“I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I’ll build them very inexpensively — I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.” —Donald Trump
Well, even before he becomes President—and it’s just a scant two weeks—Donald Trump has reneged on another of his campaign promises: to build the Big Anti-Mexican Wall along the border and then get Mexico to pay for it. That was an insane proposal from the outset, and Mexico rightly ignored it. According to CNN, Trump’s team has said that it will fund the Wall through Congressional appropriations. That means we Americans will pay for this folly. To be sure, Trump has issued one of his stupid tw**ts saying that the “dishonest media” doesn’t see that we’ll get the dosh back from Mexico:
New York Rep. Chris Collins said Friday that American taxpayers would front the cost for the wall but that he was confident Trump could negotiate getting the money back from Mexico.
“When you understand that Mexico’s economy is dependent upon US consumers, Donald Trump has all the cards he needs to play,” Collins, congressional liaison for the Trump transition team, told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day.” “On the trade negotiation side, I don’t think it’s that difficult for Donald Trump to convince Mexico that it’s in their best interest to reimburse us for building the wall.”
How much will this cost? Well, here’s one estimate from CNBC:
According to a Government Accountability Office 2009 report, the cost to build 1 mile of fencing at the border averaged between $2.8 million and $3.9 million. But that figure may be low relative to costs for future sections of the wall. It’s based only on the first 220 miles fenced and does not include other factors, such as topography, transportation logistics in harder-to-reach areas (i.e. road-building and earth and drainage work), labor costs, land acquisition costs and surveillance equipment.
“The first miles of fencing were in the easiest” places, said Marc Rosenblum, deputy director of the U.S. Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Institute. These were fencing areas in or close to cities and accessible transportation, rather than deep in deserts or mountains. Additionally, the first miles were on public lands, while completing a border wall would require the government to acquire land from private holders. The GAO estimate for one difficult section of fencing near San Diego was $16 million.
But wait! There’s more:
The actual cost for the rest of the border wall (roughly 1,300 miles) could be as high as $16 million per mile, with a total price tag of $15 billion to $25 billion. Rosenblum said the $15 billion low-end estimate is “probably an underestimate,” because the parts that have yet to be fenced are the most difficult — the most dense and arid. At $16 million per mile and with 1,300 miles to secure, the estimated cost would be $12 billion, and the price of private land acquisitions and maintenance of fencing could push that total cost higher.
The U.S. government would have to pay to maintain the wall, which could cost as much as $750 million a year, according to an analysis conducted by Politico. And then if it wanted to man it with personnel, that would be an additional cost — border patrol has an operating budget of $1.4 billion for 21,000 agents.
Assuming a total cost of $25 billion and a total American population of 319 million, that works out to be about $80 for every man, woman, and child in the U.S. What a bargain! (Of course, that doesn’t include maintenance.)
I’m betting it won’t be built, but I’d bet a lot that Mexico won’t contribute a peso.
Two weeks left until the carnage begins. . .