As Congress battles over President Trump’s demand for $5 billion in border-wall funding, Homeland Security officials explained Friday what that money could actually buy.
According to DHS officials, the funding would cover the construction of 215 miles of “wall system” on the southern border.
What that system would include is a matter of debate.
But DHS officials say it could cover the replacement of “dilapidated” fencing, new wall sections and secondary wall structures, as well as roads and lights for Border Patrol agents.
The “wall system” also includes sensor technology that would enable agents to detect movement coming toward the wall, “starting the clock” for officials to respond before anyone starts to try to scale it.
DHS officials said that of the 215 “linear miles,” well over a hundred miles would be brand new wall in places where there is no barrier now. The majority of this construction would be in the Rio Grande area, specifically the Laredo sector, along the Texas border with Mexico.
DHS officials said those 215 miles would be the most “critical” locations that need to be addressed. The total cost of a wall could be upwards of $25 billion – additional funding in the future could go toward other locations.
Despite these plans, Republicans are still struggling to approve Trump’s wall-funding request. House Republicans passed a government-spending package late Thursday that includes the $5 billion, but it is running into Democratic opposition in the Senate.
“You will not get your wall. Abandon your shutdown strategy,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Friday, in remarks directed at Trump.
Without a deal, a funding lapse would trigger a partial government shutdown at midnight.