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Exclusive: Border ‘Wall’ To Cost $21.6 Billion, Take 3.5 Years To Build

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Exclusive: Border ‘Wall’ To Cost $21.6 Billion, Take 3.5 Years To Build


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s “wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border would be a series of fences and walls that would cost as much as $21.6 billion, and take more than three years to construct, based on a U.S. Department of Homeland Security internal report seen by Reuters on Thursday.

The report’s estimated price-tag is much higher than a $12-billion figure cited by Trump in his campaign and estimates as high as $15 billion from Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The report is expected to be presented to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly in coming days, although the administration will not necessarily take actions it recommends.

The plan lays out what it would take to seal the border in three phases of construction of fences and walls covering just over 1,250 miles (2,000 km) by the end of 2020.

With 654 miles (1,046 km) of the border already fortified, the new construction would extend almost the length of the entire border.

Many cost estimates and timelines have been floated since Trump campaigned on the promise of building a wall. The report seen by Reuters is the work of a group commissioned by Kelly as a final step before moving forward with requesting U.S. taxpayer funds from Congress and getting started on construction.

A DHS spokeswoman said the department does “not comment on or confirm the potential existence of pre-decisional, deliberative documents.”

A White House spokeswoman said it would be “premature” to comment on a report that has not officially been presented to the president.

The report said the first phase would be the smallest, targeting sections covering 26 miles (42 km) near San Diego, California; El Paso, Texas; and in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley.

The report assumes DHS would get funding from Congress by April or May, giving the department sufficient time to secure contractors and begin construction by September. Trump has said Congress should fund the wall upfront, but that Mexico will reimburse U.S. taxpayers. Mexico has said it will not pay.

Several U.S. congressional delegations are visiting the border this month to assess funding needs, according to several people familiar with the travel plans.

The report shows the U.S. government has begun seeking waivers to address environmental laws on building in some areas. It also shows the government has begun working with existing contractors and planning steel purchases for the project.

Trump told law enforcement officials on Wednesday, “The wall is getting designed right now.”

The report accounted for the time and cost of acquiring private land, one reason for its steep price increase compared to estimates from Trump and members of Congress.

Bernstein Research, an investment research group that tracks material costs, has said that uncertainties around the project could drive its cost up to as much as $25 billion.

The second phase of construction proposed in the report would cover 151 miles (242 km) of border in and around the Rio Grande Valley; Laredo, Texas; Tucson, Arizona; El Paso, Texas and Big Bend, Texas. The third phase would cover an unspecified 1,080 miles (1,728 km), essentially sealing off the entire U.S.-Mexico border.


The report lays out costs to cover the border with barriers, but funding constraints and legal battles are likely to place limits on those plans.

It also does not account for major physical barriers, like mountains, in areas where it would not be feasible to build.

A source familiar with the plans said DHS may have to go to court to seek eminent domain in order to acquire some of the private land needed to cover the final and most ambitious phase.

The first phase, estimated to cost only $360 million, could be a relatively easy way for Trump to satisfy supporters eager to see him make good on his campaign promises to limit illegal migration. But the rest of the construction will be markedly more expensive, covering a much larger stretch of land, much of it privately owned or inaccessible by road.

In addition to seeking eminent domain and environmental waivers, the U.S. government would also have to meet the requirements of the International Boundary and Water Commission, a U.S.-Mexico pact over shared waters. The report estimated that agreement alone could bring the cost from $11 million per mile to $15 million per mile in one area.

(Reporting by Julia Edwards Ainsley; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Alistair Bell)

IMAGE: A Donald Trump for President campaign sticker is shown attached to a U.S. Customs sign hanging on the border fence between Mexico and the United States near Calexico, California, U.S. February 8, 2017. Picture taken February 8, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake



  1. joeg2028 February 10, 2017

    One way to put a damper on this insanity would be for people to stop paying federal income taxes, not that I’m advocating such a thing. It just seems that, logically, if there are fewer taxes raised, the bright minds in Congress might say, “Hey, we’re not going to fund that folly. Good golly!!”

    Of course, another way to put a damper on that insanity would be to get rid of the insane Orange One in the Oval Office. That would be a more permanent solution–and better for the country in innumerable ways.

    1. Dominick Vila February 10, 2017

      I second that motion, but it won’t work. The GOP is the party of deficit spending, unfunded crusades, and when the effects of their fiscal irresponsibility becomes reality and the national debt skyrockets, they blame Democrats for the effects of their follies.

      1. joeg2028 February 10, 2017

        Hey, Dominic, thanks for your thoughtful response. But I’m shocked, shocked, shocked that you say those ‘pub legislators are deficit spenders.

        They keep telling us that they want smaller government, AND they wouldn’t support BHO’s requests for $$ to repair our ailing infrastructure.

        Are you trying to tell me that they’ll behave differently when PDJT asks for money to BUILD A WALL with Mexico and for money to REBUILD the infrastructure???

        I am hard-pressed to take statement seriously. Surely, those ‘pubs are people of their word!!

        1. Dominick Vila February 10, 2017

          They will behave the same way they always have. They talk a good time, and do a great job at pretending to be fiscally responsible…until it is their time to govern. When that happens, deficits skyrocket, borrowing is the norm, and the effects of their largess is felt for years in the form of out of control increases of the national debt.

          1. I Am Helpy February 11, 2017

            You left out the part where unemployment soars under every Republican President.

          2. Dominick Vila February 11, 2017

            …and inflation, and interest rates, usually go up.

    2. I Am Helpy February 11, 2017

      Trump is already floating the idea of “punishing” California – by far the largest and most profitable component of the US economy – by withholding federal funding. If they stopped giving money to Washington – or worse yet seceded – all of Trump’s delusional projects would immediately evaporate (followed shortly thereafter by the US itself).

      1. dpaano February 16, 2017

        I agree….if we refused to send our tax money to the U.S., 45 will be quickly out of luck. California pays a great deal of federal income taxes, and we support much of the south with our tax money!!! If we suddenly stopped sending it to the U.S., this country would be in a world of hurt! AND, if Texas got mad enough to do the same…..wow, that would be interesting!

    3. dpaano February 16, 2017

      I like your second idea better, and I think it might be the easier route to take! Like you, however, I will refuse to pay my taxes if 45 insists on using my hard-earned money for his stupid fantasy!

  2. yabbed February 10, 2017

    Middle class taxes are going up bigly. So sad but they bought it on themselves.

  3. bobnstuff February 10, 2017

    I wonder if they figured in the cost of gold plating it and putting the Trump name on every section. With Trump involved the cost will jump to $63 Billion just like every other Trump project but Trump will cut costs by not paying some of the contractors.

    1. dpaano February 16, 2017

      And, if he thinks the hard-working taxpayers are going to enjoy seeing their money going for his stupid wall, he’s totally insane!!! Mexico is NOT going to pay for the wall no matter how hard 45 wishes it would be so! He’s doing his usual real estate BS…..get the thing built and then stiff the contractors! Only, this time, it’ll be the American taxpayers who are going to get stiffed! And the best part is that he’ll blame it all on the Mexican Government….you know, the one that has told him time and time again that they would NOT pay for the wall!!!

  4. I Am Helpy February 11, 2017

    The headline leaves out the part where it’s physically impossible and wouldn’t actually work.

    1. Dominick Vila February 11, 2017

      Even if it is built, it will not stop those determined to enter the USA. Taller ladders, tunnels, boats, or simply traveling to Canada and entering via our Northern border would be some of the options for us desperate enough to seek a better life in the USA. Having said all that, future generations will marvel touring The Wall, and what is symbolizes, the same way millions of people have visited the Great Wall of China, and some take pictures of the few relics left of the Berlin Wall.

      1. dpaano February 16, 2017

        It would be called “The Great Wall of Trump.” He’ll be thrilled if his name is on it in gold also!!!

        1. ivory69690@yahoo.com February 21, 2017

          more like it and better fitting the clowns name in at the bottom of the wall and in coal DONNY DUMP KING CLOWN

    2. dpaano February 16, 2017

      So true….do they think that eminent domain is going to make the ranchers along the border give up their land? That is totally ridiculous….and, there’s also the Rio Grande River that would be difficult to build a wall along, especially when the border runs right down the middle of it! That should be interesting!

  5. ivory69690@yahoo.com February 12, 2017

    DONNY DUMP is a hypocrite in the fullest line of all his BULL CRAP. his hair-bag wife is an illegal alien and she is the same illegal immigrant with a criminal record . she lied when she was in the STATES on her VISA pass . and the truth the DUNNY DUMP DUMPSTER him self should be charge with aiding and abetting she as a criminal (as the DUMPSTER AIDING HER MAKES HIM A CRIMINAL ALSO . where’s the GOP gang of pinhead’s on bring to the floor an investigation on that pair that swing from the back of a bull ? not only are thy both criminal’s and law breakers . you can bet that the DUMPSTER hjas been holding that over his HAIR BAG wife’s head from the time she started being this illegal criminal immigrant alien . and still to this day an investigation can still be done there’s no statue of limitations on that law of her (and the DUMPSTER lying about her status of and whys and what’s of her being in this country . come on all the reporters DO YOUR JOBS and put these things in the news show the DONNY DUMP DUMPSTER FOR THE ILLEGAL LYING HIPERCRITE HE IS he has broke the law and is an exterior to the crime of aiding and abetting the entering to the USA of an illegal immigrant criminal alien . it should and has to work on her and him . the law is the law no matter who you are even if you might be the star of THE DONNY DUMP CLOWN SHOW

  6. dpaano February 16, 2017

    Building this wall is about as stupid as building the “bullet train” in California that no one actually needs or wants! We have bridges and dams falling apart, but our leaders want to spend money on stupid things! What the border needs is more technology; i.e., drones, cameras, sensors, border patrol agents, and big, bad dogs!!! Plus the fact that fewer immigrants are coming across the border lately…..after all, who would want to come to a country run by a bunch of idiots? Just saying….


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