Donald Trump, Immigration, Issues

4 Key Things to Know About Building Trump’s Border Wall

Photo: U.S. Navy

Photo: U.S. Navy

President-elect Donald Trump has legal authorization to move forward on his core campaign promise of building a border wall; he just needs the money to do it.

Trump said he still intends to require Mexico to pay for the wall, but needs congressional appropriation to expedite the process.

Here are four things to know about the border wall.

1. Legal Authorization

The Secure Fence Act of 2006 authorized a 700-mile, double-layered border fence along the U.S.-Mexican border to keep illegal immigrants from entering the United States.

The measure had broad bipartisan support and passed the House by a vote of 283 to 183 in September of that year. It then passed the Senate a couple of weeks later with a vote of 80-19. President George W. Bush signed the bill on Oct. 26.

A fence might seem short of Trump’s promise of a “big, beautiful, powerful wall.” However, Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform, a pro-border enforcement group, said he believes it is essentially in line with Trump’s pledge.

“Fence or wall or barrier, he called for securing the border,” Mehlman told The Daily Signal. “His campaign was about fulfilling the promise of the 2006 law.”

2. How Much of the Wall Is Already Built?

The first layer of the planned double-layered wall is a little over half finished, as is much of the fence to stop vehicles, but the second layer still has a long way to go.

In May 2011, President Barack Obama asserted the border fence is “now basically complete” because the primary and vehicle fencing has been built. PolitiFact said this was “mostly false,” because the secondary fencing was such a key aspect of the fence. When finished, the complete wall is supposed to be wide enough to drive a truck between the two layers.

The Department of Homeland Security has completed 353 miles of primary pedestrian fencing, which runs directly along the border and is intended to prevent crossings on foot. The department also completed another 300 miles of vehicle fencing, which prevents motorized vehicles from crossing.

However, just 36 miles of secondary fencing is finished. This fencing runs behind the primary fencing, usually separated by a patrol road that allows the Border Patrol to monitor the area between fences. Another 14 miles of tertiary pedestrian fencing, which runs behind the secondary fencing, is intended to prevent attempts to cross the border on foot.

Mehlman said these May 2015 numbers on the wall are the most recent, and are about the same as the 2012 numbers regarding miles complete.

The cost of building that much of the existing fence was $2.3 billion, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

3. How Will Congress Pay for It?

Since Congress doesn’t have to pass a stand-alone bill for the wall, the Republican majority reportedly intends to make it part of an appropriations bill that must pass by the end of April. Most media reports are not putting a finite figure on the cost other than in the billions.

The most ambitious estimate was $11 billion, said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, a pro-border enforcement think tank.

She told The Daily Signal she expected it would be less, adding that number is small compared to the estimated $50 billion taxpayers spend each year on illegal immigration costs, from crime to welfare benefits.

Since so many Democrats, including Senate Democratic Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York, voted for the Secure Fence Act, Republicans reportedly believe they will have a political advantage in pushing the appropriation through. Further, Democrats won’t likely want to shut down the government over stopping the wall, according to Vaughan.

“I don’t think it will be politically difficult for Schumer or others to change their position on border security because so many have already done a total reversal on border security,” Vaughan said. “But shutting down the government, that is something they were severely critical of the Republicans for doing and this would be a popular bill.”

4. Could Mexico Really Pay?

For now, the Trump transition team is not getting into specifics as to when the Mexican government would cover the cost of the wall.

“There will be ongoing discussions with Congress on how to fund and organize [the wall],” Trump transition team spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters Friday during a conference call.

The notion of getting some form of reimbursement from Mexico shouldn’t be outright dismissed, Vaughan said.

“It’s hard for me to see the Mexican government agreeing to write a check for the U.S. wall, but the Trump administration could find ways to extract revenue by withholding remittance, by seizing the assets of Mexican crime syndicates, or reducing foreign aid,” Vaughan said. “It’s not only Mexico. It could be other countries in Central America.”

Commentary by Fred Lucas, the Daily Signal

  • BonLovesFreedom

    The question is, what was the $8 billion designated in 2006 spent on, because there is still a lot of wall to be built! One big beef with G.W.Bush – he did not build the wall as stipulated. Maybe if the $6 billion that hitlery misplaced as Sec. of State was found, we could use that to finish building the wall!

    • WVF

      Anything Bush started will have to be totally redone. Mr. Trump is a builder, and he knows what needs to be done to build a real wall!

  • Robert

    The first place anyone who knows about business knows how much it would hurt the US economy to build the wall and the illegals would come anyway because they are needed for the economy to stay stable, they added $345 Billion to the economy in 2015 and expected to add $500 Billion this year so you see they are a positive not a negative and as soon as Trump found this out he had sugar plums dancing in his head and you heard nothing more about the wall.

    • WVF


      • Robert

        I would not expect anyone that attended Junior College to understand world workings, most can not even understand USA workings. A 3rd grader could give you insight on how to research with an open mind.

        • WVF

          Dummy, HAVE A BAD DAY

          • Robert

            I do suppose Community College does not give you much perspective about the Constitution or the World. Do not give up, there are factual books you can read at the public library and they have helpers there help one understand what they are reading. in an unbiased fashion.
            HAVE A GOOD DAY

          • WVF

            HAVE A BAD DAY

        • Kurt

          People such as Conrad Hilton, Roger Staubach, and deceased billionaire Bill Daniels all attended Junior College. Since you are so brilliant, how about a list of the books you have published. My friend WVF is a published author.

          • Robert

            Conrad Hilton was born into money, maybe not as you see it today but at the time his father was wealthy, by standards, Roger Staubach made his money playing a sport that you do not have to have a brain to play just do what you are told and Bill Daniels wen to military academy which is much better than most high ranking colleges at the time. You forgot one very important detail, in their business dealing they surrounded them selves with the brightest minds available, the same most successful people do, Most rich go to college to make connections not get an education because they do not need it they rely on the bright educated people they can hire to do their work for them.In most cases that is people who went to a high quality college and did pay attention and get the education you could never get in a junior college. There are also the self educated like my father was, only went to the third grade in school and he was a cargo pilot in WWII because of his age, spoke 7 languages fluently and could talk to anyone on any subject they brought up, Our house was filled with books,any time he could get a book to read he got it and read it .
            I do say that Colleges that push religion should not get federal funding and most teach a bias version of the Constitution.
            HAVE A GOOD DAY

          • Kurt

            It amazes me that you have a father who was obviously a very successful self educated man, and yet you belittle people who attend Junior College and Community College as not being good enough. Like your father, many people become extremely successful with very meager beginnings. Hilton, Staubach, and Daniels all attended the same Junior College as did my son who is now in a US Service Academy.

          • Robert

            I belittle anyone who tries to push religion into Government, through laws. the junior college thing was originally intended for someone pushing religion into the Constitution where is prohibited by the Constitution. I am a religious person but no one will ever see me saying that i think a law should be to support my beliefs, because I believe in the Constitution and am a great believer in the Federalist papers and letters of the founders and their speeches. not someones interpetation of the items because they are written in plain English.
            HAVE A GOOD DAY

  • marcus johannes

    No more Foreign Aid to any country that has more then one hundred thousand of their citizens in this country illegally ,Especially those country`s that refuse to take their criminals back when we try to deport them , As Ted Poe and Louie Gohmert of Texas have said ,Why should we give money to these country`s ?? They will hate us for free

  • WVF

    These four things mentioned in this article are insignificant. Mr. Trump will build the wall–not a fence–and Mexico will ultimately pay for it! The 700 mile wall is estimated to cost about $10 billion. Don’t forget, the impostor in the White House just gave Iran $150 billion. I highly doubt that Mr. Trump will have much difficulty in getting a real wall built!

  • ProudSCresident

    Heck, he could pay for it by selling personalized bricks in it! I’d buy one!

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