U.S. Senate Report: Wall Costs Could Soar Toward $70 Billion

Information provided by Department of Homeland Security indicates dramatic potential costs, no realistic estimate of land acquisition costs

WASHINGTON – The Democratic staff of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee today issued a report detailing that costs for the Administration’s proposed concrete wall along the southern border could soar to nearly $70 billion—not including the significant costs and legal resources required for land acquisition. The report is based in part on documents and briefings provided by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials.

Southern Border Wall report cover

The report’s key findings include:

  • No cost benefit analysis of any kind has been performed by the government regarding the border wall project.
  • Using cost estimates for sections of the wall provided by CBP, the extrapolated cost of the wall could be nearly $70 billion—amounting to a total cost to every American man, woman, and child of over $200.
  • These estimates do not include potential costs of land acquisition of thousands of acres along the southern border, either through land sales or eminent domain.
  • Litigation to acquire the land to build the wall may last a decade or longer. Of the more than 300 condemnation cases related to past border fencing efforts filed before a district judge in Texas, the vast majority of which were filed in 2008, 92 condemnation cases remain unresolved and fence has not been built in those locations. Despite this existing data, CBP told committee staff that they anticipate land acquisition to last 12-24 months.
  • Proposed concrete wall prototypes will be paid for by slashing the budget for mobile video surveillance. Secretary Kelly has testified on the importance of technology, stating that “a physical barrier in and of itself will not do the job.  It has to be really a layered defense.” 

“There is no reliable estimate of the cost of construction of the full border wall, but extrapolated estimates place the construction cost of the wall and associated technology and infrastructure at nearly $70 billion,” states the report. “That amounts to a total cost to every American man, woman, and child of over $200...The Department (of Homeland Security) cannot provide a cost estimate of the anticipated land acquisition to the Committee.”   

The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Democratic staff report, led by the staff of U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, is available online HERE.

Documents provided to the committee by CBP detailing initial potential costs are available online HERE.  

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