Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has commissioned a study on the costs to build President Trump's border wall with Mexico, Reuters reports, and the group has already come up with a ballpark figure for building fences and walls along the entire border: $21.6 billion. That's significantly higher than the $12 billion Trump estimated in his campaign, and the approximately $15 billion touted by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Trump says U.S. taxpayers will foot the bill and Mexico will reimburse America; Mexico has no plans to do so.
The report, which Reuters saw on Thursday, has not yet been presented to Kelly, and the Trump administration may not follow its recommendations. Its price tag is closer to the $25 billion cost estimate from investment research group Bernstein Research.
The Trump White House has already started planning to build the wall, with the expectation that Congress will approve funding in April or May. DHS has reportedly begun seeking environmental waivers to build in some sensitive parts of the border, worked up steel orders, and reached out to existing contractors. The report envisions three phases, starting with a $360 million section near San Diego, El Paso, and in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. The next phase would tackle 151 miles around the Rio Grande Valley, Laredo, Big Bend National Park, and Tucson; and the final phase would cover the last 1,080 miles of border. The wall would be finished by 2020, according to the plan.
Along with the costs of materials, road building, and labor, the government would have to expend millions using eminent domain to acquire private land along the border, and some areas would present costly geographical challenges.