Trump's wall, by one estimate, could cost $70 billion


If President Trump wants to see his border wall completed while he is still in office, he may have to convince members of Congress to cough up a lot more money than he originally promised the project would cost. Many times more, in fact, if a report from Democrats on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is to be believed.

The report, issued Tuesday afternoon, uses information provided by the Department of Homeland Security in its requests for funding for similar barrier projects to extrapolate from cost estimates for a wall stretching almost the entire distance of the southern border.

Related: Looks Like Trump Won't Be Getting Any Money to Build His Wall This Year

At the high end, the estimate tops out at nearly $70 billion, far more than the $12 billion Trump promised during his presidential campaign, and three times the $21.6 billion that an internal DHS report came up with in February.

Average Cost of Border Barrier

To be sure, the report was authored wholly by the committee's Democratic members, who are uniformly opposed to the wall project in the first place and have every reason to paint it in as poor a light as possible. For example, the report appears to assume that the wall would extend across the entire border, virtually unbroken except in a few areas. DHS officials have said that in some areas the wall could be more of a fence and that in others electronic surveillance might be sufficient.

However, even if the estimate in the report is off by half, it would still represent a major upward shift in the project's cost. And regardless of the precision of the estimate, the report does raise some troubling questions about one of Trump's signature campaign promises.

RELATED: Stunning US border control stations

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Stunning US border control stations
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Stunning US border control stations
The Warroad Port of Entry designed by Julie Snow Architects

Located in Minnesota on the Canadian border, the Warroad Port of Entry services approximately 157,000 cars, buses, and trucks annually. A rich, dark cedar covers the facade of the building, which was constructed in 2012.

(Photo by Julie Snow Architects/Paul Crosby/GSA)

The Warroad Port of Entry designed by Julie Snow Architects

The wood continues in the interior. Large windows in the lobby and office area give a sense of openness and transparency.

(Photo by Julie Snow Architects/Paul Crosby/GSA)

The Warroad Port of Entry designed by Julie Snow Architects

"You need to be cognizant of officers' hyper-awareness, but you also have to provide them with a haven," the station's leading architect, Julie Snow, told the General Services Administration.

(Photo by Julie Snow Architects/Paul Crosby/GSA)

Source: GSA

The Canadian Plaza at the Peace Bridge designed by NORR Limited

The neo-futuristic Canadian Plaza at the Peace Bridge, located in Fort Erie, has a bridge that links Buffalo, New York and Ontario, Canada.

(Photo via NORR Limited/Open Buildings)

The Canadian Plaza at the Peace Bridge designed by NORR Limited

According to the architects, the design was inspired by the area's native long house shelters and canoes, one of the earliest types of transportation used to cross the Niagara River.

(Photo via NORR Limited/Open Buildings)

Source: Architizer

The Canadian Plaza at the Peace Bridge designed by NORR Limited

Completed in 2007, the two-story station on the Canadian side features a central skylight that brings in natural light.

(Photo via NORR Limited/Open Buildings)

The Mariposa Land Port of Entry designed by Jones Studio.

In Arizona, the Mariposa Land Port of Entry is "a study in balancing security with a dignified welcome ... and strives to be a cultural connection — rather than a division," the architects wrote in a statement.

(Photo via Jones Studio/Facebook)

Source: Jones Studio

The Mariposa Land Port of Entry designed by Jones Studio.

The designers made a conscious effort to have the open-layout station appear humane and welcoming.

(Photo via Jones Studio/Facebook)

Source: Jones Studio

The Mariposa Land Port of Entry designed by Jones Studio.

Constructed in 2014, the 216,000-square-foot port features a processing station for vehicles and pedestrians, a lush garden, and a system that allows it to collect and recycle rainwater.

(Photo via Jones Studio/Facebook)

Source: Jones Studio

The Murrieta Border Patrol Station designed by Garrison Architects

In California, the Murrieta Border Patrol Station was designed to blend in with the arid desert landscape. Constructed in 2004, the building's brick facade is a pale, sand-like brown.

The fence around the entrance for border agents is made of the same steel as the US-Mexico border fence. To access the building, they must walk through the fence "and experience it as a threshold, a reminder of the permeability of borders," the architects wrote.

Source: Garrison Architects

(Photo by Garrison Architects/GSA)

The Murrieta Border Patrol Station designed by Garrison Architects

Inside, the building prioritizes ventilation and natural light to create a comfortable environment. The walls are painted bright yellow.

(Photo by Garrison Architects/GSA)

The Cross Border Xpress designed by Legoretta

Built in 2015, the Cross Border Xpress connects San Diego, California with the Tijuana International Airport in Mexico. The architects used bright shades of orange and purple as an homage to the late Mexican architect Ricardo Legoretta, who was known for his vivid pops of color.

(Photo via Legoretta)

The Cross Border Xpress designed by Legoretta

The design focuses on making travel between Mexico and the US faster and easier, the designers told Business Insider. It is "a very much needed bridge in this new era of co-existence between the two nations," the firm wrote.

(Photo via Legoretta)

The San Ysidro Port of Entry designed by The Miller Hull Partnership

California's San Ysidro Port of Entry is the busiest land border crossing in the Western Hemisphere. An expansion of it, set to open in 2019, is "designed to be the port of the future," according to the GSA.

(Photo via The Miller Hull Partnership/GSA)

Source: GSA

The San Ysidro Port of Entry designed by The Miller Hull Partnership

The $735 million project will add 38 additional vehicle inspection booths, and ease traffic at the port.

(Photo via The Miller Hull Partnership/GSA)

Source: GSA

The San Ysidro Port of Entry designed by The Miller Hull Partnership

Like many recently constructed stations, the design shows that border stations don't need to appear hostile. Instead, they present an opportunity for the US to invest in stations that are both beautiful and secure.

(Photo via The Miller Hull Partnership/GSA)

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The report notes that internal estimates of the per-mile cost of a barrier wall have been increasing the longer DHS studies them. "The per-mile cost of the construction extrapolated from the FY 2017 supplemental request totals $16.1 million per mile and FY 2018 totals over $36.6 million per mile," the report finds.

Related: Before the Wall: 18 Photos of the US-Mexico Border

In addition, the price tag for building the wall does not include either the cost of acquiring the privately-owned land the government would have to build it on or the costs of maintaining the structure after it is completed.

The committee looked at what the federal government had paid for borderland in the past when estimating the potential cost of the project.

"In total, the U.S. government paid an average price per acre of $42,600," they found. "In one case in Cameron County, Texas, a landowner was initially offered $233,000 for 3.1 acres. After a three-year legal battle, the government eventually paid at least $4.7 million, a nearly 2,000 percent increase over the initial offer."

In many cases, where the government moved to take land from unwilling owners, cases have dragged on in court for years. "CBP has informed Committee staff that in over 90 instances, condemnation cases remain unresolved nearly 10 years later and the fence has not been built in those locations. The potential liability of the pending condemnation cases is $21 million."

RELATED: Life along the US-Mexico border

21 PHOTOS
Life along Mexico's border with the United States
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Life along Mexico's border with the United States
IMPERIAL SAND DUNES, CA - SEPTEMBER 28: A digger removes sand drifts from the Mexican side of the U.S.-Mexico border fence on September 28, 2016 in the Imperial Sand Dunes recreation center, California. Without daily removal of the sand, the dunes would cover the fence and undocumented immigrants and smugglers could simply walk over it. The border stretches almost 2,000 miles between Mexico and the United States. Border security and immigration issues have become major issues in the U.S. Presidential campaign. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
TIJUANA, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 25: People meet loved ones through the U.S.-Mexico border fence on September 25, 2016 in Tijuana, Mexico. The U.S. Border Patrol opens the park on the American side in San Diego on weekends to meet through the fence with family and friends through the fence at Tijuana. The park is one of the few places on the 2,000-mile border where separated families are allowed to meet. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
TIJUANA, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 24: Haitian refugees look over donated items at an immigrant center on September 24, 2016 in Tijuana, Mexico. In recent months a surge of Haitian refugees has arrived to Tijuana, seeking asylum at the border crossing into the United States. The center, called the Desayunador Salesiano Padre Chava, serves breakfast to more than 1,000 immigrants daily, many of them deportees from the United States. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
IMPERIAL SAND DUNES, CA - SEPTEMBER 28: A digger removes sand drifts along the U.S.-Mexico border fence on September 28, 2016 in the Imperial Sand Dunes recreation center, California. Without daily removal of the sand, the dunes would cover the fence and undocumented immigrants and smugglers could simply walk over it. The border stretches almost 2,000 miles between Mexico and the United States. Border security and immigration issues have become major issues in the U.S. Presidential campaign. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
TIJUANA, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 25: People enjoy a late afternoon near the U.S.-Mexico border fence on September 25, 2016 in Tijuana, Mexico. Friendship Park, located on the border between the two countries is one of the few places on the 2,000-mile border where separated families are allowed to meet. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
TIJUANA, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 24: Immigrants, many of them deportees from the United States, eat breakfast at a soup kitchen on September 24, 2016 in Tijuana, Mexico. The center, called the Desayunador Salesiano Padre Chava, is run by a Catholic order of priests and feeds more than than 1,000 immigrants each morning. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
TIJUANA, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 24: People stand in line to cross legally into the United States from Mexico on September 24, 2016 in Tijuana, Mexico. Securing the border and controlling illegal immigration have become key issues in the U.S. Presidential campaign. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
TIJUANA, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 25: A couple holds hands while meeting loved ones through the U.S.-Mexico border fence on September 25, 2016 in Tijuana, Mexico. The U.S. Border Patrol opens the park on the American side in San Diego on weekends to meet through the fence with family and friends through the fence at Tijuana. The park is one of the few places on the 2,000-mile border where separated families are allowed to meet. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
TIJUANA, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 25: People enjoy a late afternoon near the U.S.-Mexico border fence which ends in the Pacific Ocean on September 25, 2016 in Tijuana, Mexico. Friendship Park, located on the border between the two countries is one of the few places on the 2,000-mile border where separated families are allowed to meet. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
TIJUANA, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 25: Mexicans enjoy a late afternoon near the U.S.-Mexico border fence which ends in the Pacific Ocean on September 25, 2016 in Tijuana, Mexico. Friendship Park, located on the border between the two countries is one of the few places on the 2,000-mile border where separated families are allowed to meet. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
TIJUANA, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 25: A child plays in the Pacific surf near the U.S.-Mexico border fence on September 25, 2016 in Tijuana, Mexico. The nearby Friendship Park is one of the few places on the 2,000-mile border where separated families are allowed to meet. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
TIJUANA, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 25: Immigrant activists pray at the U.S.-Mexico border fence on September 25, 2016 in Tijuana, Mexico. The U.S. Border Patrol opens the park on the American side in San Diego on weekends to meet through the fence with family and friends through the fence at Tijuana. The park is one of the few places on the 2,000-mile border where separated families are allowed to meet. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
TIJUANA, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 25: Maria Rodriguez Torres, 70, embraces a grandchild after seeing her other grandchildren for the first time through the U.S.-Mexico border fence on September 25, 2016 in Tijuana, Mexico. She had traveled with family members from Mexico City to see her grandchildren through the fence at 'Friendship Park.' The U.S. Border Patrol opens the park on the American side on weekends to meet through the fence with family and friends through the fence at Tijuana. The park is one of the few places on the 2,000-mile border where separated families are allowed to meet. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
JACAMBA HOT SPRINGS, CA - SEPTEMBER 26: Residents line up to receive free food at mobile food pantry near the U.S.-Mexico border on September 26, 2016 in Jacamba Hot Springs, California. The Feeding America truck delivers to the border town's needy residents twice a month. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
JACAMBA HOT SPRINGS, CA - SEPTEMBER 26: A U.S. Border Patrol vehicle stands guard along the U.S.-Mexico border fence on September 26, 2016 in Jacamba Hot Springs, California. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
JACAMBA HOT SPRINGS, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 26: A cardboard cutout of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is on display at a debate-watching party for supporters of Hillary Clinton at the Yum Yum Chinese restaurant near the U.S.-Mexico border on September 26, 2016 in Calexico, California. People across the country tuned in as Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton participated in their first debate. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
HOLTVILLE, CA - SEPTEMBER 27: Mexican farm workers hoe a cabbage field on September 27, 2016 Holtville, California. Thousands of Mexican seasonal workers legally cross the border daily from Mexicali, Mexico to work the fields of Imperial Valley, California, some of the most productive farmland in the United States. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
HOLTVILLE, CA - SEPTEMBER 27: A A Mexican farm worker plows a U.S. farm on September 27, 2016 in Holtville, California. Thousands of Mexican seasonal workers legally cross the border daily from Mexicali, Mexico to work the fields of Imperial Valley, California, some of the most productive farmland in the United States. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
HOLTVILLE, CA - SEPTEMBER 27: A marker stands over an immigrant's grave on September 27, 2016 in Holtville, California. Hundreds of immigrants, many who died while crossing the desert from Mexico into the United States, are buried in a pauper's cemetery. Many of the grave markers simply read 'John Doe.' (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
TIJUANA, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 25: A man looks through the U.S.-Mexico border fence into the United States on September 25, 2016 in Tijuana, Mexico. Friendship Park on the border is one of the few places on the 2,000-mile border where separated families are allowed to meet. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
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Related: Homeland Security Just Gave Trump a New Reason to Build the Wall

An effort to acquire land stretching the full length of the border could be more expensive by order of magnitude.

Finally, the report points out that maintenance of the wall once it's built could run to $150 million per year.

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