The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is currently in the process of building prototypes for the proposed barrier on the U.S. border with Mexico. CBP is paying six different contractors a total of $20 million to develop an effective wall or fence designed to prevent traffic under, through, or over the barrier.
“We want a better barrier. One that is hard to scale, hard to penetrate and hard to tunnel under,” Roy Villareal, chief of the San Diego Border Patrol sector, told NPR.
These prototypes show that federal agencies under President Trump’s control are taking positive measures to secure the border. “Build the wall” was an effective message that rallied millions of Americans and won him the presidency. Now he is in the early stages of proving he may actually fulfill that promise.
However, completing the border wall, or even building a partial barrier, will require cooperation between the executive and congressional branches of government. President Trump will have a hard time completing the project if Congress refuses to fund it.
Congressional funding and support for building a border barrier has been underwhelming so far. FAIR estimates that it will cost a minimum of $15 billion to build an effective fence on the southern border. The most recent funding appropriation figure, that congress is still struggling to support, is approximately $1.6 billion – barely 10% of the minimum funds needed.
In addition to the GOP under-delivering, Democrats are threatening to hold vital funding for other programs hostage if any funds whatsoever are allocated toward constructing a border wall.
In order to maximize his chance of success, Trump needs to create a clear path forward regarding border security, and then place the pressure squarely on Congress. Most Republicans in Congress were also elected, in large part, because of their promise to enact true immigration reform, just as the president was. So if the president can offer a viable plan to secure the southern border, many in his own party (and even some swing state Democrats) will feel the heat from their home districts if they renege on the promises that got them elected. What President Trump shouldn’t do right now, however, is surrender the issue simply because the DC establishment is telling him that the outlook appears bleak.