Last week we highlighted another leaked document from the Department of Homeland Security allegedly detailing the costs and timeline of building Trump's border wall (see "DHS Report: Trump "Wall" To Cost $22 Billion, Take 3.5 Years To Build"). According to Reuters, the DHS report pegged the cost of the wall at $22 billion and estimated a construction timeline of 3.5 years.
Offering the first official glimpse of the parameters of Trump's "wall" along the US-Mexican border, an internal Department of Homeland Security report seen by Reuters reveals that the structure would be a series of fences and walls that would cost as much as $21.6 billion, and take some three and a half years to construct. The proposed cost is much higher than the $12-billion figure cited by Trump during his campaign and also higher than the $15 billion cited by Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. This latest leaked report is expected to be presented to DHS Secretary John Kelly in the coming days, although the administration will not necessarily take the actions it recommends.
Allegedly the new border wall will be completed in three phases, with the first phase covering only 26 miles around the easily accessible areas surrounding San Diego, CA and El Paso, Texas. Among other things, starting with the easiest and most accessible sections of the wall will allow President Trump to declare an early victory on a key campaign promise.
Phase two of the project would cover another 151 miles around other large border cities while phase three would effectively seal off the border.
Today, data and maps provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Bloomberg help to provide some context for where the United States' southern board is most porous and sheds light on why certain portions of the border were targeted for early completion. Nearly half of all illegal immigrant apprehensions in 2016, 187,000 people, occurred in the Rio Grande Valley of Southern Texas which is targeted in phase 1 of Trump's border plan.
As Bloomberg notes, the construction of border barriers was seemingly effective at reducing illegal crossings in San Diego in the early 90s and Arizona in the early 2000's. Since then, crossings have continued to move east and most recently spiked in the Rio Grande Valley of Southern Texas.
There was a significant drop in apprehensions after fencing was built near San Diego in the early 1990s. The drop there was followed by a spike in apprehensions to the east, near Tucson, Arizona, where the border was less fortified. When fencing was extended across much of the Arizona border, apprehensions fell there, too. Now apprehensions are highest in the Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol Sector in southern Texas. Much of Texas lacks fencing, though there is some in the Rio Grande Valley.
As of now, roughly one-third of the southern border has some type of barrier ranging from 18-foot-tall iron fencing and corrugated metal to makeshift vehicle barriers and barbed wire.
Of course, most of the existing border fence was built after the 2006 passage of the Secure Fence Act, under President George W. Bush.
Federally funded construction began in the 1990s, when 14 miles of fencing was built along the California border during the George H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations. The barriers targeted border crossers between Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego.
In 2006, George W. Bush signed the Secure Fence Act, which ultimately led to construction of 653 miles of reinforced fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. The Department of Homeland Security had finished most of the fencing by the time President Barack Obama took office in 2009, but the agency still has 47 miles of authorized, unfinished fencing to be constructed. Trump has cited the Secure Fence Act as the legal authority to restart the work on border barriers.
While the latest DHS report pegged the cost of Trump's wall at $22 billion, estimates from different sources vary wildly from Trump's $8 billion estimate on the low end to New America Foundation's $40 billion target on the high end.