Regardless of your political beliefs or your thoughts on the current U.S. administration's plans for the America/Mexico border, one thing is clear: the project is going to cost money. A lot of it.

There has been a lot of discussion about a border wall between Mexico and the United States in the past year. The Canadian border with the United States is largely a friendly place, and for years it was the longest undefended border in the world (although this is no longer the case). The border shared by the United States and Mexico is a very different place. Some people support the idea of a border wall, and others are against it. Let’s step away from the politics though, and look at the current situation on the border and what changes a wall would bring.

Did you know?

  1. The U.S. and Mexico share a border that is approximately 1,900 miles long and covers a variety of different terrain types including deserts, cliffs, and water.
  2. Some of the border is already fortified by formidable natural obstacles like the Rio Grande river.
  3. Recent wall discussions are not the first attempt to fortify the border between the two nations.
  4. The Secure Fence Act of 2006 (under George W Bush) authorized the building of hundreds of miles of fences on the border and included new vehicle checkpoints and improved lighting.
  5. The Secure Fence Act achieved bipartisan support amongst both Republicans and Democrats.
  6. Congress allotted $1.4 billion for the fence, but cost estimates for building and maintenance over 25 years were closer to $50 billion.
  7. In 2007 the Department of Homeland Security began to shift towards a “virtual wall” using sensors and cameras —that too had funding and implementation problems.
  8. The fence in general has been plagued by delays and funding problems. By 2015, it was reported that approximately 650 miles of fencing had been built at a cost of $7 billion.
  9. The full length of the proposed wall is approximately 1,000 miles. By comparison, the Great Wall of China is 13,171 miles (counting all branches).
  10. Cost estimates for the proposed wall (excluding upkeep) vary from as low as $10 billion to $25 billion (and higher).
  11. Beyond the question of financing, any wall project would face a number of other challenges—geographically and environmentally.
  12. Some older walls along the border have solved local smuggling/crime issues, but others have been bypassed (including by tunnel). Only time will tell if this wall will achieve its aims.