Building a "big, beautiful wall" between the US and also Mexico was the signature promise of president Donald Trump's 2016 choice campaign. A concrete barrier, he said, would serve to protect against what he described as a flow of illegal immigrants and drugs over the border.

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But what actually happened to the wall? exactly how much of it has actually been built? and also how efficient has that been?

Any calculate of the miles of new wall built by mr Trump and also his administration depends an extremely much top top the definition of the native "new" and also "wall".


Before he took office, there to be 654 mile (just over 1,000km) of barrier along the southerly border - consisted of of 354 miles of barricades to prevent pedestrians and also 300 miles of anti-vehicle fencing.

Now, follow to united state Customs and also Border security (CBP) in that 6 October condition report, the southern border has 669 mile of "primary barrier" - the very first structure human being heading indigenous Mexico to the united state will conference - and 65 miles of "secondary barrier" - which typically runs behind the primary structure together a further obstacle.

This method that in locations where no barricades exist before, lock have constructed 15 mile of new, primary barrier or "border wall system", as it is called by CBP.

​​About a additional 350 miles of barrier has to be built, follow to CBP, consisted of of instead of structures and some brand-new secondary barrier.

More is planned, too, through 378 mile of new and replacement obstacle either under building or in the "pre-construction phase". Much less than half of this will be in places where no barriers right now exist, according to CBP.



However, grandfather Trump himself doesn't do a difference between these new stretches of barrier and replacement structures, regarding both as brand-new wall.

This is because, that says, replacements involve "complete demolition and also rebuilding of old and also worthless barriers".

When the army rips under an old & badly broken Border wall surface in an essential location, & replace instead replace it through a brand new 30 ft. High stole & Concrete Wall, Nancy Pelosi says we room not building a Wall. Wrong, and also it is going increase fast. Brandon Judd just gave us great marks!

"My administration has done much more than any management in background to for sure our southern border," mr Trump claimed in June throughout a visit come the wall.

But what grandfather Trump has actually constructed is far from what he promised in ~ the start of his 2016 choice campaign, when he pledged to develop a concrete wall along the border's whole 2,000-mile length.

He later clarified that it would certainly cover only fifty percent of that. And by the time of his State the the Union resolve in February this year, his pledge had been lessened to "substantially an ext than 500 miles" by January 2021.

Image source, Getty Images

Mr trump is still quick of the target - also if you incorporate all the new, replacement and an additional barriers erected so far.

Yet just how much more will be built is uncertain, with democratic rival presidential candidate Joe Biden saying that, if he would certainly not tear down the barrier Mr Trump has built, he would certainly not expand it further.

As well together scaling earlier his ambitions because that the length of the border barrier, mr Trump has actually also changed his watch of what constitutes a wall.


But once elected, he started referring come a obstacle made of steel, which would permit border agents to see with it.

Specifically, lot of the current wave of building and construction is 18-30ft (5.4-9m) reinforced bollard fencing, follow to a report through the non-partisan Congressional research study Service.

"It poses a formidable barrier, but it is not the high, thick stonework structure that most dictionaries term a 'wall'," the report states.

However, the report adds the while the brand-new barriers may not it is in made of concrete and also in many instances replace present structures, they do pose "a brand-new obstacle that alters the calculus of those attempting to overcome the border between ports the entry".

Having claimed that, although mr Trump's obstacles are not themselves made of concrete, they have actually been created using a far-reaching amount that it, according to CBP.

Some 774,000 cubic yards (592,000 cubic metres) of concrete have actually been provided in building and construction so far, alongside 539,000 tonnes that steel.

Despite mr Trump's pledge ~ above the project trail in 2016 to acquire Mexico to pay for the wall, it is the US government that has actually spent billions that dollars to expand and reconstruct it.

Just end $5bn (£3.9bn) in funding has come via traditional method through the CBP, but Mr trumped has likewise ordered virtually $10bn in room of Defense (DoD) resources to be sail - a move that has actually sparked legit action.

Back in 2019, after ~ his inquiry for a additional $5.7bn because that the wall surface was rejected and also Congress allotted just $1.4bn, grandfather Trump declared border control a national emergency and used powers under the national Emergencies act to relocate cash native DoD budgets.

Some $6.3bn that counter-drugs funding and £3.6bn of military construction capital has so far been sail to the wall project, according to the CBP.

But mr Trump's decision to bypass congress in this means has prompted a variety of legal challenges - one from a variety of environmental groups, represented by the American civil Liberties Union, together with the states of California and new Mexico.

Two reduced US courts have actually ruled in favour of this groups, concluding the the diversion that an quantity of $2.5bn from DoD come construct barriers in California, brand-new Mexico and also Arizona was unlawful.

However, the supreme Court - the highest possible federal court in the us - has enabled barrier building using the funds to proceed pending the appeals process. It will hear a difficulty by chairman Trump's administration against the lower courts' decision next year.

Mr Trump do reducing illegal immigration a peak priority of his management and it has been a crucial part that his re-election campaign.

The latest numbers suggest the number of migrants apprehended at the southerly border this year have fallen ~ doubling in between 2018 and also 2019.

In particular, the number of children and also those travelling in family groups apprehended at the border has actually dropped significantly in the 12 months to October, contrasted with the ahead year.

How lot this autumn in number is under to the brand-new barriers is unclear, though, and immigration specialists say the autumn is most likely to be the result of the deterrent impact of a whole raft that anti-immigration measures introduced by grandfather Trump's administration rather than the obstacle alone.

Those fleeing violence or persecution to the united state have uncovered asylum rules tightened, been compelled to wait in camps for long periods together their instances are determined and come up against brand-new limits on the number of refugees accepted into the country.

The administration has also embraced emergency procedures throughout the coronavirus pandemic that allow agents come expel those cross the border back to Mexico, bypassing typical immigration and asylum proceedings.

"Any result that the physical wall surface has had in to reduce unauthorised migration has actually paled in comparison come the administration's administrative wall," states Sarah Pierce, us immigration policy analyst in ~ the elevation Migration plan Institute.

A series of "interlocking policies" have actually "significantly lessened unauthorised arrivals", she called the

But although numbers for detentions at the border are most likely to have actually dropped for the year together a whole compared with 2019, monthly figures have to be rising because the spring and reached a 13-month high in September.

This is driven partially by solitary adults indigenous Mexico who have been make the efforts to get in the us repeatedly, according to CBP figures. Data reflects the "recidivism rate" - the number of repeat crossers - has risen by 37% due to the fact that the finish of March.

Mark Morgan, CBP's acting commissioner, has suggested worsening economic problems due come the coronavirus pandemic in Mexico and also further afield might be come blame.

Thousands who have made the journey to the southern US border have uncovered refuge in short-term border areas - often in shanty communities with small infrastructure or resources and vulnerable to push from violent organised-crime gangs.

According to person Rights Watch, these migrants space under threat from criminal organization which kidnap them on the presumption that they have actually relatives in the united state who might be extorted for money.

In the town of Matamoros, throughout the border from Brownsville, Texas, numerous people set up one such camp in 2018 near the entrance point, in the scrubland on the financial institutions of the Rio Grande.

By the begin of this year, the camp had about 3,500 civilization living in tents - men, women, and also children from across central and southern America and beyond. An additional 10,000 asylum seekers room thought to be living in other places in the city.

Charities such as the people Food Kitchen, the Dignity town collective and worldwide Response monitoring (GRM) administer food, tents, clothing and medical treatment to those life in the camp, where around 50% of citizens are under the period of 15.

But Andrea Leiner, director of strategy planning because that GRM, claims coronavirus and July's Hurricane Hanna have had dire consequences.

Coronavirus restrictions have actually meant the border has actually been closed because that all but essential travel and immigration hearings have actually been postponed.

Hurricane Hanna no only brought floods to the camp but additionally caused one infestation of rats, snakes and also mosquitoes, forcing countless residents to flee.

Ms Leiner says the repetitive blows the plague, famine, and hurricane, on optimal of the legit restrictions, have drained people of hope.

"These world have nowhere to go. Castle can't go home - they will be eliminated if lock go home - and also they can't gain into the US, for this reason they are stuck in this purgatory right now and also we don't watch that ending any kind of time soon," she says.

Mr trump card has claimed in the previous that 90% of heroin in the us comes throughout the southern border and that a wall surface would aid the fight versus drugs.

However strengthening and also extending the border obstacle is i can not qualify to do lot to mitigate illegal medicine - such as heroin, cocaine and also methamphetamine - since most come through created border checkpoints, well-known as harbor of entry.

While the majority of the heroin in the us does come native Mexico, the drug Enforcement management says many of it is concealed in privately owned vehicles or transporter lorries, blended with other goods, and smuggled v legal entrance points.

CBP numbers for drugs - excluding marijuana - seized top top the southerly border also show most come through ports that entry, although a report through the conference Research company does state that border obstacles can offer to push people to overcome in locations where castle are an ext likely to it is in "detected, intercepted, and detained".

Rodney Scott, cook of the us Border Patrol, agrees - and gives the instance of mountain Diego, wherein he claims cartel lorries used to drive across the border "three or 4 at a time on an virtually daily basis, through high-speed pursuits throughout town".

"Those stopped instantly with the border wall surface system, " he says. "It does not typical cartels will avoid smuggling drugs - currently we're going to address tunnels and also other aspects - however it driven that threat, the day-to-day life-and-death hazard for kids waiting for a institution bus close to the border, the end of those areas."

Smugglers likewise appear significantly to it is in using watercrafts to shot to land medicine on the beaches of southern California - v the number intercepted through CBP's air and marine work jumping 82% critical year.

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Marijuana is the many trafficked drug, with an ext than 227 tonnes seized top top the southerly border this year. The is likewise the drug most most likely to be smuggled in locations away indigenous the border checkpoints.

Traffickers consistently use secret tunnels to smuggle tonnes the marijuana, mainly in the California and also Arizona stretches of the border.