Is Donald Trump finally getting around to building his wall?
By Joe Harker
"We're going to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it."
If there was any one policy that Donald Trump tried to impress upon the American public while running for President, it was his intention to build a border wall and have Mexico foot the bill. Trump has not been deterred by Mexico deciding not to spend billions on another nation's project, nor by the various practical problems of building a wall across 2,000 miles of border that would have to cut through mountains, rivers and settlements.
Various prototypes for the wall design are being built in California, with President Trump due to choose his favourite in a month. There are eight competing prototypes, each 30ft high and located near San Diego, putting them close to the Mexican border. The one Trump chooses will be the model for the rest of the wall, which could cost up to $25 billion in construction fees, and will likely continue to cost large sums in maintenance. Four of the designs are made of concrete and the other four are made from "other materials".
There has been a three month delay in the construction of the prototypes, as there were protests from those who didn't win contracts to participate in the design and construction. The wall keeps hitting delays, but it appears that tangible progress is finally being made. Despite this, there are several lawsuits originating from San Diego that are attempting to block the plans to replace existing border fences in California.
President Trump will be pleased that a bill to secure at least $10 billion in funding for the construction of the wall is expected to pass through the House of Representatives, though he will be less pleased that the slim Republican majority in the Senate could scupper his attempts to acquire significant funds. There may be big problems with much of the border land in private ownership, with ranchers and landowners needing to "beware" as the President's 2018 budget is asking for 20 lawyers to pursue eminent domain cases and gain control of the land.
The Washington Spectator suggests that building the wall will be a disaster for the US, with estimates on the cost varying wildly despite the President suggesting that he could build a wall for $10 billion. Investment firm Alliance Bernstein examined the material and labour costs and their findings make Trump's estimate look "laughable". Surprisingly, Mexican concrete companies could be some of the biggest financial benefactors from the wall, as some of them have plants on either side of the border and could be awarded contracts to supply the huge amount of concrete needed to build a wall that covers the border between Mexico and the US.