Press Release

Rep Cuellar Responds to Border Wall Cost Estimates

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Washington, April 18, 2017 | Victoria Glynn | comments

Today, Senate Democrats released a report (attached) attempting to estimate the cost of President Trump’s proposed border wall idea.

In response, Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28), a member of the Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee which funds Border Patrol, wrote:

"A new report has found that President Trump's border wall idea may cost up to $70 billion taxpayer dollars - despite little evidence it will actually improve security. The President's expensive side project would be a 14th century solution to a 21st century problem, at unacceptable prices.

The administration is also planning to seize private land from my constituents, in exchange for laughably small payments. Texans of all political stripes don't like federal agents taking their property. We will fight this bad idea until the President finally admits that it isn't going to happen."

Key findings from the report include:

  • 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. That amounts to a total cost to every American man, woman, and child of over $200. A costbenefit analysis of the project is not complete.
  • The projected cost of construction for every mile is rapidly increasing to as much as $36.6 million per mile. This does not include the costs of acquiring the land on which the wall will be built. It also does not include the maintenance costs of border barrier, which may total nearly $150 million per year.
  • The Department cannot provide a cost estimate of the anticipated land acquisition to the Committee. In the past, the U.S. government spent at least $78 million to acquire land where fencing is currently in place.
  • When the U.S. government has been forced to go to court, the costs of land acquisition can be much higher; in past land condemnation cases involving border fencing, the government spent more than $11 million on acquiring 271 acres of land from private landowners, an average price of $42,600 per acre. In one case in Cameron County, Texas, a landowner was initially offered $233,000 for 3.1 acres. After a three-year legal battle, the government eventually paid at least $4.7 million, a nearly 2,000 percent increase over the initial offer.
  • 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, over 90 condemnation cases remain unresolved and fence has not been built in those locations.
  • Concrete prototypes of the wall will be paid for by slashing the budget for mobile video surveillance.
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