Amidst calls to ‘Lock her up!’ and chants promising to ‘Drain the swamp’, one of Donald Trump’s most vocal and repeated soundbites of his campaign threatened to ‘Build the wall’.
“Mark my words,” he said, as his campaign kicked off, “I will build a great wall” – before adding that he expected Mexico to front the cash for it.
But, today, the construction of Trump’s “big beautiful wall” seems even more distant than that of its Chinese equivalent. With looming threats of a government shutdown, an escalating Mexican-American diplomatic crisis and spiralling budgets for the project, all of the fiscal policies President Trump ran on are being called into question. And, towering above them all, is the wall.
Mark my words,” he said, as his campaign kicked off, “I will build a great wall
At a recent briefing, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney explained that Trump would be signing a spending bill that avoids the shutdown. However, this would not include funding to build the wall along the southern United States border with Mexico. Instead, it created $1.5 billion for additional border security in general – not even a dent in the officially projected $12 billion for the wall.
Despite Trump’s frequent argument to the contrary, the absence of this 2,000 mile thorn-in-his-side in the spending bill has led many to believe that the wall, rather than being a functioning structure, will rather be a symbolic gesture.
Many to believe that the wall, rather than being a functioning structure, will rather be a symbolic gesture
At the end of May, the President’s budget request for the 2018 fiscal year will be revealed. This document, which will determine how money is spent from October onwards, will reportedly include a request for money to build the wall, which the President claims is now one of his top priorities.
According to Angela Kelley, one of the Open Society Policy centre’s senior strategic advisors for immigration, this request may crumble. Kelley has said, “at a minimum, there’s just no appetite for [the wall]” and, at worst, she argued that this lack of appetite was quickly becoming “an allergy”.
Despite this, Trump has said that “nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I build them very inexpensively.” His estimates allegedly claim that the cost of the wall will be $10bn (£7.5bn) to $12bn. But many estimates suggest that the final bill could be much higher, with some experts citing unforeseeable complications as reasons that the figure could hit $25 billion.
But, despite the fractious argument over costs, many are far more interested by the question of timescale. Namely, when will Trump’s wall be built?
And this is a trickier question to answer. An internal Department of Homeland Security report printed by Reuters forecasted that the wall would take three-and-a-half years to build once – or if – construction begins. The report went on to outline the three phases of construction, including the erection of preliminary fences and building the final, permanent wall.
So, regardless of whether you are still chanting “Build the wall!” or are already begging Trump to tear it down, it’s safe to say the argument about the wall is showing few signs of crumbling.