Trump vows to bring planned border wall costs "way down"

An internal report by the Department of Homeland Security found that President Trump's proposed wall along the USA southern border would take 3.5 years to complete and would cost as much as $21.6 billion, Reuters reported Thursday.

In the coming days, the report will be tabled by John Kelly, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, although the administration is not expected to take actions that the report recommends.

Trump, in two tweets Saturday, promised that he would bargain the cost of the wall "way down", according to a Washington Post report. After winning election, Trump changed his position: USA taxpayers would pay up front for the wall, and Mexico would reimburse us (somehow) on the back end. "However, we are concerned that the sweeping language and broad requirement of this executive order will force you to divert critical resources from Department of Homeland Security priorities, hampering your agency's ability to carry out its mission and keep our country safe", they wrote in a letter to Kelly.

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This would allow Trump to score a political win by showing supporters he's serious about building a wall between the USA and Mexico, Reuters notes. Addressing county sheriffs at the White House on Wednesday, he said: "The wall is getting designed right now".

Estimates are now putting the wall's cost at $21.6 billion - almost double the amount Trump's campaign first claimed it would be, according to BuzzFeed.

A total of 654 miles of the border are already closed off but the new plan would extend this to the entire length of the US-Mexico border.

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The report assumes funding would be granted by April or May, and that construction could commence in September.

The document also revealed that the US government has begun to coordinate with existing contractors, plan for steel purchases and seek waivers for environmental laws.

"Building a wall is the most expensive and least effective way to secure the border", Hurd, whose district includes El Paso, said in an email. Covering 26 miles it would cost an estimated $360 million (£289 million).

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Hurd said he had seen estimates as high as $40 billion for the barrier's construction, citing a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study released in October.