Wall Street Journal
By Laura Meckler
March 20, 2017
WASHINGTON—The Trump administration provided details on its request for $3 billion in immigration enforcement spending for this year, telling Congress on Monday that the new funding will pay for some additional fencing and a combination levee and wall system in the Rio Grande Valley area.
According to the proposal, it will cost between $18 million and $24 million for each mile of additional barriers along the border with Mexico, meaning that it would cost billions of dollars to erect barriers along the entire border.
A previously reported internal Department of Homeland Security estimate put the cost of erecting additional barriers along the border at about $21 billion.
Last week, administration officials asked Congress for $3 billion in immigration funding for fiscal year 2017, including $1.5 billion for additional border-security measures. That includes beginning work on President Donald Trump’s promised wall along the southern U.S. border. He proposed even more for next year’s budget.
The fate of the supplemental 2017 spending will be the first sign as to whether Congress is prepared to go along with Mr. Trump’s vision for an expensive wall along the border. There is resistance from some who live and work on the border, including Republican supporters of Mr. Trump in Texas and Arizona, who have said a contiguous wall is impractical because of varied terrain, private land ownership, the challenges of building along a river and other factors.
On Monday, more details emerged about the Trump plan. According to a congressional official, the administration is asking for 20 miles of new wall construction, including 14 miles in the San Diego area and 6 miles in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas, area. The San Diego stretch, estimated at $251 million would cost nearly $18 million per mile. The Texas stretch, at $146 million, would cost $24 million per mile.
The administration is also asking for a new levee-wall system over a 28-mile stretch in the Rio Grande Valley, which would cost nearly a half-billion dollars alone, or just under $18 million per mile. The entire Texas portion of the border is marked by the Rio Grande River.
Finally, the administration is asking for 14 miles of replacement fence in the San Diego area, at $102 million, or about $7 million per mile.
The rest of the administration’s request would pay for surveillance technology, such as new integrated fixed towers, and for road construction.
Administration officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Throughout his presidential campaign, Mr. Trump promised that Mexico would pay for the wall, something Mexico has repeatedly said it won’t do. Since then, Mr. Trump has said the U.S. will pay upfront and Mexico will reimburse the costs later, a scenario few in Congress see as realistic.
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