As part of the preliminary budget that President Trump will release on Thursday, the administration will call for spending $1.5 billion on building a border wall this year, according to budget director Mike Mulvaney.
Building an entire wall along the southern border will likely cost much more than that. Trump himself put the figure at $10 billion during his campaign, which is probably another underestimation. In a leaked internal report, the Department of Homeland Security estimated a wall would cost as much as $21.6 billion, while an external report prepared by investment research firm Bernstein Research put the price at $25 billion.
But speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Mulvaney defended the $1.5 billion figure, saying, “That’s all that we think we can spend this year.”
Trump’s budget release will also call for spending $2.6 billion on the wall next year.
Mulvaney wouldn’t say how many miles of wall would actually get built with that funding. Instead, he said that the money “provides for a couple of different pilot cases” that will allow the administration to assess “different kinds of barriers in different kinds of places” to find the “most cost efficient, safest, most effective border protections.”
But on the campaign trail, Trump promised that he would begin building the wall “on day one” and it would be completed within just two years. “We’ll start quickly,” he said in April of last year. “And it’ll be a real wall.”
And while Trump promised over and over again that Mexico would pay for the wall, this initial money will come from U.S. government coffers. When asked where the $1.5 billion is being drawn from, Mulvaney replied, “It’s coming out of the Treasury.”
Mulvaney also promised that as part of the $54 billion increase for the Department of Defense, there will be “more money for enforcing security at the border.”