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The Wall

How President Trump's 2016 campaign promise to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico became shorthand for his restrictionist immigration policies

President Donald Trump said he would build a wall on the Mexican border as soon as he announced his candidacy for the 2016 presidential race. He promised he would “build the greatest wall” and make Mexico pay for it, touting his background in real estate and as a “great builder.” “Build the Wall!” became a slogan during his campaign rallies as a shorthand for restrictive immigration policies, and has continued to serve as such into his administration.

Democrats and even some Republicans have opposed Trump’s plan, saying it is wasteful and not even an effective way to deter illegal immigration. In early 2019, Trump shut down the government over his demands for funding for the wall, but later okayed a government funding bill letting it reopen it without getting the funds he sought.

Beyond political pushback, experts have deemed building the wall nearly impossible because of the “environmental and engineering problems” its construction could face. Construction problems have plagued private attempts to build sections of Trump’s wall. In July 2020, ProPublica and The Texas Tribune reported a privately funded wall section along the Rio Grande built by Fisher Industries was showing signs of erosion just months after the project finished. The section cost $42 million dollars to build, and the fundraising effort to build is the subject of a federal fraud case. After completing this crumbling section of wall, Fisher was awarded about $1.7 billion in federal contracts for border wall work in Arizona.

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