When President Trump signed his executive order on Wednesday to start construction on his border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, one of the big questions was where the money will come from. Trump has long promised he will somehow get Mexico to pay for building the wall, though he has recently switched to promising Mexico will reimburse U.S. taxpayers. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto reiterated on Wednesday that Mexico will do no such thing. On MSNBC Wednesday evening, House Speaker Paul Ryan said taxpayers will foot the bill, at least for now, and agreed it will cost them billions.
"Well, first off, we're going to pay for it and front the money up," he told Greta Van Susteren. "There are a lot of different ways of getting Mexico to contribute to doing this, and there are different ways to defining how exactly they pay for it. Point is, he has a promise he made to the American people, which is to secure our border — a wall is a big part of that. We agree with that goal, and we will be working with him to finance construction of the physical barrier, including the wall, on the southern border."
"The law is already on the books — I voted for it like 10 years ago — but nothing has gotten done, and now we have a president who actually wants to secure the border," Ryan said. "I think a lot of people want to secure the border, on both sides of the aisles," Van Susteren said, "but the estimates are $8 billion to $14 billion..." "That's about right," Ryan agreed.
The 2006 law Ryan is referring to, the Secure Fence Act, authorized the construction of 700 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border, and the Bush and Obama administrations built along 652 of those miles; Congress would not only have to appropriate the money — an independent study estimated the cost at up to $25 billion — but also authorize construction of more barriers. The U.S. has already spent more than $7 billion on border fencing, and not only will a new wall add significantly to those costs, the roads built to construct the wall may well help drug and human traffickers experts say will find ways to circumvent any wall, anyway.