Trump's Border Wall Faces Obstacles 03/27 06:11
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump has now laid out exactly what he
wants in the "big, beautiful wall" that he's promised to build on the
U.S.-Mexico border. But his effort to build a huge barrier to those attempting
to enter the U.S. illegally faces impediments of its own.
It's still not clear how Trump will pay for the wall that, as described in
contracting notices, would be 30 feet (9 meters) high and easy on the eye for
those looking at it from the north. The Trump administration will also have to
contend with unfavorable geography and many legal battles.
A look at some of those obstacles:
Trump promised that Mexico would pay for his wall, a demand Mexico has
repeatedly rejected. Trump's first budget proposal to Congress, a preliminary
draft that was light on details, asked lawmakers for a $2.6 billion down
payment for the wall. An internal report prepared for Homeland Security
Secretary John Kelly estimated that a wall along the entire border would cost
about $21 billion. Congressional Republicans have estimated a more moderate
price tag of $12 billion to $15 billion. Trump himself has suggested a cost of
about $12 billion.
It's unclear how much money Congress will approve. Lawmakers have been
balking at his plans to sharply cut other federal spending to pay for the wall
and other boosts to border security, while increasing military spending. White
House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters this past week that the
administration was still looking at how the wall would be funded, adding that
it hasn't given up on Mexico footing the bill.
Roughly half of the 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) U.S.-Mexico border is in
Texas and marked by the winding and twisting Rio Grande. A 1970 treaty with
Mexico requires that anything built near that river not obstruct its flow. The
same treaty applies to a stretch of border in Arizona, where the Colorado River
marks the international boundary.
Some fencing that is already in place along the frontier is built well off
the river, in some places nearly a mile (about a kilometer) away from the
Trump will have to navigate not only the treaty maintained by the
International Boundary and Water Commission but also various environmental
regulations that protect some stretches of border and restrict what kind of
structures can be built and where. The contracting notices of March 17 say the
Trump administration wants the wall dug at least 6 feet (almost 2 meters) into
the ground. Along parts of the border in California, environmentally sensitive
sand dunes required that a "floating fence" was built to allow the natural
movement of the sand.
Nearly all of the land along the Texas border is privately held --- much of
it by people whose families have been in the region for generations --- and
buying their land won't be easy, as Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama
discovered. Lawyers for both administrations fought in court with private
landowners. Obama's efforts to buy privately held land in the Rio Grande Valley
have carried over into Trump's term.
The Trump administration appears to be preparing for the legal fight and
included a request for more lawyers to handle such cases in its budget
proposal. Spicer said this past week the administration would "take the steps
necessary" to fulfill Trump's promise to secure the southern border.