These Numbers Prove Donald Trump's Wall Is a Joke

May 20th 2016

Presumptive Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump says he has huge plans for America, and if you don't get on board and agree, he's going to come after you.

We get it, Donald, you don't like journalists, especially those from The New York Times. Point taken. Is there anyone you don't have a problem with?

Okay, didn't expect that.

But, like his great wall, Trump shouldn't be impervious — to either critique or criticism of his grand plans, especially considering they involve spending billions of dollars.

His biggest and grandest plans of all: crack down on illegal immigration by deporting 11 million immigrants from the United States and have Mexico pay for a big wall.

These ideas are so fantastical that they sound like what a child would come up with for a school assignment titled "What I Would Do If I Were President." So, in that spirit, let's grade Donald Trump on his big project!


Forgive the caps, but that's how Trump rolls on DonaldJTrump.com: no caps, no glory. His page on immigration reform offers "three core principles" of "real" immigration reform:

1. A nation without borders is not a nation. There must be a wall across the southern border.

2. A nation without laws is not a nation. Laws passed in accordance with our Constitutional system of government must be enforced.

3. A nation that does not serve its own citizens is not a nation. Any immigration plan must improve jobs, wages and security for all Americans.

These read like warped Bruce Springsteen lyrics, but OK, we get the idea: Trump wants a wall, Trump wants laws, Trump does not want to help out illegal immigrants. Trump is then very clear about who is going to pay for this wall: Mexico. Trump's website states:

"For many years, Mexico’s leaders have been taking advantage of the United States by using illegal immigration to export the crime and poverty in their own country (as well as in other Latin American countries). They have even published pamphlets on how to illegally immigrate to the United States."

By the way, guess where that link to "published pamphlets" in the above quote goes? TO THE NEW YORK TIMES.

How is Trump going to deport immigrants?

It's a good question, and one that many believe doesn't have an answer. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), doesn't think it can be done. "You’re not going to get 11 million people and drive them back out of this country," he said. "That’s just not practical. That’s going to kill the Republican Party."

The New York Times (heh) reports that Trump would "would follow the example of the military-style roundups authorized by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954. The initiative, known as Operation Wetback, expelled hundreds of thousands of Mexicans."

Trump estimates it would take about "two years" to do it.

Michael Chertoff, who served as the second United States Secretary of Homeland Security under former President George W. Bush, shared his doubts with, yes, The New York Times:

"I can’t even begin to picture how we would deport 11 million people in a few years where we don’t have a police state, where the police can’t break down your door at will and take you away without a warrant."

Presumably, Trump would need a lot of help from The Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the F.B.I. And though part of Trump's plan is to expand ICE from 5,000 deportation officers to 15,000, it still wouldn't be enough.

So now you're looking at hiring hundreds of people to deport millions. And that's not all.

You don't deport people from the United States and watch them disappear in a puff of smoke. There's a process. For example, after arrest, they would need to be detained. So now you have to find a place to house all of these detainees. John Sandweg, who led ICE under the Obama administration, estimates that you'd have to go from 34,000 beds in a housing facility to about 300,000.

And then, you have to get a judge to approve the deportation. And then, you get a hearing. And in between, you have to wait. And wait. Because everything is backlogged already. So you'd have to hire more judges.

Oh, and if the immigrants aren't from Mexico, but are from overseas, they'd have to be flown home, courtesy of the US government, which would be another huge expense, and frankly, super annoying to arrange. American Action forum estimates that it would take "a minimum of 17,300 flights."

Total estimated cost: Up to $300 billion

Let's give Part 1 of Donald Trump's project a C for creativity, a D- for practicality, and 2 out of 5 Taco Bowls.

Part 2: "We will build a wall. It will be a great wall."

Donald Trump + Wall = still a better love story than "Twilight." Trump loves this idea of having a "great wall" that separates the United States from Mexico.

If you don't feel like watching the above video, here's what it boils down to, in Trump's own words:

"We don't have a country if we don't have borders. We will build a wall. It will be a great wall. It will do what it's supposed to do: keep illegal immigrants out. [...] We need a border. We need a wall. [...] We have to stop the inflow of illegals coming into our country."

Furthermore, Trump is demanding that Mexico pay for this wall. Why? Because, and yes, this is actually on his website: "In short, the Mexican government has taken the United States to the cleaners."

Let's pretend we're in Trump world, where people do what you tell them to do no matter what, and Mexico says, "Sure, this makes sense, we will pay for this, are you on Venmo?" What exactly would Mexico be paying for here?

Trump wants this wall to be made of precast concrete and steel and should be at least 50 feet tall, though Trump loves to threaten to raise the height if he gets annoyed.

He wants the wall to be 1,000-2,000 miles long. He states on his website that this should cost "a one-time payment of $5-10 billion."

No one is buying that, pun intended.

Todd Sternfeld, chief executive of Superior Concrete, told The Times that, "the resources alone would be astronomical."

Sternfeld crunched the numbers on what it would cost to build a 40-foot-tall wall made of concrete and came up with $26 billion. And that's not even taking into account hiring all the workers that would need to build it, as well as providing them with temporary housing while they're doing it. And if you're looking to build a wall that requires tunneling, it would cost even more.

Oh, and also, there's annual maintenance that you'd have to do on the wall, and that won't be cheap either. For example, the current fence that's in place costs about $274 million to maintain. Trump's wall would cost at least $750 million, and that's per year, according to Politico.

But yeah, Trump's wall would be, according to him, better, so of course it would cost more.

It's also not feasible. It's like saying, "You could buy this trusty Honda to get you to work, or you could buy Falkor, the thing that Bastian rides in 'The NeverEnding Story.' Sure, it doesn't exist, but it's BETTER, so you should totally go with that option!"

Total estimated cost: at least $26 billion

Let's give Part 2 of Donald Trump's project a B+ for creativity, a C- for practicality, and 3 out of 5 Little Marcos.

What would Donald Trump's America look like without unauthorized immigrant workers? Watch ATTN:'s video below to find out.

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