On Wednesday, President Donald Trump issued his first executive order on immigration and border security. According to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, the order will set in motion Trump's plans to build a wall along the border of the United States and Mexico. The wall was a campaign promise that Trump brought up frequently while running for president, but many Americans questioned just how feasible a large border wall would be. Now that it actually seems to be happening, many are wondering how long it would take to build Trump's wall, how expensive it could be, and what it might mean for relations between the neighboring countries.
"This is border security. We've been talking about this from the beginning. This is going to bring it over the top," Trump said on Wednesday, according to CNN. He held up the signed executive order, which reportedly focused on building the wall and on increasing both border patrol forces, and the quantity of illegal immigrants being deported.
So when will the wall's construction start? "As soon as we can, as soon as we can physically do it," Trump told ABC, according to The Independent. "I would say in months, yeah. I would say in months – certainly planning is starting immediately."
Trump also said that taxpayers would be fronting the bill for the wall, but that Mexico would later repay those funds. "All it is, is we'll be reimbursed at a later date from whatever transaction we make from Mexico," he told reporters. "I'm just telling you there will be a payment. It will be in a form, perhaps a complicated form. What I'm doing is good for the United States. It's also going to be good for Mexico. We want to have a very stable, very solid Mexico."
The president did not, however, lay out a plan on how the wall will be constructed or when Americans can expect the barrier to be finished. According to experts who spoke to Politifact last year, however, the planning period (which would include surveying land and designing the wall) would likely take at least a year. That would then have to be followed by a land bidding period and possible environmental and hydrological studies. Finally, after that, border wall construction could actually start.
If the government put unlimited money and supplies towards building the wall, they might get it completed in five to ten years, according to estimates by Raul Meza, state director for the Structural Engineer’s Association of Texas. Most experts agreed, however, that it would take years to complete the wall. (The existing 700 miles of fencing currently lining the border took over six years to build, according to Politifact.)
Even without an unlimited supply of cash and supplies put towards the wall, taxpayers can expect to pay up to $40 billion for the border wall, according to estimates by MIT Technology Review.
Regardless of the economic and time barriers, however, it looks like Trump is moving forward with his promise to build a wall. Whether he can get it done before his presidency comes to an end, however, remains to be seen.