DHS report claims Trump wall will cost billions more and take longer to construct

An internal report by the Department of Homeland Security says the proposed wall along our southern border that President Trump wants to build will cost significantly more than congressional Republicans say it will and take longer to complete.

The Hill:

An internal report by the Department of Homeland Security found that President Trump's proposed wall along the U.S. southern border would take 3.5 years to complete and would cost as much as $21.6 billion, Reuters reported Thursday.

Trump has said he expects the wall to cost $12 billion, while Republicans in Congress pegged the final cost at around $15 billion.

The report looks at the cost and timeline for building a physical barrier of walls and fences along the currently unsecured sections of the U.S.-Mexico border – a little more than 1,250 miles. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly is set to receive the report in the coming days, according to Reuters.

The cost put forth in the DHS report is much higher than estimates by Trump and GOP congressional leaders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Both Kelly and Trump have said that construction on the wall would begin in a matter of months, and have waved off concerns over the project's price tag. In an interview with Fox News earlier this month, Kelly said he expected funding for the wall to come "relatively quickly."

"I think the funding will come relatively quickly and like I said, we will build it where it's needed first as identified by the men and women who work the border," he said.

Kelly also said during the interview that he hoped the project would be completed within two years – significantly quicker than the DHS report estimates.

The report also revealed that the government is already working with contractors for the project, and is seeking environmental waivers, Reuters reports.

I can't think of a single major expenditure by government that ever came close to its original estimate in cost or time, so the DHS report – which was never meant to see the light of day – isn't surprising.

The question for Republicans in Congress and the president is, how far they are willing to go in busting the budget to get the wall built?  There will be no immediate recompense from Mexico for the cost of the wall, although options down the road aren't completely closed off.  So for the immediate future, the American taxpayer will foot the entire bill for building the wall – regardless of how much it ends up costing.

Missing from the DHS report is a cost-benefit analysis.  Will the wall be worth it?  No one believes that the wall will stop all illegal immigration, but as supporters have pointed out, the almost unrestricted flow of illegals could be cut considerably.  Along with an increase in border agents and upgraded electronic detection, there is little doubt that the wall will make an impact on illegal immigration.

I imagine that for many U.S. residents along the border with Mexico, the wall will make a positive impact.  So the question of whether the wall will be worth it in the end all depends on one's point of view.  For some, building a wall at any cost is preferable to any other option open to the president.  For others, gains in immigration enforcement must be weighed against the expected increase in budget deficits and long-term additions to the national debt.

It should be an interesting debate in Congress.