What would it take to make good on Donald Trump’s campaign promise to build a wall across on the U.S.-Mexico border? An engineering and construction marvel.
Start with the length of the border. The U.S. border with our southern neighbor stretches for 1,989 terrestrial miles from east Texas through New Mexico, Arizona and California, ending at the Pacific Ocean’s shores.
Construction cost estimates peg a wall at anywhere from $7 billion to $10 billion, but the Trump campaign insists that the price of a wall would be a bargain compared to the financial burden on U.S. taxpayers from illegal immigration.
“In short, the Mexican government has taken the United States to the cleaners. They are responsible for this problem, and they must help pay to clean it up,”the campaign’s policy paper on immigration reform says . “The cost of building a permanent border wall pales mightily in comparison to what American taxpayers spend every single year on dealing with the fallout of illegal immigration on their communities, schools and unemployment offices.”
Trump hasn’t said how tall the wall would be, other than to suggest that it gets higher with every complaint from Mexican leaders. Nor has he said how thick it would be, nor how it would be patrolled.
For comparison purposes, let’s look at the erstwhile Berlin Wall. That structure, built in the early 1960s to keep Eastern Europeans from fleeing to Western Europe, was nearly 12 feet high,and 4 feet wide — but a mere 23 miles in length.
Now, a number of engineering studies have taken a look at what it would take to build a similar structure along America’s southern border.
One of the most in-depth was done by a New York City engineer writing under a pen name Ali F. Rhuzkan. You can read the entire study on nationalmemo.com’s website.
But here are the salient features:
It would take more than 12.6 million cubic yards of concrete based on 25-foot-tall, 10-foot-long and 8-inch-thick wall panels with a 6-foot foundation. Rhuzkan equates that amount of concrete to more than three times the amount used to build the Hoover Dam.
Or, placed in perspective, he wrote that “quantity of concrete could pave a one-lane road from New York to Los Angeles, going the long way around the Earth.”
Rhuzkan, who says he does not speak to the press, is not a fan of Trump’s wall project saying the Hoover Dam “unlike Trump’s wall, has qualitative, verifiable economic benefits.”
Take that into consideration when you review his very detailed an extensive calculations and blueprint drawings.
Others have also pointed to non-engineering barriers to a wall.
The Government Accountability Office has written numerous reports on border barricading as part of the federal government’s audit/watchdog agency reviews of the efforts to fence the border. In addition to construction materials, the GAO has listed a number of other obstacles to any effort to fence or wall off the border: ecological hurdles, disputes with ranchers and landowners and topographical difficulties.
“It’s extremely challenging to put a brick-and-mortar wall along the southwest border for any number of reasons,” the Washington Post quoted GAO report writer Richard Stana, who retired in 2011. “It seems very simplistic.”
Trump’s supporters, however, are adamantly in support of the wall.
In October 2015, as Trump’s presidential bid gathered steam, in spite of a series of controversial comments, Trump held a rally at his Doral property. While he was discussing immigration, a Trump backer yelled out, “Build the wall!”
Trump stopped, and noting the location, the greater Miami area, and his audience, with many Hispanics in attendance, he mused that he wasn’t sure he should mention building the wall. But after encouragement from the audience, he reiterated his goal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.
There’s been no turning back on the pledge. His most recent tweet about the wall was on Feb. 19: “I have built so many great and complicated projects — creating tens of thousands of jobs in the process. Building a wall is A LOT easier than building a 64-story building!”
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