Trump: US-Mexico border wall could be built for $15B or less
- President Donald Trump told those gathered for the 2018 Project Safe Neighborhoods National Conference last week that the U.S. could build a border wall between itself and Mexico for as little as $15 billion — possibly even less — without sacrificing quality.
- In remarks during his speech that covered other topics as well, the president said that almost all of the heroin entering the country comes through the U.S.-Mexico border, and that it cost the U.S. $238 billion in 2016. Given that figure, Trump said a “proper wall” could pay for itself in a month.
- The president also told those in attendance at the Kansas City, Missouri, event that "illegal immigration is a threat to the well-being of every American community, threatening innocent families, overwhelming public resources, and draining the federal treasury." He added that Congress was “playing games” with border security and that providing money "for [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] officers, ICE attorneys, border agents, detention beds, equipment, technology and [a] lifesaving border wall" in the year-end funding bill is critical.
Construction of a wall/barrier along the full length of the U.S.-Mexico border was at the forefront of Trump’s campaign in 2016 but ended up taking a backseat to other issues like healthcare and tax reform during the president’s first year in office. Congress has not been inclined to give the administration more than a few billion dollars at a time for border wall construction.
In the last spending bill, Congress allocated $1.6 billion for wall projects, but Trump is looking for $5 billion this time around and has threatened a shutdown if his administration and lawmakers can’t come to an agreement.
But the government did win a legal victory over border wall challengers recently. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of a lower court ruling that upheld the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to waive more than 30 environmental regulations for San Diego-area sections of the wall. California U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel decided that the DHS was acting within its authority when it waived the regulations and that the move was not unconstitutional.
Meanwhile wall, gate and barrier construction — and replacement — continues, mostly in Texas and Arizona. U.S. Customs and Border Protection handed out more than $630 million in border wall contracts in November alone.
Follow Kim Slowey on Twitter