By Mike James, USA TODAY
The price tag is in on President Trump’s much-ballyhooed border wall with Mexico: $18 billion.
Trump’s administration asked Congress on Friday to set aside that amount over the next 10 years to build or extend the nearly 700-mile barrier that became a signature 2016 presidential campaign pledge.
The estimate is the most detailed accounting yet of how much it will cost to make the border wall a reality.
The proposal by Customs and Border Protection calls for 316 miles of additional barrier by September 2027, bringing total coverage to 970 miles, or nearly half the border, according to the Associated Press, citing an unnamed U.S. official with direct knowledge of the matter.
It also calls for 407 miles of replacement or secondary fencing, said the official, who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the plan has not been made public.
(Learn More courtesy of Fox & Friends First, Fox News and YouTube. Posted on Jan 5, 2018)
Trump has promised to “a big, beautiful wall” with Mexico as a centerpiece of his presidency but offered few details of where it would be built, when and at what cost.
His administration asked for $1.6 billion this year to build or replace 74 miles of fencing in Texas and California, and officials have said they also will seek $1.6 billion next year.
The 10-year plan, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, resulted from discussions with senators who asked the agency what it would take to secure the border, the official said.
Trump’s border wall is perhaps the most complex of the president’s pending campaign promises, and it involves building and buying property in areas where construction would be difficult.
In summer 2017, journalists from the USA TODAY NETWORK flew, drove and explored every foot of the nearly 2,000-mile international border to document what exists now and to examine how and if a wall could be built, and what impact it would have.
The network team used aerial footage from its helicopter flight of the entire border, along with previously published federal records, satellite maps and on-the-ground checks of GPS locations, to build the most current, comprehensive map of visible fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The digital map allows users to pick any spot on the map and see video footage of the line as it was in summer 2017.
The mapping shows that despite years of construction and more than $2 billion, much of the border is not fenced.
The latest revelation about the wall’s cost comes as the administration intensifies negotiations in Congress on a package that may include granting legal status to about 800,000 people who were temporarily shielded from deportation under an Obama-era program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
Trump said last year that he was ending DACA but gave Congress until March to deliver a legislative fix.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the wall would be “first and foremost” in any package that includes new protections for DACA recipients.
She also said the administration wanted to close “loopholes” on issues that include handling asylum claims and local police working with immigration authorities.
Nielsen called the $3.2 billion requests for fencing during the administration’s first two years a down payment.
“This is not going to get us the whole wall we need, but it’s a start,” she said.
(DHS Sec’y Nielsen tours southern border with ‘Fox & Friends’ Fox News. Courtesy of Fox & Friends, Fox News and YouTube)
The Customs and Border Protection document includes $5.7 billion for towers, surveillance equipment and other technology; $1 billion over five years for road construction and maintenance; and $8.5 billion over seven years for 5,000 new Border Patrol agents, 2,500 border inspectors and other personnel, the U.S. official said.
The document doesn’t specify where the extended wall should be built.