Presidential candidate Donald Trump has several proposals for securing the nation's borders, but the costs for building a massive wall on the border and deporting undocumented immigrants could come with a multibillion-dollar price tag, experts are warning.
"I think that it's possible, but it would prove to be extraordinarily expensive," Marc Rosenblum, the deputy director for the U.S. Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Institute, told CNN
about Trump's call for a wall separating Mexico from the United States, even though real estate mogul has insisted that Mexico would pay for that structure.
It costs $2.8 million to $3.9 million per mile to install the least expensive urban fencing, according to a 2009 Government Accountability Office report
that examined the costs for meeting requirements of the Secure Border Initiative (SBI), a multiyear, multibillion-dollar program aimed at securing U.S. borders and reducing illegal immigration. But that estimate is at the low end, as the costs go up "quite dramatically" in remote and desert areas, said Rosenblum.
For example, the SBI fencing was to cost $58 million to cover 3 1/2 miles of terrain in the San Diego sector alone, the report showed.
"You don't necessarily get a lot of bang for your buck," Tom Wong, an assistant professor of political science at University of California-San Diego, told CNN.
Overall, to build a wall, the total price would be estimated at $20 billion, and Rosenblum said the cost does not include maintaining and staffing the structure.
"I think that it's possible, but it would prove to be extraordinarily expensive," he told CNN.
Rosenblum also warned that Trump could run into having to deal with private landowners, as much of the border property is either considered tribal territory or is privately owned.
And when acquiring tribal land, Wong told CNN, Congress must adhere to complicated standards that could add to the costs.
In addition to the costs, Rosenblum and Wong said that a wall would just slow immigrants down, especially in areas where there are not enough border patrol agents stationed.
"It's a very surface level reaction to say 'build a wall along the border,'" Rosenblum said.
Deporting the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States would also be cost-prohibitive, according to a study by the Center for American Progress
that put the price at nearly $300 billion to "find and arrest, detain, legally process and transport the undocumented population over a five-year period."
"That's an expensive and difficult way to manage it," Rosenblum said. "Universal deportation is going to be inefficient."
Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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