The Trump Administration’s Fiscal Year 2019 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) request continues to focus a lot of attention on border security and reducing illegal immigration. It contains $2.6 billion for new border security infrastructure and technology, including $1.6 billion for the president’s proposed border wall to fund 65 miles of new construction in the Rio Grande Valley Sector along the U.S. southern border. Remember, this is a wall that the president has consistently stated will be paid for by Mexico.
But this is just the tip of the wall’s funding “iceberg,” which Mr. Trump initially put at $8 billion. According the White House’s FY2019 budget, the administration is now proposing to spend $18 billion on the wall. Other estimates are considerably higher – investment industry analysts have placed the wall’s total cost at between $15 and $25 billion, while a Massachusetts Institute for Technology study estimated the cost at around $40 billion. Mr. Trump himself has acknowledged that the wall will be staggeringly expensive. In January 2018, the president proposed creating a $25 billion trust fund to help fund the border wall system.
The budget request also includes more than $210 million to recruit, hire, and train 750 new Border Patrol agents at the agency for Customs and Border Protection, and $570 million for 2,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) law enforcement personnel in 2019, along with support staff.
Finally, the Trump administration also requested $2.8 billion to fund 52,000 detention beds for non-U.S. citizens detained by ICE, and $511 million for transportation costs related to the deportation of illegal immigrants.
Add all that together, and you have a request of more than $6.5 billion for various flavors of “border security.” We hope that a more detailed review of the president’s DHS request will explain exactly how much “security” this money is going to buy.