Biden plans additional barriers in Rio Grande valley (CNN Oct. 5, 2023)

1st construction of new (non-replacement) barrier (Fox, Oct. 25, 2019)

How much built so far (CNN, Jan. 19, 2019)

Trump's "wall" update (BBC, Jan. 4, 2019)

Use, don't refuse 'the wall' (Thiessen, Wash. Post, December 13, 2018)

National Guard Deployment "colossal waste" (LA Times, May 25, 2018)

Trump tours border wall mockups (NPR, March 13, 2018)

Semantics of border barrier (LA Times, February 27, 2018)
$200m for four 30 foot prototypes (BBC, September 1, 2017)
Construction firms preparing bids (Economist, March 25, 2017)


Historical background

1848    Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo specifying border line

1889    International Border and Water Commission

1924    US Border Patrol

1970    US-Mexico Boundary Treaty

1986    Immigration Reform and Control Act (US)

1994    Operation Gatekeeper (Calif. + similar border tightening by US   

           borders in Arizona and Texas from 1983-97)

1996    Illegal Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA) (US)

2006    Secure Fence Act (US)


Since 2016:

2017    Trump's Executive Order on Border (Jan.  2017) (see also here)

2018    Fund and Complete the Border Wall Act (proposed Aug. 2018)

2019    Trump's National Emergency Declaration (Feb. 15, 2019



Border statistics

Total US Border Patrol budget (billions): 1991 $.3, 2000 $1, 2016 $2.6, 2022 $16. US-Mexico border (fiscal 2016): 86% of agents, 98% of apprehensions (of which about 1/2 were nationals of Mexico, about 1/4 from the "Northern Triangle" (Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador) and 1/4 other). In 2023, the funding and staffing percentage devoted to the US-Mexico section of the USA's bounderiers were unchanged, but total "encounters" (confusingly reporting "apprehensions" and "expulsions" together as one statistic) apparently rose continuously every year since 2017 (except for the Corona epidemic dip of 2020). The figures are, however, apparently impacted by changes in asylum filing procedures over the period. Meanwhile, though absolute cross-border flows clearly mounted, Mexico's share fell to one quarter. Thus, with Northern Triangle remaining circa 1/4, the share of "other" became 1/2.


Statistics on existing fencing: By 2012 about 300 miles of pedestrian fencing and 250 miles of vehicle barriers had been installed on the 1989 mile long US-Mexico border. When Trump took office, in 2017, 654 miles of barrier had been erected. As of end of 2018) "40 miles of replacement barriers have been built or begun." In 2019, construction was "expected to start" on 61 more miles of replacement barrier and  two extensions of barriers for 14 additional miles along Texas-Mexico border.

By January, 2021, under the the Trump administration, barriers had been erected on 47 miles of border where there had been none before. By late 2023, there were "700 miles of non-contiguous fences along the 1,951-mile border" (Time). Most of the fencing was authorized and built during the presidential administration of G.W. Bush, but started before him, and his successors, Obama, Trump and Biden all added more.


Sources: Press stories (embedded links), Wikipedia, Pew, WALO, USBCP.

Pictures: from National Geographic (2016)


Trump's wall breached 3 thousand times (Guardian, 3 March 2022)

How much was built? (BBC, 31 October 2020)

World's most costly wall (NPR, January 2020))

Smugglers sawing through (CNN (WaPost), November 2019)

Dispatches from the US-Mexico border (NPR, 2018)

Biggs' funding bill (introduced, August 2018)

The Berlin Wall and refugee flows in historical perspective


US-Mexico Border Barriers

Fenced stretches per Washington Post (26-Jan-17)

Fenced stretches per New York Times (26-Jan-17)

                 This page last updated 11 April, 2024