Trump marks completion of 450 miles of border wall construction
By Jenny LescohierJanuary 13, 2021
When Donald J. Trump was elected president in 2016, the U.S.-Mexico border wall was a top, although contentious, priority for his administration. Where does the project stand now?
On Jan. 12, in likely his last official presidential engagement, Trump visited the city of Alamo, Texas, located in the Rio Grande Valley, to mark the completion of more than 450 miles of wall construction. That section of the border is said to be the busiest corridor for human smuggling among the Border Patrol’s nine sectors.
The Department of Homeland Security’s internal estimate in early 2017, shortly after Trump took office, was that his proposed border wall would cost $21.6 billion and take 3.5 years to build. Since then, reports say the price tag has increased by billions.
The border wall, which Trump repeatedly cited over the last four years as an accomplishment, became a symbol of the President’s anti-immigration policies.
During a brief speech near the wall, reports say Trump listed off a series of those policies, including requiring asylum seekers to wait in Mexico until their immigration court date in the U.S., and swiftly removing migrants arriving at the southern border under a public health order.
President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to undo Trump’s policies and halt construction of the border wall, a move Trump warned against.
“We can’t let the next administration even think about taking (the border wall) down, if you can believe that,” Trump was quoted by CNN. “I don’t think that will happen. I think when you see what it does and how it’s so important to our country nobody’s going to be touching it.”
Most of the approximately 453 miles of wall are sections that replace old, deteriorating barriers with what reports say is a new enhanced wall system that’s significantly different from the fencing previously constructed in some regions. Forty-seven miles have gone up where no barriers previously existed, according to Customs and Border Protection.
In its final days, the Trump White House continues to push relevant federal agencies to obligate funds available for the wall regardless of whether land has been obtained for construction, according to CNN.
Customs and Border Protection has reported it’s pressing forward on awarding border wall contracts, including in areas where private land hasn’t been acquired, an unusual move that will complicate Biden’s pledge to halt construction.
In his speech on Tuesday, Trump claimed the wall has made significant strides in limiting illegal immigration to the U.S. “In every region that we’ve built the wall, illegal crossings and drug smuggling have plummeted. Absolutely plummeted,” he stated. “In the Rio Grande Valley, crossings have dropped nearly 80%. In Yuma, Arizona, illegal entries have been slashed by 90%. Nationwide, ICE and Border Patrol have seized over 2 million pounds of fentanyl, heroin, meth, and other deadly narcotics, saving thousands and thousands of lives.”
Biden stated in August that “there will not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration.”