Build The Wall: A Simple How-To Primer
Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, January 8, 2017
On June 16, 2015, when Donald Trump announced his candidacy for United States President, he said in part, “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.”
Trump has estimated construction costs could range from $8-12 Billion, that it should be be made of precast concrete, rise 35 to 40 feet, or 50 feet, or higher, and that it doesn’t need to span the entire distance of the border, but only half because of natural barriers.
Accurate official Cost Estimates to build The Wall are sketchy, and a 2009 report by the Congressional Research Service found that the challenges include “costs versus benefits, location, design, environmental impact, potential diplomatic ramifications, and the costs of acquiring the land needed for construction.”
Projected costs vary widely, and the report stated that:
The Corps of Engineers study predicted that the costs of constructing a double layer fence consisting of primary fencing and Sandia fencing would range from $1.2 million to $1.3 million a mile, excluding the costs of land acquisition. The Corps of Engineers also predicted that the 25-year life cycle cost of the fence would range from $16.4 million to $70 million per mile depending on the amount of damage sustained by the fencing.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that border fencing would cost $3 million a mile to construct and that maintenance would total roughly 15% of the overall project costs per year.
According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the border fencing constructed by the end of FY2007 (using mostly the Corps of Engineers and the National Guard to construct the fencing) cost about $2.8 million a mile. The fencing constructed in FY2008, using mostly private constructors, cost about $5.1 million a mile.
In “Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, Committee on Homeland Security, House of Representatives” entitled “SOUTHWEST BORDER SECURITY: Additional Actions Needed to Assess Resource Deployment and Progress; Statement of Rebecca Gambler, Director, Homeland Security and Justice” published Tuesday, March 1, 2016, the U.S. Government Accountability Office stated that:
“In addition, with regard to fencing and other tactical infrastructure, CBP reported that from fiscal year 2005 through May 2015, the total miles of vehicle and pedestrian fencing along the nearly 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border increased from approximately 120 miles to 652 miles. With the completion of the new fencing and other tactical infrastructure, DHS is now responsible for maintaining this infrastructure including repairing breached sections of fencing.”
See also: Highlights of GAO-16-465T, a testimony before the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, Committee on Homeland Security, House of Representatives.
And make no mistake, Public Law 109–367 enacted by the 109th Congress, also known as the “Secure Fence Act of 2006” requires that “the Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide for least 2 layers of reinforced fencing, the installation of additional physical barriers, roads, lighting, cameras, and sensors…” at specified locations. But in typical Congressional fashion, the law was changed in 2008, and the fence requirements contained in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008, still mandates the construction of a fence covering “not less than 700 miles” of the border, but eliminated the requirement that the fence be double-layered. According to “Remarks by Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson: “Border Security in the 21st Century” – As Delivered,” “in Fiscal Year 2000 we had 10 miles of secondary fence along the southwest border; today we have 36.3 miles of secondary fence.”
Citing a U.S./Mexico Trade Deficit of $50 Billion in 2014, and a $54 Billion Trade Deficit for the first 11 months of 2015, Trump has proposed reinstating tariffs on Mexican goods in violation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Trump said, “When they say Mexico can’t pay for the wall, I say of course they can. We have a trade deficit with Mexico that’s unbelievably big. … It’s billions and billions of dollars — far more than what we’re talking about for the wall.”
His claim that “I will have Mexico pay for that wall,” would ostensibly be done by reinstating tariffs, otherwise known as “taxes” on goods “Hecho en Mexico.”
However, there is another potential manner in which he could “have Mexico pay for that wall,” which would be to use Section 326 of the Patriot Act, which requires financial institutions to verify the identity of customers who seek to open accounts. And, on Trump’s campaign website he does just that. Trump’s proposed rule changes to Federal Financial Regulations would redefine “account” to include wire transfers, which would ostensibly deny immigrants the ability to send money outside the United States until they were able to provide documentation of their legal status.
On his campaign website, Trump claims that “approximately $24 billion a year in remittances from Mexican nationals working in the United States. The majority of that amount comes from illegal aliens.” Bank of Mexico has confirmed that there were $24.77 billion in remittances to Mexico in 2015. Whether the majority of that money “comes from illegal aliens” is a matter of great conjecture, and is unable to be proven.
Associate Professor of Economics Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes, along with Assistant Professor of Economics Cynthia Bansak, both of San Diego State University, and Professor of Economics Susan Pozo at Western Michigan University wrote “On the Remitting Patterns of Immigrants: Evidence from Mexican Survey Data” for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, which was published in Economic Review, Vol. 90, No. 1, 2005, and presented at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta conference “Payments in the Americas,” October 7–8, 2004. In their report they “summarize[d] and present[ed] the basic trends in remittance transfers from Mexican immigrants in the United States to their families in Mexico.”
Using data in the Mexican Migration Project (MMP93) (2004) they found that “Of household heads that migrated to the United States, 71 percent remitted money home on a monthly basis. For those who remitted, average remittances exceeded $450 per month (in 2000 dollars), accounting for more than 40 percent of remitters’ mean monthly earnings.” Among other findings, they discovered that the average Mexican immigrant was 35, male, married who left young family behind, had only three years of schooling, and stayed in the United States for three years. Admittedly, $5400/year isn’t much, and according to the United States Census Bureau, average personal income in 2015 was $44,510, so most Americans make well over that amount.
Trump’s prospective Cabinet is reportedly among – if not the – wealthiest ever in the history of the presidency. Trump himself is reputedly a Billionaire, and likely THE wealthiest president ever.
Trump Financial Donor Robert Mercer through his Super PAC “Make America Number 1“ gave more than $15.5 Million during this election cycle, from which over $950,000 went to Donald Trump’s Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway. Robert Mercer is father of Rebekah Mercer, a 42-year old Stanford University-educated mother of four who lives in a Trump building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, and is the Director of the Mercer Family Foundation, to which Robert gave $33.1 Million. He also gave $2.5 Million to the John Bolton super PAC, and Robert and Diana Mercer together gave about $1.3 Million to the Republican National Committee. And according to federal campaign contribution data tracked by the Center for Responsive Politics, Mr. Mercer also gave Republican candidates $23 Million this year. None of those donations really put a dent into Mr. Mercer’s bank account, because Forbes magazine pegged his income at $150 Million last year.
Linda McMahon, who with her husband Vince, co-founded the multimillion entertainment complex colloquially known as ‘rasslin’, and more accurately as the World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (the WWE is a publicly-traded, privately controlled firm on the New York Stock Exchange), contributed $7.5 million to Trump’s White House run before he selected her to run the Small Business Administration.
Of note, Linda left the WWE and campaigned as a Republican for United States Senator from Connecticut, but lost to Democratic Party nominee Richard Blumenthal in the general election of 2010. She was also the Republican nominee for Connecticut’s other Senate seat in the 2012 race, and lost to Democratic Representative Chris Murphy.
Of his Cabinet choices, Trump has said at a post-election Des Moines rally, “I want people that made a fortune. Because now they are negotiating with you, okay?”
Amway Billionaire Betsy DeVos, who is Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education, with her husband Richard gave $1.8 million through their family foundation.
Todd Ricketts, co-owner the Chicago Cubs, and son of TDAmeritrade founder Joe Ricketts, is Trump’s pick for Deputy Commerce Secretary, whose parents gave Trump $1.3 million.
Former Goldman Sachs executive and hedge fund manager Steven Mnuchin, gave Trump $425,000.
CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. which is run by CEO Andrew Puzder, gave Trump $332,000, and is Trump’s choice for Secretary of Labor.
Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, is Trump’s choice for Secretary of Commerce, personally gave $200,000.
Trump’s biggest supporters include Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, who gave at least $21.2 Million; Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus $7.6 Million; Linda McMahon $7.5 Million; Dallas banker Andy Beal $4.4 Million; hedge fund executive Robert Mercer $3.4 Million; Billionaire investor and poker player Andy Beal personally contributed $449,400. Longtime Trump friend Tom Barrack gave more than $399,000. Vector Group President & CEO Howard Lorber gave $100,000. The list of Trump contributors in their various “gifts” to Trump’s election bid reads like a veritable “Who’s Who” among America’s 1%… the ultra wealthy.
Sheldon Adelson – $47.4 million
Robert Mercer – $23.5 million
Paul Singer – $23 million
Richard and Liz Uihlein – $21.5 million
Joe Ricketts – $14 million
Ken Griffin – $13.6 million
Warren Stephens – $13.2 million
Ron Cameron – $12.1 million
Diane Hendricks – $9.6 million
Bernie Marcus – $8.6 million
Stephen Feinberg & wife – $678,800, co-founder and CEO of Cerberus Capital Management
But more to the point.
There’s more than enough Private Equity to Build The Wall. There’s no sense in taxing the General Public to build and maintain it. Tax Dollars should not go to things like that. Instead, there are viable options which make significantly greater sense.
Some folks gripe about The Wall.
I don’t understand why.
Some folks want it, some folks don’t. And almost everyone who opposes it mentions cost.
Let’s make this easy:
There were 62,979,879 Trump Voters.
Using a $12 Billion Cost to build The Wall, that works out to $190.54 per vote.
Pass the bucket and let everyone who wants it built pony up and put their money where their mouth is -AND- make all donations tax-deductible.
Make The Wall into a Private Profit Center, and construct it with Private Money.
Make a 501(c)(3) to accept donations and build it.
It’s the Private Sector at work!
No government funds expended!
Matter of fact, we could sell bricks in The Wall with folks names engraved on them!
We could sell advertising on The Wall!
Make The Wall a GIANT BILLBOARD!
Imagine the possibilities!
It could be a MASSIVE money-maker, and profit center!