- The real cost of President Donald Trump’s border wall with Mexico runs in the billions, but estimates widely vary.
- The border wall is part of a series of costly acts by the Trump administration that are meant to deter Mexican immigration.
- Besides billions in construction costs, the wall will also cost in terms of trade and international relations.
Long before the 2016 presidential election, President Donald Trump advocated for a massive border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. The main purpose of the wall’s construction is to stem undocumented, illegal immigration into the U.S. by Mexican citizens.
Since his election, the project has gained steam, with several government officials and departments providing analysis into how much it would cost to build the wall. The results have been quite mixed. Keep reading to find out how much Trump’s border plans might cost you.
The Real Cost of Trump’s Border Wall on Your Wallet
Trump claimed that the cost would only amount to $12 billion. But even that amount isn’t that low when contrasted with the $2.3 billion spent on physical barriers for the entire period between fiscal years 2007 to 2015. Plus, an internal report by the Department of Homeland Security estimated the cost of the wall to be much higher at about $21.6 billion, and even that could be an underestimation, according to the Brookings Institution.
According to a report by the Government Accountability Office, the DHS report didn’t provide enough comprehensive analysis to convey the true cost of the wall and its inefficiency, which will ultimately cost the American taxpayer.
Here’s a breakdown of construction cost estimates according to various sources:
- President Trump: $12 billion
- House Speaker Paul Ryan: $15 billion
- Department of Homeland Security: $22 billion
- The Washington Post: $25 billion
- Senate Democrats: $70 billion
Besides the cost of the physical construction of the wall, there also is all the paperwork. For example, there are legal fees that must be paid in order to acquire the land where the wall is going to be constructed. Even after acquisition, the U.S. government still has to compensate the former owner, which will raise the total bill on the construction of the border wall.
Then there is the economic cost of the wall beyond the immediate acquisition of land, legal fees and construction. Mexico is America’s third-largest trading partner. Foreign-born workers in the U.S. account for about 16 percent of the labor force as of August 2017, and they frequently work in key domestic businesses like automotive manufacturing. In addition, foreign-born workers still actually contribute to the U.S. Social Security fund. In 2010, according to the Brookings Institution, undocumented workers contributed $13 billion to Social Security.
At this point, the exact cost of the proposed wall for U.S. taxpayers is unknown, but there are tangible hints at the price. For instance, according to CNN, eight prototype walls have been constructed as of May 2018, with a cost between $300,000 and $500,000 each. The people footing the bill to protect the prototypes, San Diego taxpayers, have shelled out at least about $2.3 million to support the cost.
A more speculative calculation can be conducted based on previous news estimates. For example, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, if the cost of the wall were a projected $15 billion, it’d cost about $120 per household based on Census data of U.S. households as of January 2017. Now, based on that ratio and a projected cost of $22 billion, as the DHS suggests, that would work out to $176 per household. The highest projected estimate, $70 billion, would cost American households about $560 in tax dollars.
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