Status of President Trump’s border wall—an exercise in translation



The construction of a southern border wall was a prominent campaign issue for Donald Trump during the 2016 election

Michael Russell, Reporter

The border between the United States and Mexico stretches 1,954 miles from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean.

The Rio Grande River covers 1,254 of those miles and creates the border between Texas and Mexico.

There are several border areas that have stunning landscape but are also extremely rugged terrain, not traversable for most people.

Two of those areas include the 1,500-foot near-vertical cliffs on the Rio Grande at Big Bend National Park in Texas and the brutal and treacherous mountains of the Jacumba Wilderness area in California.

Much has been made of President Trump’s 2016 campaign promise to build a wall on the southern border.

Trump detailed a plan to build a wall 1,000 miles long, with the rest of the border secured by natural barriers.

In 2006, Congress passed the Secure Fence Act, authorizing 700 miles of fencing along the border. 654 miles were actually built, however about half of that was just vehicle barriers, allowing human traffic to cross. In areas where actual fencing was erected, it was mostly 10 feet high and easily circumvented due to dilapidation.

Current Presidential candidate, then-Senator Joe Biden and other Democrats voted yes on the Secure Fence Act after a provision was added for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. He now routinely speaks out, specifically, on Mr. Trump’s border barrier wall.

Current prominent Democrats and wall opponents Nancy Pelosi and Bernie Sanders voted no on that same 2006 border fence bill.

For the first two years of his administration, construction of Trump’s border wall was held up, primarily by court challenges. The lawsuits were brought by the ACLU, The Sierra Club and the state of California among others.

Since 2019, when the Trump administration won a Supreme Court case that allowed the use of military funds for construction, the building of the 30-foot high steel barrier has continued,

However, what Mr. Trump has actually accomplished differs from the campaign promise of the completion of a 2,000 mile entire border, “big beautiful wall.”

Even Mr. Trump’s State of the Union address includes his admission of a reduction from his original campaign promise.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in their October status report states,
“The southern border has 669 miles of a “primary barrier.”

A primary barrier, is not a wall. Perhaps this is where the definition of “wall” vs. “new” structural “barrier” come into play—further confusing what has actually been constructed.

As President Trump touts consistent and ongoing construction of a border wall, —BBC News reported just days before the presidential election that, “any calculation of the miles of a new wall constructed by Mr. Trump and his administration depends very much on the definition of the words, “new” and “wall.”  An exercise in translation.

President Trump has said that 450 miles will be completed by years end.

Presidential candidate, and former Vice President, Joe Biden has vowed to halt construction if elected, but also stated he would not tear down existing construction—but would, “Make sure that we have border protection, but it’s going to be based on making sure we use high-tech capacity to deal with it.”