Past border-wall costs instructive
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — President Donald Trump is not giving up on his demand for $5.7 billion to build a wall along the U.s.-mexico border, saying a physical barrier is central to any strategy for addressing the security and humanitarian crisis at the southern border.
Democrats argue that funding the construction of a steel barrier along 234 miles will not solve the problems. A 2018 government report warns of increased risks that the U.S. wall-building program will cost more than projected, take longer than planned and not perform as expected.
Walls and fencing now cover about one-third of the 1,954-mile-long border. Some construction began during the administration of President Bill Clinton in the early 1990s, George W. Bush ramped up the effort in 2006, and Barack Obama built more than 130 miles, mostly during his first year in office.
Between 2007 and 2015, U.S. Customs and Border Protection spent $2.4 billion to add 535 miles of pedestrian and vehicle barriers and other infrastructure along the border.
Trump wants to extend and fortify what’s already in place. But contracting, designing and building new wall systems that have updated technology could take years, and experience has shown that such work can be complicated and costly.
Here is how much the government has spent on barriers in the states along the border:
Much of California’s 141 miles of border with Mexico was fenced during the Bush administration through a security measure that won congressional approval and had support from key Democrats.
In 2009, the federal government spent about $16 million a mile on a 3.5-mile stretch in San Diego, using about 2 million tons of dirt to fill in a canyon known as Smuggler’s Gulch. The earthen dam was then topped with layers of fencing.
At the Imperial Sand Dunes, the U.S. built a floating fence of 16-foothigh steel tubes that can be raised or lowered as the sands shift. The $6 million-a-mile barrier cuts through a filming location for “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” that resembles the Sahara.
Both are examples of some of the rugged territory along the border that