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Sierra Club Borderlands

Border wall price tag also miles long

Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Cost of "levee wall" to taxpayers = $12.5 million per mile. Note sign in foreground: "NOTICE Habitat conservation area, wildlife travel corridor, unauthorized entry prohibited."

350 miles of pedestrian border wall and 299 miles of vehicle barrier have been constructed along the U.S. Mexico border. According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, the average mile of border wall costs taxpayers $4.5 million, an average mile of vehicle barrier $1.6 million. In some places the cost of construction has exceeded $12 million per mile.

These figures do not include additional costs such as those associated with fluctuating fuel, labor, and materials prices, or land acquisition costs. The costs of mitigating the environmental damage caused by the wall and related border enforcement activities have not been factored in either.

As of April, 2009, $3.1 billion had been allocated by Congress for border wall construction, and $2.4 billion had been spent. Most of this money has gone to private contractors.

These huge construction costs to taxpayers are just the beginning. According to the U.S. Army Corps, maintenance of the border wall in some areas could cost $5 million to $8 million per mile per year! The Congressional Budget Office estimates that wall maintenance costs will exceed initial construction costs within seven years, not including costs associated with vandalism. The border wall poses a threat to the well-being of our border wildlife and wild places. But its costs reach even deeper, stretching beyond our borderlands and into our pocketbooks.

Even after spending billions of dollars on the wall and other infrastructure, according to a governmental report, the wall has had little impact on the number of migrants crossing into the United States. In 2010 the Government Accountability Office reported that "As of today, planned fencing-related deployments are almost complete, but their impact on border security has not been measured."

Photo: Scott Nicol

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