Past Features

August 1, 2015

Multiplying the cost of Trump's border fence

Construction of final three miles of fence near San Diego involved massive earth movement and construction of expensive retaining and erosion control devices. See larger image
CNN -- July 31, 2015   
Trump's immigration plan would cost hundreds of billions of dollars
    Donald Trump is one of a kind. So are some of his policy proposals....
Cost of the wall
According to a 2009 Government Accountability Office report, the average cost of fencing per mile is around $2.8 million to $3.9 million for the easiest-to-install and least expensive urban fencing.
    "You don't necessarily get a lot of bang for your buck," said Tom Wong, an assistant professor of Political Science at University of California, San Diego. [...]
    However, according to Marc Rosenblum, the deputy director for the U.S. Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Institute, in more remote and desert areas, "costs go up quite dramatically."
    So dramatically that it can cost more than four times the average cost of fencing more populated areas. In one instance, it cost $58 million for three and a half miles in difficult terrain in the San Diego sector, Rosenblum said.
    So calculate that cost times the length of the entire southern border, and the total price tag comes out to be around $20 billion. Rosenblum also pointed out that that cost doesn't include maintenance and staffing the wall.

Glenn Spencer -- American Border Patrol
Fudging the Border Numbers
     CNN accurately reports the average cost of border fencing, but them goes on to quote a political guy who says, “You don't necessarily get a lot of bang for your buck,” from fencing. Nonsense. Every time proper fencing was installed it worked to cut apprehensions by more than 90%.
    CNN then quotes Marc Rosenblum who calculates the cost of border fencing based on the $17 million per mile at San Diego, rather than bout $3 million per miles from the GAO. That's a multiplier of about 5 --- so rather than $20 billion for Trump's fence, it would really cost about $4 billion --- which is what I said yesterday.
    As to the $300 billion to deport illegal aliens, I said we could repatriate them for about $80 billion --- and get the money back.
Update: Here is a close up photo of the fence at San Diego taken by American Border Patrol on June 4, 2009. Note the double fence and the extensive flood control, street and concrete work. This is really expensive stuff! Glenn Spencer was flying the airplane from which the photo was taken. -- Mexico is at the top. Update 2: Now compare that fence to what DHS built on the border in Cochise County.