The U.S. Department of Homeland Security released an internal report that reveals the time-frame and cost for President Donald Trump’s intended wall along the U.S.-Mexico border: over three years to build at a cost of up to $21.6 billion.
During the presidential campaign, Trump stated the wall would cost as little as $8 billion; House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had estimated the cost as being as much as $15 billion. The additional cost estimated by the report derives from the time and cost of acquiring private land.
The roughly 1,250 miles wall would be completed by the end of 2020; 654 miles of the wall have already been fortified. The report that was examined by Reuters was ordered by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly; a DHS spokeswoman said the department does "not comment on or confirm the potential existence of pre-decisional, deliberative documents."
According to the report, the first phase of construction would cover 26 miles near San Diego, California; El Paso, Texas; and parts of Texas's Rio Grande Valley. Reuters reported, “The report assumes DHS would get funding from Congress by April or May, giving the department sufficient time to secure contractors and begin construction by September.
The second phase of construction would cover 151 miles in the Rio Grande Valley; Laredo, Texas; Tucson, Arizona; El Paso, Texas and Big Bend, Texas. The third phase would cover the rest of the border, roughly 1,080 miles.
The federal government has initiated a search for waivers to address environmental laws; contractors have already been contacted.
The second phase of construction proposed in the report would cover 151 miles (242 km) of border in and around the Rio Grande Valley; Laredo, Texas; Tucson, Arizona; El Paso, Texas and Big Bend, Texas. The third phase would cover an unspecified 1,080 miles (1,728 km), essentially sealing off the entire U.S.-Mexico border.
The report eschews dealing with major physical barriers; one problem for the wall is that much of it would be privately owned or inaccessible by road. As Reuters noted, “In addition to seeking eminent domain and environmental waivers, the U.S. government would also have to meet the requirements of the International Boundary and Water Commission, a U.S.-Mexico pact over shared waters. The report estimated that agreement alone could bring the cost from $11 million per mile to $15 million per mile in one area.”