This timeline is ongoing and will be updated as events unfold.
A cornerstone to President Donald Trump’s agenda, construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border has stirred up controversy from its earliest mentions on the campaign trail.
Even after scaling back his vision for a “great big wall” of concrete spanning nearly 2,000 miles to a steel bollard design replacing particularly rundown stretches, the president has struggled to garner the Congressional support (and funding) that’s needed for the national security push. Work is underway, but the government shutdown, national emergency declaration and other measures have stirred up so much noise in the media that these details are easily lost.
Here, we’ve distilled the timeline of events down to key funding developments and project activity over the past few years. You’ll notice some of the players involved, contract amounts, scopes of work — and that replacement of existing structure far outweighs construction of new wall. Though progress has been piecemeal, more is to come, so we’ll keep this up to date with the latest.
Trump administration awards $569M border wall contract despite calls to spend more on the coronavirus fight
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded BFBC LLC, a subsidiary of Bozeman, Montana-based Barnard Construction, a $569 million contract modification for the construction of approximately 17.2 miles of barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border in California. This adds to the $141.7 million contract awarded to the company in May for work in California and Arizona.
Trump administration announces border wall camera to stream progress
After the idea was first proposed in November by Jared Kushner, weekly meetings led to a recent announcement that a stream from the camera will appear on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website. The video will display daytime work from the last 30 days of what the administration says is the first 162 miles of the completed border wall.
Kiewit subsidiary in Albuquerque lands $1.8 billion border wall stretch
Southwest Valley Contractors renegotiated the project, originally worth $646 million. The work is on 88 miles of barrier fencing in Tuscon, Arizona, and is expected to be completed in September 2021.
19 states sue Trump administration for diverting military funding to the border wall
Shortly after the ACLU sued the administration for diverting $3.8 billion in military funds to the border wall, California led 18 other states in filing suit against the administration, alleging that the funds go against Congress’ intent for the budgeting of funds and the plan is in violation of the Constitution.
Three organizations file suit to block $3.8 billion of military funding to be diverted for border wall
In February, Defense Secretary Mark Esper approved $3.8 billion from military programs to become border wall funds after a request from the Department of Homeland Security. The American Civil Liberties Union, Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition sued, and requested a California district court block the fund diversion, saying the move usurps Congress’ budget allocation powers.
Federal district court blocks Trump administration from diverting funds from submarine base
In September, the Department of Defense announced the diverting of $89 million from the Bangor project in Washington state, a construction project meant to provide new facilities for the naval submarine base there. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued to maintain the funding on the project. The court agreed that the border wall does not count as a military construction project.
DHS waives procurement regulations for border wall construction
Department of Homeland Security's Acting Director Chad Wolf waived procurement laws that govern publicly funded construction projects to expedite work on portions of the border wall.
The White House requests $2 billion in border wall funding in 2021 budget
The White House's 2021 fiscal year budget only asks for $2B in border wall funding, including $2 billion for funding for the border wall. In fiscal year 2020, the White House requested $5 billion in border wall funding. Diverted funds from the military spending to border wall construction likely accounted for the difference. The Wall Street Journal reported on the request, with analysis.
The Washington Post obtains detailed government data about Trump’s border-wall project
The newspaper compiled a list of contracts in a comprehensive report on what's been built so far and what's to come ahead of the election. "The data shows the Trump administration is far from delivering on the president’s promise to finish more than 500 miles of new barriers by early next year," it reads, followed by a breakdown of all contracts awarded and a map of the 650 miles of border, the type of barriers involved and the plans for replacement, “vehicle barriers," or new construction along the entire border.
Federal appeals court lifts Texas court's block on $3.6B in military funding
Two of a three-judge panel in the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a lower court's position to block military funding for the border wall.
Arizona lawmakers introduce bill that would clear way for border wall projects on private land
Arizona lawmakers have introduced a bill that would amend state regulations and exempt border wall projects built on private property from having to secure a building permit.
2019: Patchy progress, wobbly funding
Federal judge blocks Trump from using $3.6B of military funds for border wall
A federal judge in the Western District of Texas has issued a permanent injunction blocking President Donald Trump's administration from using military funds for border wall construction.
Private group starts construction of another stretch of US-Mexico border wall
Private organization We Build the Wall started construction on a new stretch of U.S.-Mexico border wall south of Mission, Texas.
Trump's White House requests webcams to livestream border wall construction progress
Officials from President Donald Trump's administration are pushing for installing web-enabled cameras to livestream construction of portions of the U.S.-Mexico border wall.
Trump allows Texas border wall construction to begin without standard environmental reviews
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin K. McAleenan waived environmental and other regulations for U.S.-Mexico border wall work in three Texas counties in Customs and Border Protection's Rio Grande Valley Sector.
Section of border wall underway in Donna, Texas
A crew broke ground on what local media called the first new stretch of border wall in southern Texas, in Donna. President Donald Trump was on site during a ceremony to sign the wall, local media reported.
$296M contract for 22 miles of wall near Santa Ana in Texas awarded
CBP and the Army Corps of Engineers awarded an up to $296 million contract to Gibraltar-Caddell Joint Venture. Starting east of the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge on the southern border of Texas, the project includes 22 miles of noncontiguous, 18-30 foot tall steel bollards in gaps between existing wall segments.
DoD diverts $3.6B in military funds to border wall construction
The U.S. military will transfer a total of $3.6 billion to the Department of the Army so that it can build 11 wall segments. Defense Secretary Mark Esper has determined that the selected wall projects are necessary to support the use of armed forces at the border under Trump's national emergency declaration.
Work begins on border wall segment paid for with military funds
Work started on a 2-mile section of fencing at the official entry point in Lukeville, Arizona, marking the groundbreaking of the first project using funds formerly earmarked for the Department of Defense through Trump's emergency declaration.
CBP awards $305M worth of Texas border wall contracts
The agency, along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, awarded an $80.9 million base contract to New Mexico-based Southwest Valley Constructors for the construction of 11 miles of new levee walls in Hidalgo County, Texas. With options, the total contract is worth up to $304.6 million.
Florida authorities investigating We Build the Wall
The Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services is investigating We Build the Wall, a privately funded group registered in the state that has built a section of border wall in New Mexico, after complaints about how the group raises and allocates donations.
Supreme Court allows border wall construction to move forward
The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday lifted a lower-court's injunction preventing the use of $2.5 billion of military funds for the construction of barriers at the border.
CBP: No new border wall has been built with Trump in office
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a July 11 statement that, despite 205 miles of new and replacement barriers being funded to date, only projects involving the replacement of dilapidated existing sections had been completed.
DHS waives regulations for latest border wall contract
Just days after U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $33 million contract for about four miles of border wall construction in Starr County, Texas, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has waived conditions that would otherwise require it to adhere to approximately 30 environmental and other regulations for the project.
Federal judge stops border wall projects paid for with military funds
The same federal judge who in May temporarily blocked President Donald Trump's administration from spending $1 billion of military funds on U.S.-Mexico border wall construction expanded that ban to a permanent injunction.
Private border wall project continues after cease-and-desist order
A private group, We Build the Wall, raised approximately $23 million, partially on GoFundMe, to pay for its construction of an approximately 1-mile barrier on private land near the Texas-New Mexico state line over the Memorial Day weekend.
DOD doles out almost $788M in contracts, waives regs
Southwest Valley Constructors and BFBC LLC were contracted for barrier replacement in Arizona and California regions. The same day, DHS signaled its intent to waive environmental regulations delaying work on some California segments.
$187M border wall contract canceled in wake of bid protest
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has canceled a $187 million contract after Fisher Sand & Gravel protests alleged the agency’s bid qualification requirements prohibited qualified contractors from bidding, to which the agency admitted.
Pentagon directs another $1.5B toward border construction
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the amount came from accounts with a surplus and would be the last reprogramming of military funds for the wall.
12 contractors shortlisted for $5B of contracts
USACE invited the companies to bid on horizontal construction work — which includes barrier, road, lighting, levee and other improvements — under both design-build and design-bid-build contracts.
CBP seeks input on replacement of 78 miles
CBP seeks comments on how construction will impact the local environment, culture and more. If the projects are deemed critical by parent agency DHS, environmental and other regulations will likely be waived.
USACE starts prequalifying contractors for $8B of construction
The Pentagon signaled it's ready to mobilize nearly the full emergency fund amount for projects which will include wall, levee, fencing, access roads, gates, repairs and more.
USACE awards $976M of contracts using emergency funds
The first awards under the emergency declaration were SLS' $789 million fixed-price contract for barrier replacement in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, and Barnard's $187 million design-bid-build contract for primary pedestrian wall replacement in Yuma, Arizona.
Pentagon hands USACE $1B for border fencing
Out of the $6.1 billion in defense funds made available under the emergency declaration, this amount will support construction of 57 miles of fencing on the southwest border.
Trump's proposed 2020 budget seeks $8.6B from Congress
The president requested $5 billion in CBP funds for new wall construction, as well as $3.6 billion for DOD barrier construction to replace some of the defense money he's tapping into under the emergency declaration.
Prototype builder says it can work with Congress' lowball offer
Fisher Sand & Gravel Co. said it could construct 234 miles for $1.4 billion — roughly the same amount Congress offered in answer to Trump's $5.7 billion plea to cover the same distance.
Panels placed for $101M, 14-mile San Diego stretch
Just south of its 14-mile replacement of primary barrier in San Diego (see June 1, 2018), SLS started replacing secondary barrier with a similar steel bollard design.
Trump declares national emergency in goal of getting $8B
The White House said it would supplement the spending bill's roughly $1.4 billion with $601 million from the Treasury, $2.5 billion from DOD's counternarcotics funds and $3.6 billion from DOD's construction budget.
Congress approves just under $1.4B, to cover 55 miles of new barrier
Trump was unhappy with the funding deal, which was a concession for some Democrats, but subsequently signed it to reopen the government after its longest-ever, 35-day shutdown.
Border wall prototypes breached with common tools
Reports surfaced that military and CBP testers found all eight prototypes destructible and were able to cut through the steel bollard fence with a saw.
Trump prolongs shutdown in hopes of $5.7B for 'steel barrier'
The president’s funding request, to support 234 miles of wall infrastructure, was $4.1 billion more than what the Senate proposed and signalled the administration’s pivot away from “concrete wall” language.
2018: Work begins
Gate projects add to Rio Grande Valley activity
Gideon Contracting started on the first $3.7 million phase, which includes the addition of seven out of 35 automated gates to border infrastructure in the Rio Grande sector.
First new construction: 6-mile levee wall begins along Rio Grande River
SLS was contracted to build concrete wall to the height of the Hidalgo County region's existing levee, top it with 18-foot steel bollards and install surveillance technology.
DHS waives environmental regs for Texas construction
Ahead of groundbreakings, the agency moved to expedite construction of new wall in Hidalgo County to close gaps left in 2008 as well as automation of wall gates in Cameron County.
$22M, 4-mile fencing replacement starts in El Paso, Texas
West Point Contractors began replacing an existing chain link and metal fence with an 18-foot steel bollard wall.
Border wall prototypes not up to snuff, tests find
A report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, a congressional watchdog, revealed that CBP tests of 2017 prototypes presented constructability challenges and did not take into consideration the varying topographies along the border.
$147M, 14-mile replacement gets underway in San Diego
SLS Co. started substituting 14 miles of scrap metal wall with a bollard design, raising the height of the barrier from roughly 8-10 feet to 18-30 feet topped by anti-climbing plate.
$73M, 20-mile replacement starts in Santa Teresa, New Mexico
Barnard Construction began building a 18-to-30-foot bollard wall and making roadway and drainage improvements nearby, despite attempts by activists to stall the project with legal action after DHS waived environmental reviews.
Border work kicks off with small but high-priority Calexico replacement
The administration's first contract award went to SWF Constructors to install a 30-foot steel bollard wall in place of roughly 2 miles of barrier made up of scrap metal and Vietnam-era landing pads.
2017: A campaign promise takes shape
4 companies picked to build border wall prototypes
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) picked Caddell Construction, Fisher Sand & Gravel/DBA Fisher Industries, Texas Sterling Construction and W.G. Yates & Sons Construction out of more than 200 companies.
Army Corps starts preconstruction work on US–Mexico border wall
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) started drilling and testing soil samples to determine which types of walls would work best at different points along the border.
Report reveals new cost, plans for Trump's Mexico border wall
A U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report said a combination of fences and walls would cost nearly $22 billion, compared to the $12 billion figure Trump cited on the campaign trail, and would take more than three years to construct.