After promising that the Mexican government would pay for his proposed border wall, President Trump will instead ask Congress for $1 billion to start building a U.S.-Mexico border wall, according to documents obtained by CNN. The money wouldn't be enough to pay for the entire project, which experts think would cost at least $12 billion, but it would begin construction on the wall and replace some existing fencing on the border.
If built, a wall spanning America's southern border would have to be roughly 1,954 miles long. Trump's requested $1 billion would only fund 48 miles of new wall, according to CNN, plus an additional 14 miles of replacement wall near San Diego. It's also unclear what it would be made out of, as the government is soliciting bids for both a concrete wall and one made of other materials.
Trump's ask comes in the form of a supplemental budget request for defense and border security, CNN reports. It would be funded by U.S. taxpayers — a far cry from Trump's pledge to charge the Mexican government for the wall.
However, it's not at all clear whether Congress will grant Trump's request. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has referred to border wall funding as a "poison pill," and suggested that any attempt to insert it into the upcoming funding bill — which must be passed by April 28 — would lead to a government shutdown.
Another potential obstacle is the fact that, according to the Chicago Tribune, most of the land along the Texas border is owned by private citizens, not the government. This means that the administration will have to purchase it, which could add to the overall cost of the project. Additionally, around 75 miles of the border is inside the Tohono O’Odham nation, a Native American reservation. The U.S. government can't build on that land without the tribe's consent, and Verlon Jose, the vice-chair of the tribe, has already said that they won't grant Trump permission to build on the reservation.
During the campaign, Trump claimed that the total cost of the wall would be $8 billion. But in January, Reuters reported that the price tag would be $21.6 billion and take over three years to build, according to internal estimates by the Department of Homeland Security. In response, Trump promised that he'll be able to get the price down once he gets involved with the negotiations.