The Trump administration could waste billions of dollars building a wall on the United States’ southern border, one of President Trump’s cornerstone campaign promises. According to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) out Monday, the administration has failed to consider costly factors like varying terrain and land ownership in the area.
The report also found that Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), which is tasked with building the wall, selected locations for barriers to prevent people from crossing the border illegally without considering where those barriers would actually serve their purpose.
“Without assessing costs, consistent with leading practices for capital decision making, C.B.P. does not have complete information for prioritizing locations to use its resources in the most cost-effective manner,” the report’s authors wrote.
They added, as the New York Times reported Monday, that CBP “faces an increased risk that the Border Wall System Program will cost more than projected, take longer than planned or not fully perform as expected.”
CBP has not commented on the report.
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) requested the report along with Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX). Both members of congress told the Times Monday that the report confirmed earlier suspicions.
“This report exposes what we have suspected would happen for over a year,” Thompson said. “The Trump administration, fixated on campaign promises no matter the cost or consequences, is rushing the construction of the president’s completely unnecessary border wall.”
Filemon echoed Thompson, saying, “The report shows us what we already knew: The Trump administration put almost zero thought into the construction of this wall other than how it will play in the news cycle.”
Shortly after taking office last January, Trump signed an executive order calling for construction on the wall to begin, but Congress has not given Trump the funding to do so yet.
Recently, Trump has threatened to shut down the government this fall if funding for his wall is not approved.
I would be willing to “shut down” government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall! Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT! We need great people coming into our Country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2018
“I would be willing to ‘shut down’ government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall,” he tweeted.
Later, in a press conference with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Trump reiterated the threat, saying, “If we don’t get border security after many, many years of talk within the United States, I would have no problem doing a shutdown. We’re the laughingstock of the world.”
Interestingly, the report about the potentially high, unnecessary costs of the unnecessary border wall comes just days after a new report from a Koch brothers-backed think tank concluded that moving to the single-payer Medicare for all health care system proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) would save the U.S. more than $2 trillion over the next decade.