Donald Trump faces his promise of a border wall

With Trump in office, he now faces obstacles before he can build a border wall


Photo by Dario Lopez-Mills, AP

Donald Trump shakes the hand of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

Emilee Shoff-Olson, Staff Writer

On February 2nd, 2017, Senate leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Congress will follow through on Trump’s border wall, but there are many obstacles to come.

Senator McConnell estimates that  the border wall will cost between $12 and $15 billion. The Government Accountability Office puts the price tag at $6.5 million per mile of single-layer fence, plus $4.2 million in addition to that for every mile in order to build more fencing and roads, not counting maintenance. A study in July from Bernstein Research put the total cost at $15 to $25 billion. This wall is costly, and the money must come from somewhere.

Since Mexico has refused to pay for the wall, Trump will have to find other funds. Trump plans to shift already-allocated Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funds to start building the wall. This would be protected by the 2006 Secure Fence Act, which allowed the president to build 700 miles of fence; former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama built 652 miles along the border, which is just under 2000 miles long.  U.S. taxpayers may also foot the bill, starting with adding a 20% tax on imports from Mexico. Then it’s up to the Republican-led Congress to come up with billions of dollars more, cutting money for other domestic programs to finance the wall. House speaker Paul Ryan has said that this money could also come from Trump’s administration, and that the project will not add to the budget deficit.

Other impending conflicts exist. Most of Mexico’s border is privately owned. When former President George W. Bush attempted to build border fencing in 2006, he was faced with opposition from local ranchers and farmers. Many of these people took the case to court.

“There’s any number of complications,” said former House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, citing obstacles like Native American reservations, national parks and forests, and much of the remaining 1,300 miles is rough terrain, with steep construction costs and a limited return for the dollar. “It’s expensive and it’s complicated.” said Rogers. Construction of the wall in 2006 resulted in much resistance from the locals. .”We have built a fence along the border almost as much as we possibly can without violating tribal laws, environmental requirements, and taking over people’s’ personal and private property,” said Michelle Mrdeza, who was on the House Appropriations panel during the fence debate of the mid-2000s. Trump will undoubtedly be met with resistance on many aspects.   

Many complications exist, from lack of funds to violation of property rights.  However, Trumps confidence is keeping his supporters hopeful.