Trump gets $1.6 billion for border wall


The House of Representatives on Thursday passed a $658-billion defense bill which includes $1.6 billion earmarked for President Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall. Five Republicans joined the Democrats to vote against the proposal.

Around half of the wall budget ($784 million) will be used to erect 32 miles of “new border bollard fencing” in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas. Another $498 million will fund the construction of 28 miles of levee wall in the same area while $251 million will be used to replace 14 miles of secondary fencing in San Diego, California.

“Every single dime the president requested to start building a wall on our southern border, he’s going to get,” warned House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) while House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) stressed that the funds would greatly assist our law-enforcement agencies.

“[They] are asking for this help to stem the tide of drugs, illegal gangs, drug cartels, and we are simply still being overrun on the Texas border, among other places. And we are going to do something about it,” he said on Wednesday.

The border already boasts some 350 miles of pedestrian fencing while vehicle barriers help protect an additional 300-mile stretch. Customs and Border Protection Acting Deputy Commissioner Ronald Vitiello said last month that 130 miles of the border – or seven percent of the almost 2,000-mile-long frontier – would not need any enhancements because various natural barriers already represented effective deterrents to illegal border crossings.

Throughout the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump pledged to build a wall along the nation’s southern border to stop illegal immigration and drug trafficking. Border Patrol reported a total of 408,870 apprehensions last year.

Five weeks ago the president suggested that the wall could serve a dual purpose if it was fitted with solar panels. A solar-installation firm actually estimated that a barrier including 10-foot-high solar panels would produce over seven gigawatt-hours (7 GWh) of electricity each day, enough to power 220,000 average-size homes.

Early in his presidency, Mr. Trump instructed the Department of Homeland Security to come up with a proposal to build a wall along the entire border with Mexico. The project attracted the interest of some 600 U.S. companies.

Since FY 2005, the U.S. has spent in excess of $130 billion on border security including drones, helicopters, fencing, surveillance cameras, and ground sensors. Thousands of additional agents were also hired to make the border more secure.