstacle facing President Trump is the projected cost of a completed border wall. According to a recent study from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), a finished border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border would cost as much as $21.6 billion, and take more than three years to construct. This is more than double the $12.0 billion price tag often cited by Trump in his campaign.
Cost is not the only complication that comes with building the border wall. The location of the border wall also provides several challenges. Natural barriers such as the Otay Mesa mountain range and Rio Grande River prevent President Trump from building a wall directly along the US-Mexico border. Additionally, most of the land the government plans to use to build the border wall is private property. Not all of the property owners are willing to grant permission to build on their land. Specifically, the Tohono O’dam tribe has stated they will not allow the wall to be constructed on their reservation. The private property owners who do grant the US permission to build on their property will require significant compensation, and this will add to the already-higher than estimated cost of building the wall.
And, as for the President’s oft-repeated assertion that “Mexico is going to pay for it”, Mexico has a different point of view, with top officials of the Mexican government adamant in their refusal to even discuss such a plan. In the meantime, President Trump’s stubborn insistence that Mexico will pay for the wall is causing a deep rift with one of America’s closest neighbors and most-important trading partners.
If President Trump moves forward with the proposed US-Mexico border wall despite the cost, the inevitable property disputes and the damage that it will do to relations with Mexico, the damage to U.S. interests could be serious and long-term. For more information about the Administration’s proposals for the wall, click here. For information about the response of the government of Mexico to the Administration’s proposals, click here.