Trump’s changing vision of the wall – Washington Post12 Gennaio 2019 0 By luna_rossa
Trump’s consistently rallied for a wall, but his wall has taken on different heights, lengths, costs and materials over time.
On Thursday President Trump visited Texas to make his case for a U.S.-Mexico border wall. It’s an argument he has made since the beginning of his campaign, but the wall he is fighting for has morphed over time and grown closer to the wall that already exists.
Of the roughly 2,000 mile border, about 700 miles have a wall or fence today. The first fence was built in 1989. The most recent additions to the border wall and fencing came in 2006, when President George W. Bush signed the Secure Fence Act into law.
From the start, the wall was a hallmark of Trump’s campaign. When announcing his candidacy for president, Trump declared “I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I’ll build them very inexpensively, I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”
Rallying for the wall has been a constant in Trump’s campaign and presidency, but the wall itself has taken on different heights, lengths, costs and materials.Scroll to continue
“It’s going to be a great wall”
In 2015, Trump envisioned a concrete wall. Answering an audience question in December 2015, Trump said, “It’s going to be made of hardened concrete, and it’s gonna be made out of rebar and steel.”
It would be a tall wall. In October 2015, Trump stated that the wall could be up to 50 feet.
The length of the wall was ambiguous. Trump never explicitly rallied for a wall that spanned the entirety of the U.S.-Mexico border, but when the Republican Party made that part of its 2016 National Convention platform, Trump exclaimed on Twitter: “New GOP platform now includes language that supports the border wall. We will build the wall and MAKE AMERICA SAFE AGAIN!”
“Natural barriers, which are pretty good, not as good as the wall, but pretty good”
Though his campaign was frequently portrayed as advocating for a wall along the entire southern border, as early as the October 2015 Republican presidential debateTrump was explicit that a wall did not need to be built along the entire border.
At a campaign stop in December 2015 he explained: “In our case we need really 1,000 miles, it’s 2,000 miles but some is natural borders, natural barriers which are pretty good. Not as good as the wall but you know what, let’s use it, right. So we’re gonna need about 1,000 miles and think of it. So we’re at 1,000 miles, China’s did 13,000 theirs was 2,000 years ago.”
A short-lived shorter wall
In a February 2016 interview with MSNBC, Trump said the wall would go “probably 35 or 40 feet up.” The height reduction was short-lived, however. Later in the same interview he said “And I heard [Mexican President Vicente Fox] said that we will not pay. Guess what? The wall just got higher.” At rallies in early 2016, Trump repeatedly said the wall gained 10 feet everytime Mexico rejected paying for it.
At the Republican presidential debate in March he reverted to his earlier claim that “the wall’s 50 feet high.” Later that month at a MSNBC town hall he stated the wall would be “a good 35 feet. It’s getting higher all the time” and reiterated Mexico “will pay in one form or another.” At the same town hall the price of the wall jumped to $10 billion.
A solar-powered wall
In June 2017, Trump proposed a new funding source for the wall: solar energy. At a White House meeting, the president envisioned “beautiful structures,” 40 to 50 feet high, generating clean electricity from the sun. Trump told lawmakers they could discuss a solar-paneled wall as long as they acknowledged it was his idea.
“You have to be able to see through it.”
Aboard Air Force One in July 2017 Trump told the media: “One of the things with the wall is you need transparency. You have to be able to see through it. In other words, if you can’t see through that wall — so it could be a steel wall with openings, but you have to have openings because you have to see what’s on the other side of the wall.”
The length of the envisioned wall shortened a bit to anywhere between 700 and 900 miles. And according to Trump, building had, technically, already begun. “We’ve already started the wall because we’re fixing large portions of wall right now.”
“No, the wall’s identical”
In a January 2018 interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump repeatedly referred to the wall as 32 feet tall. He bristled at the idea that his planned wall had shrunk. “I saw on television, Donald Trump is going to make the wall smaller; no, the wall’s identical,” he said. “The other thing about the wall is we’ve spent a great deal of time with the Border Patrol and with the ICE agents and they know this stuff better than anybody, they’re unbelievable.” He would do so again days later, following a statement by then-Chief of Staff John F. Kelly that Trump’s thinking on the wall had evolved.
Trump reiterated the need for a transparent wall, as well as the source of funding: “They can pay for it through, as an example, they can pay for it indirectly through [North American Free Trade Agreement]. Okay? … Guess what? Mexico’s paying.”
The cost of the wall jumped around the same time. The Trump administration requested $18 billion for the first phase of the border wall construction. The funds would add only 316 miles of wall while repairing an existing 407 miles.
“We are not building a Concrete Wall, we are building artistically designed steel slats”
During his Christmas video conference with troops, Trump signaled a smaller wall. “It’s going to be 30 feet. Much of it is 30 feet high, some of its lower. But in some areas we have it as high as 30 feet.” The length of the wall was also downgraded to between 500 and 550 miles.
The call was amid the ongoing government shutdown, one of the longest in history. The shutdown rests on the president’s demand for $5.7 billion from U.S. lawmakers to construct 200 miles of wall. Trump recently falsely insisted that he never said Mexico would directly pay for the wall.