Mexico foreign minister denies report he changed Trump wall speech

US President Donald Trump tweeted on Saturday that the media was wrong to say the cost of his promised wall along the United States' border with Mexico would be steeper than initially projected, promising that his negotiating skills will bring the price down sharply. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan estimated the costs at between $12 and $15 billion.

The report is expected to be presented to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly in coming days, although the administration is not necessarily bound to take the actions it recommends. Large parts of the border, especially in Texas, are in privately owned land and the cost of acquiring it, through eminent domain or other methods, is one reason for the soaring cost estimate.

The report also shows that the government has started to seek waivers on environmental laws for building in some areas.

Reuters said the report is the final step before beginning the process of asking Congress to provide taxpayer funding and launching construction.

DHS officials assume in the report that Congress will approve funding for the wall in April or May, and Mexico would eventually reimburse the US, even though its leaders have been adamant about not financing the project.

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The Southern border stretching 1900 miles along all types of terrains and covers four states: California, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas.

In the past, Trump has repeatedly said Mexico will pay for the wall at a later date, with Congress (so, American tax dollars) fronting the funds at first.

The president also cited The Washington Times' report Friday that after a judge halted his extreme vetting executive order, the State Department surged admissions of Syrians, Iraqis and other refugees from the seven countries Mr. Trump is most anxious about in connection to terrorism. Considering that's past the halfway mark for 2017, it seems like - even if construction ran on time - the wall's construction could take longer than the duration of Trump's entire presidency. Trump, who took office on January 20, has vowed to make Mexico pay for it, but the United States' southern neighbour has repeatedly said it will not fund its construction. The Mexican government has said it would not pay for the border wall.

The ensuing legal battle could add drive constructions cost up to as much as $25 billion, according to Bernstein Research, an investment research group that tracks material costs.

  • Phil Peters