Despite the endless hype and political wrangling, the Trump administration has only managed to put up 1.7 miles of fencing along the Mexican border using the $1.57 billion allocated to the project by Congress, according to a letter filed Tuesday in federal court.
The information was provided to U.S. Judge Haywood Gillam in Oakland, California, citing information directly provided to Congress by the White House regarding its efforts up to the end of April. The judge is weighing requests from 20 state attorneys general and the Sierra Club to prevent Trump from using unauthorized funds to build the wall, according to Bloomberg.
Attorney Douglas Letter wrote in a court filing:
“The administration recently provided updated information to Congress on the status of its efforts as of April 30, 2019. Based on that updated information, it appears that CBP has now constructed 1.7 miles of fencing with its fiscal year 2018 funding.”
The 1.7 miles constitutes three quarters of a mile more than what the White House had previously reported in February, Letter added.
According to a May 20 report by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on the wall’s status, the $1.5 billion in 2018 funding was to be used to update or build 80 miles of the controversial barrier, including 14 miles of new and updated wall panels near San Diego to be finished early next year, and 13 miles of additional new construction in the Rio Grande Valley.
Additionally, contracts have been awarded for over 40 miles of new wall to replace pedestrian-style fencing along the border in California and Arizona, which should also be finished late next year, per the CBP report, while the Rio Grande Valley construction requires continued consulting with local officials.
Both the CBP and Defense Department have been allocated $6.1 billion since 2017 to build 336 miles of the wall, according to the report.
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump lashed out at the so-called “haters” who claim that he is falling woefully short of his signature campaign promise to “build the wall,” which he had originally claimed Mexico’s government would pay for.
The president tweeted:
“Much of the Wall being built at the Southern Border is a complete demolition and rebuilding of old and worthless barriers with a brand new Wall and footings. Problem is, the Haters say that is not a new Wall, but rather a renovation. Wrong, and we must build where most needed … Also, tremendous work is being done on pure renovation – fixing existing Walls that are in bad condition and ineffective, and bringing them to a very high standard!”
Also, tremendous work is being done on pure renovation – fixing existing Walls that are in bad condition and ineffective, and bringing them to a very high standard!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 22, 2019
The defensive tweets may have been prompted by coverage on his favorite morning show, Fox News’ “Fox & Friends,” where the administration came under fire for reports on right-wing news aggregator Drudge Report regarding the Bloomberg story on Pentagon funding of the wall.
At the top of Wednesday’s show, co-host Brian Kilmeade said:
“Big story in Drudge today, we’ve only built a mile and a half — a mile and a half of wall (sic) but yet, we’ve been allocated to build at least 100 miles of wall … But for some reason they just can’t seem to get it done. Unbelievable.”
Trump oversaw the longest government shutdown in history earlier this year due to his insistence on funding the wall. The administration has continued to engage in a protracted legal battle with Congress over its continued attempts to skirt legislators by declaring a national emergency to ensure the wall’s completion.
Critics have noted that the wall, in addition to being environmentally destructive and an example of wasteful government spending, is a bronze age technology with myriad simple countermeasures that can be used to skirt the obstacle.
Trump has insisted that the wall may be a “medieval solution,” but that it “worked then and it works even better now.” The president hasn’t cited any evidence, historic or otherwise, to support his claims.
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