The border wall cost is becoming a matter of discussion as Congress approaches funding discussion deadline. April 28 is the last date for approving a spending bill that will fund federal agencies that otherwise would be shut down. Therefore the request for $1.5 extra funds this year to finance the initial phase of wall construction along the Mexican border might be turned down.
The extra budget could be considered at a later time. Democrats had already threatened to block the new funding bill until September if money for the wall were included.
Apparently, the White House can live with it.
The Interior Secretary Comes to the Forefront
In the meantime, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke takes on the leadership of the project. He starts delineating some key aspects of the project and clarifies that the project is essential. One of the issues is where to place the wall when the border flows at the center of the Rio Grande or the Colorado rivers.
In this case, electronic measures might be more indicated. In fact, the US is not willing to build the wall on its own territory leaving the whole rivers to Mexico. And it is unlikely that Mexico would allow it to be built on its own territory. Furthermore, a 1970 treaty with Mexico requires that anything built near the Rio Grande river not obstruct its flow. The rivers account for half of the 2,000-mile MS-Mexico border.
This was already expected and indeed the wall won’t cover the whole of the border, but only those areas which would benefit from it.
Some Real Obstacles That Need to Be Overcome
Yet there are still some obstacles that need to be overcome.
Nearly all of the land along the Texas border is privately held and buying their land won’t be easy, as Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama already discovered. Lawyers for both administrations fought in court with private landowners and the Trump administration is preparing for the legal fight and has requested for more lawyers to handle such cases.
Customs and Border Protection states that an effective wall should be 18 to 30 feet high and 6 feet underground to block tunnels. It should be difficult to climb or breach and be “aesthetically pleasing” on the U.S. side.
In some situations, such a wall would split existing resorts which extend on both sides of the border. This creates opposition from the locals who would rather see more electronic equipment and maybe some drones.
The border reality though indicates that a physical barrier might be needed. With stronger enforcement efforts, the people trying to cross the border illegally have become more aggressive.
Additionally, the wall construction would create more jobs and it would also reduce the death rate of the people who try to make it across to the USA today.
The federal government controls less than a third of the southern border. The rest belongs to the states, Native American tribes, or is privately owned. An important part of the expense will be in the acquisition of the land and in the legal cases connected with it. We can see why the White House is not interested in rushing the matter through Congress.