Legislative Activity

Democratic Senate Staff Report Examines Costs of Proposed Border Wall

On Tuesday, April 18, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee minority staff released a report detailing the costs of the Trump Administration’s proposed concrete wall along the United States’ southern border. The report, which claims the wall could cost nearly $70 billion, used U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) cost estimates for certain sections of the wall to extrapolate the project’s total cost. CBP’s cost estimates were also published by Committee staff.

The report notes that the analysis does not include land acquisition costs and states that projected per-mile costs for the wall are “rapidly increasing,” as extrapolated construction costs for FY 2018 totals over $36.6 million per-mile. It also notes that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will reprogram $20 million for prototypes, design standards, and planning for the wall. The report states that the funding will also be used to complete an enforcement zone in San Diego and that maintenance costs for the wall may run as high as $150 million annually.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • On Wednesday, April 26, the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities has scheduled a hearing titled “Creating a Flexible and Effective Information Technology Management and Acquisitions System: Elements for Success in a Rapidly Changing Landscape.”
  • On Thursday, April 27, the House Armed Services Committee has scheduled a Member Day hearing.
  • On Thursday, April 27, the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security has scheduled a hearing titled “The Border Wall: Strengthening our National Security.”

Executive Branch Activity

President Trump Signs Buy American and Hire American Executive Order

Following through on his promise to put “America first,” President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) on April 18 titled “Buy American and Hire American,” a two-part document addressing both procurement and immigration programs.  As he announced the EO in Wisconsin – a state that helped him win the 2016 election – President Trump relied on many of the populist themes that drove his presidential campaign, pledging the EO would help end the “theft of American prosperity” and “protect workers and students.”  Further information on the EO, including our analysis of what it means, is available here.

Trump Administration Warns “Sanctuary Cities” on Grant Funding

On Friday, April 21, the Department of Justice (DOJ) sent letters to nine jurisdictions requiring them to demonstrate compliance with 8 U.S.C. 1373, which restricts local law enforcement from implementing policies that prohibit the sharing of an individual’s immigration information with the federal government, or risk losing federal grant funding. The letters cite requirements included in FY 2016 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program applications that made awards conditional on Sec. 1373 compliance. Jurisdictions were informed that they must submit documentation and legal opinions verifying Sec. 1373 compliance by June 30, 2017.

The letters come amid Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ visit to San Diego, California to tour the U.S.-Mexico border. During the trip, Attorney General Sessions announced the letters and argued that sanctuary jurisdictions “put criminals back [in the] streets” and put “innocent life – including the lives of countless law-abiding immigrants – in danger by refusing to share vital information with the federal government.”  Secretary Kelly and Attorney General Sessions were joined by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.