The Trump administration is asking Congress for nearly $18 billion to construct more than 700 miles of new and replacement barriers along the southwest border, offering its most detailed description yet of the president's vision for a border wall with Mexico.
Continue Reading Below
The request, if granted, would be a major expansion from the 654 miles of barrier now, bringing the total to nearly 1,000 miles -- about half of the entire southwest border.
The plans are laid out in a document prepared by the Department of Homeland Security for a group of senators who asked the administration to detail its request for border security. The document was described to The Wall Street Journal by two people who had seen it.
In total, the administration details about $33 billion in desired new border-security spending, including funding for technology, personnel and roads. The document refers to this as "critical physical border security requirements."
President Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to build a "big, beautiful wall" on the border to stop illegal immigration and drug trafficking, and promised Mexico would pay for it. Congress hasn't agreed to spend any money on the project, and Mexico has repeatedly said it won't fund it.
The document, from the Customs and Border Protection agency at the Department of Homeland Security, envisions the border-wall project unfolding over 10 years. If carried out as described, by 2027, about 970 miles of the 2,000-mile southwest border would have some sort of fencing or wall separating the U.S. from Mexico.
Continue Reading Below
It comes as lawmakers and the White House negotiate an immigration package that would legalize young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, a group known as Dreamers. The White House has demanded that border security be included in the legislation, and last month a group of GOP senators asked for details of what the White House is seeking.
The document isn't meant to be a complete outline of the administration's requests, which also involve changes to the legal immigration system and other enforcement measures, an administration official said. Rather, it details only the border-security elements.
Congressional support for the border-wall idea is tepid, with Democrats and even many Republicans opposed on either financial or symbolic grounds. But lawmakers in both parties support other types of increased border security.
The non-wall requests include $5.7 billion over five years for towers, surveillance equipment, unmanned aerial vehicles 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 and other personnel.
The administration has already requested $1.6 billion for 60 miles of a new barrier in Texas and 14 miles of replacement fencing in San Diego for the current fiscal year. Congress hasn't passed the spending bills for 2018, and wall funding is one of the hang-ups.
The administration's new document doesn't detail where the additional miles of barrier would be constructed beyond 2018. It refers to the barrier as a "wall system," though officials including Mr. Trump have at times said it might look more like a fence or a "see-through wall."
The total cost for the barriers would be $9 billion over the first five years and $8.7 billion over the next five years, the document said.
The Bush administration, which constructed much of the existing fencing, was stymied in its efforts to build additional miles for a range of reasons, including resistance from private landowners in Texas, where most of the unfenced land sits.