The Border Wall: Q&A
The President’s 2019 budget proposal has just been sent to Congress and includes a request for $18 billion to build a wall along the southern border of the United States. In addition, it includes $2.7 billion to detain up to 52,000 undocumented immigrants and $782 million to hire 2,750 customs and immigration agents.
Q: Is Mexico going to help pay for the wall?
A: No. The President first vowed to build the border wall when he announced his presidential candidacy in 2015. “I’ll build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I’ll have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words,” Trump said. Since then, Mexico has made it clear that it will not be paying for the border wall. The President will need to secure funding from Congress to make the project a reality.
Q: How long is the southern border with Mexico?
A: The southern border is about 2,000 miles long and stretches across four states – California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas.
Q: Are there already barriers along the southern border?
A: Currently, 653 miles of the southern border are already protected by barriers, which means 1,317 miles of the border lacks a wall or fencing. Keep in mind, however, the Rio Grande forms a natural border along many of those miles, and what remains is generally inhospitable terrain.
Q: How long will the proposed border wall be?
A: Although the border between the United States and Mexico stretches nearly 2,000 miles, the White House only plans on constructing a wall about half that length. According to the President, a 2,000-mile wall is not necessary. “You’ll need anywhere from 700 to 900 miles,” Trump said.
Q: How much will it cost to build the border wall?
A: The White House is asking for $1.6 billion to build 74 miles of border wall in 2018, and $18 billion to construct 722 additional miles of new or replacement wall over the next 10 years. Current prototypes of the wall measure 30 feet high and 30 feet wide and cost roughly $500,000 to make.
Q: Is building the wall legal?
A: Technically, if the President can secure funding, building the border wall is perfectly legal. Of course, there are environmental concerns that have been raised and are currently being battled over in the court system. Early proposals include constructing barriers on local, state and federal lands that have been protected from development, and there is a concern that building a wall could negatively impact local ecosystems. In addition, challengers are arguing that the Trump administration violated the law by ignoring various environmental laws in order to expedite construction.
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