The student news site of Pierce College in Lakewood, Washington.

‘Trump’s Wall’ Still Up in the Air

Budgetary concerns arise for the funding of ‘the Wall’

March 10, 2017

The renewed United States-Mexico border is still in its planning process, and its construction has yet to begin. One of the major concerns is how much the Wall will cost, and where and who the money will come from.

President Trump originally estimated it would cost $10 billion, but now, according to Reuters.com, the Border Wall is estimated to cost $21.6 billion. This estimate from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stems from the costs of acquiring privately owned land, specifically sections in Texas.

John Pennington, one of the Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) members for Pierce College, believes the budget may very on the way the cost is spread out. “There is a very structured process for federal funding in the United States,” Pennington said, “And it is critical for readers to remember that proposed budgets from the Executive Branch are just that: proposed.”

One possibility for funds was to adjust and institute new tariffs in the National American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). These tariffs would be targeted toward Mexican exports. On February 14th, in a Toronto Conference on the future of North American trade, Mexico’s Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said, "Nothing in the new NAFTA should be a step backward. We will definitely not include any type of trade management measures, like quotas, or open the Pandora's box of tariffs.”

Trump has made little mention of his intentions for NAFTA in regards to the Wall, and pulling from any of the U.S.’s DHS funds have not been directly address at the time.

Pennington said the cost may pull from other departments that relate to such environmental and territorial matters. The DHS houses many “legacy agencies,” including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), whose budget the DHS would pull from. “DHS is the overarching budget,” Pennington clarifies, “And sub-agencies fit within that overarching budget.”

The Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG) is the primary funding source, and has been funded consistently for several years, even through the financial crisis that began in 2007.

Pennington believes that chances are slim for the Wall’s construction effecting the funding and budgets for Washington, and any other States’ FEMA and DHS. “FEMA and its state, tribal and local partners have fought to maintain the funding,” Pennington said, “I do not see that changing in the next several years under this or any Administration.”

Construction on the Wall does not have a clear date, nor is the source of funding for it clear. It is safe to say that branches of Emergency Management and Homeland Securities will remain largely unaffected by the implementation of the 2000 mile Wall.

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