How Likely It Is That Trump Can Build That Wall

So, you're scared and numb and feeling alone, and you're wondering what's going to happen in the next four years. I get that, and I'm right there with you. There are so many questions to ask ourselves now that Donald Trump is president-elect. He's made a lot of outlandish claims over the course of his campaign, so let's start from the top. Will Donald Trump actually build the wall? It's been a part of his campaign since day one, so it certainly seems to be a priority. However, there are enough obstacles standing in the way of its completion that there's still hope that the project will be discarded.

He first revealed his plan to build a wall along the United States' border with Mexico in June 2015, when he announced his candidacy for President. At that point, he also claimed that Mexico would bear the costs for the project, saying in his announcement speech,

"I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I’ll build them very inexpensively, I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall."

It's a bold statement, but it isn't as easy as all that. As The International Business Times points out, any wall extending the full length of the Mexican border would have to be almost 2,000 miles long. Since Trump envisions a wall and not a fence, reaching up to 50 feet high, the only real option as far as materials is precast concrete. That would make this a project that would require roughly three times the amount of concrete used in the building of the Hoover Dam.

Just as a heads up, even after plans were completed, the Hoover Dam project took five years, which in itself will be longer than a Trump presidency.

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The president-elect has put the cost of such a project at $10 to $12 billion, but a study from The Washington Post suggests that the real budget would be much higher, likely closer to $25 billion. That number right there is our best hope, because we just don't have that kind of change lying around in the budget. That's why Trump has repeated this notion of Mexico paying for the wall ad nauseam: because if they don't, it can't be built.

In order to get Mexico to agree to such a bizarre proposition, Trump has threatened to block Mexicans living in the U.S. from sending money back home to Mexico unless they can provide documentation of their legal status. This would mean preventing around $24 billion a year from crossing the border into Mexico, so Trump, on his campaign site, banked on the fact that it will be "an easy decision for Mexico: make a one-time payment of $5 (billion)-10 billion to ensure that $24 billion continues to flow into their country year after year."

The thing is, you know who doesn't agree with that plan? The President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, whom Trump visited in August. Although he claimed in a news conference after the meeting that they "didn't discuss payment of the wall," Nieto insisted that they had, tweeting, according to CNN: "At the start of the conversation with Donald Trump, I made it clear that Mexico will not pay for the wall."

It's one thing to make incendiary claims in your speeches, but, at the end of the day, there are a lot of moving parts that would need to fall into place in order for the Mexican border wall to be a viable project. If Trump can't even settle on a height or a length — he's gone between 30 and 55 feet, and length estimates have ranged between 1,000 and 1,900 miles — I don't see this ever happening. There's also the fact that the wall would traverse private lands, which would need to be purchased, which is added expense. Without the cooperation of Mexico and its President, this will thankfully — hopefully — remain an unfulfilled campaign promise.