CBP Says Trump’s Fantasy Border Wall Must Be Pretty

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

You could reasonably say that most cost estimates of Trump's fantasy border wall have been conservative and that the total cost to build and maintain it would be far higher. You could reasonably say that even if you assumed it would be constructed of simple wood and concrete and not draped in golden adornments.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has released guidelines for aspiring designers and their guidelines say the wall must be pretty to look at.

"The wall design shall be physically imposing in height," the CBP outlines say. The government says its "nominal concept" is for a 30-foot-high wall, but adds that designs as low as 18 feet "may be acceptable." [...]

It has to look good, too. "The north side of wall (i.e. U.S. facing side) shall be aesthetically pleasing in color, anti-climb texture, etc., to be consistent with general surrounding environment," the CBP says. There's no mention of the aesthetics on the Mexican side.

In addition to calling for 30-foot-high walls, the guidelines also say it must prevent people from tunneling at least 6 feet underneath it, meaning the wall would actually be 36-feet-tall. The guidelines also say the wall must be resistant to tools such as a "sledgehammer, car jack, pick axe, chisel, battery operated impact tools, battery operated cutting tools, Oxy/acetylene torch or other similar hand-held tools."

Unless they plan to construct the wall out of solid cast-iron, it's not clear how they envision it standing up sledgehammers and blow-torches. But even in that case, cast-iron isn't necessarily pretty and, as you know, the wall must be pretty.

If you're keeping track, the costs are adding up quickly. An "aesthetically pleasing" 1000-mile-long wall that is resistant to industrial cutting tools and extends 30 feet in the air and 6 feet below ground sounds like a trillion dollar project, not $25 billion.

Factor in the costs of materials, labor, maintenance, and the legal proceedings required to seize land to even begin construction and you have a giant, ineffectual boondoggle.

When the city wanted to dig up my parent's backyard (and several neighbors') in my home town so they could make it less susceptible to frequent flooding, the entire process took nearly a decade and that was just a small block of homes. Trump wants to seize and demolish thousands of acres of land, much of which is owned by private citizens. Trump could be out of office before construction can even begin.

  • Christopher Foxx

    Trump could be out of office before construction can even begin.

    President # 50 would be out of office before construction could begin.

  • muselet

    “Physically imposing” and “aesthetically pleasing.” That’s a big ask.

    The Chrysler Building comes to mind, as does the Transamerica Pyramid Center. Maybe The Shard, if I’m feeling generous. A 10-meter–tall wall that’s 3100 kilometers long, though, is going to be imposing to the exclusion of any other consideration.

    Either nobody in CBP has any aesthetic sense at all (a distinct possibility) or this is a masterclass in trolling the boss.


  • 1933john

    What’s to prevent dispatching Ten IndependentlyTargeted
    Rapers (TIT’Rs) into El Paso using a trebuchet?

  • Badgerite

    The actual intent and motive behind the “wall” cannot be covered up by some paint.
    Not even “thermite paint”.

    • JMAshby

      I’ll always read “thermite paint” in the voice of Chez as Jesse Ventura.

      • Badgerite


  • Georgie

    Lets just do the something like the Wall of China, that’s pretty, and people can patrol along the top and even live in little huts built right into the wall itself, sign…I’m starting to slowing go insane, I think.

  • Aynwrong

    Trump and his supporters want to inflict a version of “The Big Dig” upon the entire Southwest. Ironically (again) it’ll be some of his supporters who get burned by this when their own property gets confiscated, torn up and they are offered handed the market value bargain basement for their land when the Eminent Domain kicks in.

    In other words, they are about to sign onto a real estate deal involving Donald Trump. I think we all know how those tend to work out for anyone not named Trump.

    The only other analogy I can come up with for this is Robert Moses. Another New Yorker who tore up thousands of people’s lives for the sake of his “vision.” But that’s a poor analogy because none of those people voted for the son of a bitch, and Moses wasn’t a blithering idiot.