Will Donald Trump actually build a wall on the Mexican border?
The $12 billion dollar barrier is on its way
It happened. America went and made every other event of 2016 look infinitesimal.
Donald Trump will become the 45th President of the United States of America, addressing the nation (with a victory speech that was remarkably measured, given his former controversies) and setting in motion the slow, plodding process that will culminate in his inauguration on Friday 20 January 2017.
Now we have the tedious bit. The waiting. The wondering what the hell is actually going to happen.
Foremost amongst Trump’s more controversial policies was his proposed plan to build a wall along the Mexican border, stemming a flow of illegal immigrants he described as “killers” and “rapists”. So, what’s the deal on this wall?
What will it look like?
In short, MASSIVE.
The Mexican-US border is some 2,000 miles long – with around 650 of those miles already covered by fencing or checkpoint perimeters, and natural obstacles. Trump’s wall would be around 1,000 miles long.
Donald Trump has proposed to build an “impenetrable physical wall” as part of his plan to ‘Put America First’. Not a fence, not an expanse of metal walling you get at festivals – an impenetrable wall.
Think Great Wall of China. Think Hadrian’s Wall. Think the Berlin Wall. And then make it bigger. A “great, great wall” is how Trump described it, a span of precast concrete and steel, 50 feet (15.24 metres) high.
Some areas where the natural landscape acts as a barrier would be free of wall, but the details of where the wall sections would fall, and who would build it, are yet to be worked out. The resources required to build such a wall have been described as “astronomical”. At least it’ll create some jobs, right?
How much will it cost?
Around $12 billion. For a wall. Not a rail infrastructure, not a road network, not a high-speed Hyperloop train. A WALL.
But Trump’s $12 billion price tag for the wall has been seen as a huge underestimation by some; the 650 miles of fences cost over $7 billion alone, while the Washington Post estimated the final cost might sit somewhere closer to $24 billion – and that’s if it’s only 25 feet tall.
Who’ll pay for it?
If Trump gets his way, Mexico will pay for the wall in its entirety.
He’s drawn up an entire document on it, which you can read here.
To summarise, Trump is pushing that Mexico needs to “make a one-time payment of $5-10 billion to ensure that $24 billion continues to flow into their country year after year”. If Mexico refuses to pay for the wall, Trump will start strangling the trade that flows between the US and Mexico, putting in trade tariffs and cancelling visas until he gets his wall.
He’s even said that he could increase the amount charged for visas, forcing Mexicans who visit the US to fund the wall with their legal trips.
Will it actually happen?
That’s what everyone is thinking.
Trump can’t do anything until his inauguration on 20 January 2017 – for which he has an extensive list of “Day One” promises.
Trump did meet with the Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in Mexico City back in August, but while the topic of the wall was discussed, the pair didn’t get around to the topic of who would pay for it. Nieto tweeted that Mexico wouldn’t be the one footing the bill:
"I repeat what I told you personally, Mr. Trump: Mexico will never pay for a wall."
The task may well fall to Trump’s team of negotiators and whoever he picks as his ambassador to Mexico.
While the details of the wall are hammered out, you can expect Trump to go to work on radically altering the relationship the US has with Mexico – from making it harder for US companies to move jobs south of the border, clamping down on the number of Mexicans who can travel into the US, deporting all “criminal aliens”, ending “sanctuary cities”… it’s not going to be pretty.
We’ll find out the full details in the first few months of 2017. If World War III hasn’t started.