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Border wallDHS has found only $20 million of the $21 billion needed for border wall

Published 2 March 2017

President Donald Trump’s pledge to use existing funds to launch the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border has run into an obstacle: There is only little money available to start the project. DHS has identified only $20 million that can be reallocated to the $21 billion project. DHS searched for available funds only within its $376 million budget for border security fencing, infrastructure and technology. Redirecting funds from other departmental accounts would require congressional approval. The funds currently available would cover 0.1 percent of the project’s cost — or pay to build 2.5 miles of border barrier.

An attempt to block border crossing at water's edge // Source: theconversation.com

Documents obtained by Reuter show that President Donald Trump’s pledge to use existing funds to launch the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border show that there is a problem: There is only little money available to start the project. The executive order issued by Trump in January envisioned the rapid start of the construction of the wall to be financed with “existing funds and resources” of DHS.

Fox News reports that so far, the DHS has identified only $20 million that can be reallocated to the multi-billion-dollar project. The document was prepared last week by DHS and distributed to congressional budget staff.

The document highlights the fact that the available funds would be sufficient to cover a few contracts for wall prototypes, but would be insufficient to begin construction of an actual barrier. Thus, for the wall project to move forward, Congress would have to appropriate the necessary funds.

An earlier DHS internal report, also obtained by Reuters, estimated that building a wall or a fence along the entire border would cost $21.6 billion — $9.3 million per mile of fence, and $17.8 million per mile of wall.

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan has said that funding for a border wall in the budget for next fiscal year. He has estimated the cost to be between $12 billion and $15 billion.

Many Republican lawmakers have said they would vote against a plan that does not offset the cost of the wall with spending cuts.

In the document it submitted to Congress, the DHS said it would reallocate $5 million from a fence project in Naco, Arizona, which was completed under budget, and $15 million from a project to install cameras on top of trucks at the border.

That project was awarded to Virginia-based Tactical Micro, but was held up as a result of protests from other contractors.

Fox News notes that the DHS searched for available funds only within its $376 million budget for border security fencing, infrastructure and technology. If DHS were to look for funds in other departmental accounts, it would have to ask for congressional approval to repurpose the funds.

Contractors will start bidding on contracts to develop wall or fence prototypes on 6 March, and more than 265 companies already have listed themselves as “interested parties” on a government website.