Biden Halts U.S.-Mexico Border Wall Construction, Trump Made Dismal Progress

How much of the U.S.-Mexico border wall did Trump actually build? Learn more about his promised wall and Biden’s action to halt construction.

Dan Clarendon - Author

Jan. 26 2021, Published 2:30 p.m. ET

U.S.-Mexico Border Wall
Source: Getty Images

Almost exactly four years after former President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing the government to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall, President Joe Biden signed an executive action halting the construction. So, how much of the border wall is built?

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Turns out, not that much has been built. But in his proclamation, Biden wrote that “building a massive wall that spans the entire southern border is not a serious policy solution” but instead a “waste of money that diverts attention from genuine threats to our homeland security.”

How many people worked on the border wall?

border wall
Source: Getty Images

The number of construction workers who worked on the wall isn’t readily available. On December 17, 2020, acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan tweeted a claim—without listing his sources—that canceling the border wall contracts “will cost taxpayers billions of dollars in ‘termination costs,’ leave critical materials and innovative technology behind, and force thousands of construction workers to lose their jobs.” 

According to Construction Dive, the U.S. will save $2.6 billion by canceling the construction, even after termination costs.

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Also, the construction contracts might get repurposed instead of getting canceled. In his proclamation, Biden directed his undersecretaries to “develop a plan for the redirection of funds concerning the southern border wall, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law.” The development of the plan “shall include consideration of terminating or repurposing contracts with private contractors engaged in wall construction, while providing for the expenditure of any funds that the Congress expressly appropriated for wall construction, consistent with their appropriated purpose.”

How much the border wall cost U.S. taxpayers.

Trump promised to build his border wall “very inexpensively” and “have Mexico pay for it.” But as of January 2020, the price tag for the border wall was more than $11 billion dollars, or nearly $20 million per mile, according to NPR

And one of his White House communication directors acknowledged to CNN in 2019, that U.S. taxpayers—not Mexico—are footing the bill.

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Everything is changing now that Biden signed executive action. “It shall be the policy of my Administration that no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall. I am also directing a careful review of all resources appropriated or redirected to construct a southern border wall,” he wrote.

Not much new wall was built.

According to a report by Customs and Border Protection on December 18, 2020, published by, around 438 miles of the new primary and secondary wall had been constructed. However, around 365 miles of the new construction replaced older barriers. In locations where no barriers previously existed, only 73 miles of the primary and secondary wall had been completed.

During his presidential campaign, Biden told NPR that there would “not be another foot of wall constructed” during his administration. In Biden's proclamation, he wrote, “My Administration is committed to ensuring that the United States has a comprehensive and humane immigration system that operates consistently with our Nation’s values.”


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