President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget plan asks Congress for enough money to build just 60 miles of border wall.
The request for just $1.6 billion in wall funding is found in the budget document released by the Department of Homeland Security, which describes the agency’s 98-page plan for spending its overall 2018 budget of $70.7 billion. According to the document:
- 32 miles of new border wall system in the Rio Grande Valley Sector,
- 28 miles of new levee wall in the Rio Grande Valley Sector, and
- 14 miles of new border wall system that will replace secondary fence in the San Diego Sector.
The budget assumes a cost of all $22 million per mile of new wall or fence.
In April, 100 days after his inauguration, Trump again promised he would build a wall, despite opposition from Congress, saying:
The border is 2000 miles long. Roughly 654 miles of the border has some barrier, ranging from simple barbed wired to a set of tall, layered walls alongside San Diego. According to the Mercury News, “along the existing wall or fence, 36 miles have double fencing with both primary and secondary barriers, and 14 miles have three layers of fencing, according to Customs and Border Protection. The San Diego area is one of the most fortified, with 46 miles of primary fencing and 14 miles of secondary fencing—and enough room to accommodate the road that runs between them.”
At the proposed pace of 60 miles per year, it will take 10 years to provide double-layer fences to the one-third of the border that now has wiring or walls, and 31 years to double-fence the entire length of border. In contrast, the United States defeated two huge military empires in the four years after 1941.
In a May 23 briefing, agency spokesman David Lapin waved off media questions about the wall. “We’re relying on CBP and the Border Patrol experts to identify the areas of most need” for a wall, he said. “It will be an iterative process over time to address the most critical areas as we go.”
The 2018 budget request actually is only slightly more ambitious that the March supplement request for $1 billion, which was intended to build 48 miles of additional wall.
Many Democratic and GOP members of Congress are loudly or quietly opposing the planned border wall, which would slow the northward movement of low-wage employees and consumers to businesses in Democratic-dominated cities. But some members of Congress want Trump to build the wall faster. Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, for example, released a statement during a May 23 hearing in the Senate, saying:
Democrats, however, hope to wreck Trump’s administration by defeating his primary campaign promise of building a border wall.