- President Donald Trump signed an executive order for the construction of a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.
- The order directs federal funds to the Department of Homeland Security in order to begin construction on the wall and repair existing fences along the border. It has not yet been revealed where the funds will come from, The New York Times reported.
- Trump has previously estimated the cost of the wall at approximately $8 billion. However, some experts say the true project cost could end up between $15 billion and $40 billion.
Details for the wall construction remain unclear, as officials have yet to reveal the exact length of the project and settle environmental concerns along the wall's route. Funding sources are also in question, as Trump pledged during his campaign that Mexico would pay for the wall's construction. He has since said that federal funds will pay up front, and Mexico will pay later — a claim refuted by Mexican officials.
Still, construction companies are eyeing the potential project, which is under the purview of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In the week following Trump's election, construction and engineering stocks skyrocketed in response to his administration's promises to boost infrastructure spending and take on the massive border wall project.
Trump's border wall and strict immigration proposals have the potential to negatively impact the construction industry in a different area: workforce. Amid a crippling labor shortage, some builders fear that a crackdown on undocumented immigrants — estimated to represent up to 20% of construction workers in the U.S. — would further exacerbate the tight labor market.
The Associated General Contractors of America and other construction groups have long warned of the shrinking labor pool. The organization has supported immigration policies that serve as alternatives to deportation, such as the expansion of the H-2B visa program, the creation of a new guest-worker visa program and a path to citizenship for some workers.