On Wednesday, President Donald Trump visited the Department of Homeland Security and signed executive orders to begin construction of the Mexican border wall. Trump said in an exclusive interview with ABC News that construction of the wall would begin “within months.” Building the border wall and speeding up the deportation of illegal immigrants were among his key campaign promises.
Donald Trump plans to start building the wall soon
The executive orders include hiring 5,000 more Customs and Border Patrol agents that will apprehend people trying to cross the border. The Republican President will also triple the number of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to deport about 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States. Trump is also expected to restrict the entry of Muslims from the Middle-East and Africa into the US.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer described the border wall as a “large physical barrier on the southern border.” Trump’s ambitious wall project faces numerous challenges. Some of the US-Mexico border is already fenced, but he believes a wall is necessary to stop the illegal immigrants from Central and Latin America from entering the country.
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‘Walls can easily be breached’
Experts doubt whether a border wall would actually prevent illegal immigration. Republican Senator John McCain has said that the physical barrier will not be enough to secure the border. “Walls can easily be breached,” said McCain. It is also unclear whether the 2,000-mile wall is worth billions of dollars it is estimated to cost. Trump said last year that it could cost about $8 billion. But other estimates are significantly higher. Mexico has repeatedly refused to pay for the wall.
Donald Trump said Wednesday that he would make Mexico pay “100%” for the wall in some form or the other. One way to make Mexico pay is to hike the border transit costs or border tariffs. About 80% of Mexico’s exports go to the US. Another way is to tap into the remittances that illegal Mexican immigrants send home, which was worth $25 billion last year.
What will be the cost of land acquisition?
Trump’s goal is to start the project at the earliest. But the White House can divert only existing funds towards building the wall. The Republican-controlled Congress will have to approve the supply of fresh funds if the wall is to be completed. Ironically, the Republican Party has been preaching fiscal prudence for years.
Another major challenge is that much of the land required to build the wall is owned privately. It means there will be huge expropriation payments, lengthy legal proceedings, and political blowback. Mexican architecture firm Estudio 3.14 came up with a visualization of the border wall. Estudio 3.14 estimates that besides the $25 billion required to build the wall, there will be a maintenance and border patrol cost of $2.1 billion every year.