Audit the Wall

In 2017, American Oversight launched its investigation into the administration’s plans for building a wall between the United States and Mexico. Our Audit the Wall inquiry sought to reveal whether the government’s preparations treated all American businesses fairly, whether it adequately addressed environmental, worker safety, and property-owner concerns — or, as it turns out, whether there were any preparations at all.

A December 2018 American Oversight report, “Audit the Wall: No Plans, No Funding, No Timeline, No Wall,” found that President Donald Trump’s repeated claims that his administration is building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border are largely false. No matter Americans’ opinions on Trump’s insistence on building the wall, they have a right to know how their money is being spent — especially since Trump’s vow to make Mexico pay for the wall is going nowhere. Estimates of the wall’s total cost have varied, sometimes reaching as high as $70 billion, and the administration has failed to accurately determine how much taxpayers would be expected to spend, failing to consider factors such as topography and land ownership.

Beginning in 2017, American Oversight filed multiple Freedom of Information Act requests to the Department of Homeland Security and other related agencies to uncover not only the costs of construction, but the procurement process, the proposed schedule for building, and considerations of environmental impact and property ownership.

Records we obtained in September 2017 revealed that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had serious concerns about the “likely irreparable” ecological damage building a wall would inflict on wildlife in the Rio Grande Valley. We also uncovered communications that indicate the government had made almost no efforts to engage with leaders of the Tohono O’odham nation, a sovereign Native American tribe that controls 62 miles of border land. Similarly, the administration has not made adequate legal preparations for likely eminent-domain challenges, which are bound to arise considering that most border land without a fence is privately owned.

Despite Trump’s reliance on using the wall as a rallying cry for his political base, our investigation has revealed his administration’s inaction and its failure to seriously consider the effects of such a massive infrastructure project. American Oversight is currently suing DHS and CBP for the release of additional documents and communications that could uncover conflicts of interest and shed light on administration plans — or lack thereof.

Follow our investigation on Twitter @WeAreOversight #AuditTheWall

Updates

Audit the Wall: No Plans, Funding or Timeline — And No Wall

December 12, 2018
American Oversight's investigation into the administration’s preparations for fulfilling Trump's promise to build a border wall reveal it to be nothing more than a rhetorical tool.

New Lawsuit Seeks DHS Border Wall Emails with White House, Fox News, Border States

February 9, 2018
Nonpartisan ethics watchdog American Oversight today sued the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to release emails relating to President Trump's proposed border wall sent between senior officials at the department and individuals in the White House, anti-immigration activist groups, and conservative media outlets including Breitbart and Fox News.  

“Serious, Likely Irreparable” Damage from Border Wall

September 29, 2017
Government records obtained by American Oversight show that officials at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have concerns about the potential environmental impact of President Trump's proposed all along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Show all updates

Related Documents

November 15, 2018

CBP Emails with White House Staff Regarding Plans for Constructing a Border Wall

Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security
Agency Record
November 15, 2018

DHS Records of ALT_uscis Twitter Account Investigation

Department of Homeland Security
Agency Record
November 8, 2018

FOIA to CBP Regarding Wall Prototypes

Customs and Border Protection
FOIA Request
September 6, 2018

CBP Communications With Fox News and Breitbart About Border Wall Construction

Customs and Border Protection
Agency Record
September 6, 2018

No Records Response From DHS Regarding WH Communications About Wall Contract

Department of Homeland Security
Agency Reply
August 29, 2018

DHS Communications About the Cost of and Appropriations for a Border Wall

Department of Homeland Security
Agency Record
August 29, 2018

DHS Records Concerning the Schedule for Border Wall Construction

Department of Homeland Security
Agency Record
August 27, 2018

CBP Response Regarding Record Referred From DHS

Agency Reply
August 21, 2018

CBP Response to Request Regarding Reassessing the SBInet Program

Customs and Border Protection
Agency Reply
August 18, 2018

No Records Response from DHS Regarding the Impact of a Border Wall on Tribal Land

Department of Homeland Security
Agency Reply
August 18, 2018

No Records Response from DHS Regarding Reassessing the SBInet Program

Department of Homeland Security
Agency Reply
August 18, 2018

No Records Response from DHS Regarding Eminent Romain Requirements for a Wall

Department of Homeland Security
Agency Reply
July 23, 2018

FOIA to DHS Regarding the Use of Ships to Compose the Border Wall

Department of Homeland Security, United States Coast Guard
FOIA Request
June 28, 2018

CBP Records Regarding Funding for a Border Wall

Customs and Border Protection
Agency Record
June 26, 2018

DHS Communications With States About Border Wall

Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security
Agency Record
June 6, 2018

DHS Wall Budget Discussions and Congressional Budget Justification

Department of Homeland Security
Agency Record
June 6, 2018

DHS Records Related to Secretary Kelly and the Wall

Department of Homeland Security
Agency Record
May 31, 2018

FOIA to OMB Seeking Email Regarding Border Wall

Office of Management and Budget
FOIA Request
April 30, 2018

Records From DHS Regarding SBInet Program

Department of Homeland Security
Agency Record
February 9, 2018

Complaint: American Oversight v. DHS – Border Wall Communications

Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security
Litigation
February 2, 2018

DHS Communications with Congress Regarding the Secure Fence Act of 2006

Department of Homeland Security
Agency Record
January 29, 2018

Records From OMB Regarding Wall Budget Discussions

Agency Record
December 14, 2017

Records From OMB Regarding Wall Budget

Office of Management and Budget
Agency Record
November 29, 2017

No Records Response From DOJ Regarding Eminent Domain and the Wall

Department of Justice
Agency Reply
November 2, 2017

FOIA to DHS Regarding Costs of US-Mexico Border

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
November 2, 2017

FOIA to DHS for Stakeholder Communications Regarding the Wall

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
October 23, 2017

No Records Response Regarding Construction of the Wall

Department of Homeland Security
Agency Reply
October 12, 2017

No Records Response from DOJ Regarding Eminent Domain and the Wall for USAO Arizona

Department of Justice
Agency Reply
October 12, 2017

DOJ Records Regarding Eminent Domain and the Border Wall

Department of Justice
Agency Record
October 12, 2017

DHS Communications with Tohono O’odham regarding Border Wall

Department of Homeland Security
Agency Record
October 2, 2017

FOIA to DHS for White House Communications Regarding the Wall

Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
September 26, 2017

Fish and Wildlife Documents Concerning Environmental Impact of Border Wall

Department of the Interior
Agency Record
August 19, 2017

DHS Response to FOIA Request About Wall Contracting

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
August 18, 2017

No Records Response from DHS Regarding Construction or Funding for the Border Wall

Department of Homeland Security
Agency Reply
August 18, 2017

No Records Response from DHS Regarding Eminent Domain

Department of Homeland Security
Agency Reply
August 18, 2017

No Records Response From DHS Regarding the Tohono O’odham Nation

Department of Homeland Security
Agency Reply
August 18, 2017

No Records Response From DHS Regarding SBInet

Department of Homeland Security
Agency Reply
August 15, 2017

No Records Response From DHS Regarding Border Wall Special Report

Department of Homeland Security
Agency Reply
August 8, 2017

DOJ Records of Communications with the Tohono O’odham Nation

Department of Justice
Agency Record
July 31, 2017

FOIA Request to DOD Border Wall Contacts and Acquisitions

Department of Defense
FOIA Request
July 31, 2017

FOIA Request to DHS OIG Border Wall Special Report

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
July 31, 2017

FOIA Request to DHS Solar Panels

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
July 31, 2017

FOIA Request to DHS Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
July 31, 2017

FOIA to DHS for State Government Communications Regarding the Wall

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
July 17, 2017

No Records Response Regarding Eminent Domain Border Wall

Department of Justice
Agency Reply
July 14, 2017

DHS No Responsive Records for Communications with Charles Johnson or Palmer Luckey

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
June 16, 2017

FOIA Request to State Department Plans for Mexico to Pay for the Wall

Department of State
FOIA Request
June 16, 2017

FOIA Request to State Department Communications with Mexico Regarding Border Wall

Department of State
FOIA Request
June 16, 2017

FOIA Request to DHS People Who Will Make Decisions About Border Wall Contracts

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
June 16, 2017

FOIA Request to DHS Communications with Charles Johnson or Palmer Luckey

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
June 16, 2017

Complaint: American Oversight v. DHS, DOI, OMB – Audit the Wall

Department of Homeland Security, Department of the Interior, Office of Management and Budget
Litigation
June 9, 2017

CBP No Records Response Regarding Wall Contracts

Department of Homeland Security
Agency Reply
May 24, 2017

No Records Response From DOD Regarding the Border Wall

Department of Defense
Agency Reply
May 3, 2017

FOIA Request to Customs and Border Protection Communications about Border Wall

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
May 3, 2017

FOIA Request to DHS Guidance regarding the use of FY2017 funds for Border Wall

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
May 3, 2017

FOIA Request to DOJ Legal Advice regarding use of FY2017 funds for Border Wall

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
May 3, 2017

FOIA Request to OMB Communications Regarding Funding for Border Wall in Omnibus Appropriations Bill

Office of Management and Budget
FOIA Request
April 27, 2017

FOIA to DOI Regarding the Impact of the Proposed Border Wall on Endangered Species

Department of the Interior
FOIA Request
April 27, 2017

FOIA to EPA Regarding the Impact of the Proposed Border Wall on Endangered Species

Environmental Protection Agency
FOIA Request
April 26, 2017

No Records Response from the National Parks Service Regarding the Border Wall’s Environmental Impact

Department of the Interior
Agency Reply
April 25, 2017

FOIA Request to OMB Seeking Communications with Congress Regarding Border Wall Funding

Office of Management and Budget
FOIA Request
April 7, 2017

FOIA Request to DHS Regarding the Decision to Pursue Identity of Critical Twitter User

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
April 5, 2017

FOIA Request to DHS Materials Related to Sec Kelly Congressional Testimony

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
March 29, 2017

FOIA Request to Interior Seeking Zinke’s Calendars Containing Border Wall Meetings

Department of the Interior
FOIA Request
March 29, 2017

FOIA Request to Interior Seeking Assessments of the Environmental Impact of the Border Wall

Department of the Interior
FOIA Request
March 29, 2017

FOIA Request to Army Corps of Engineers Seeking Assessments of the Environmental Impact of the Border Wall

Department of Defense
FOIA Request
March 29, 2017

FOIA Request to Army Corps of Engineers Regarding Use of Eminent Domain and the Border Wall

Department of Defense
FOIA Request
March 29, 2017

FOIA Request to DOJ Regarding Use of Eminent Domain for Border Wall

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
March 29, 2017

FOIA Request to DHS Regarding Sovereign Tribal Lands and Construction of Border Wall

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
March 29, 2017

FOIA Request to DHS Seeking Communications with the Tohono O’odham Nation

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
March 29, 2017

FOIA Request to DOJ Seeking Communications with the Tohono O’odham Nation

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
March 29, 2017

FOIA Request to Interior Department Seeking Correspondence with Tohono O’odham Nation

Department of the Interior
FOIA Request
March 21, 2017

FOIA Request to DHS Seeking Communications Regarding the SBInet Program

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
March 21, 2017

FOIA Request to DHS Seeking Costs of and Funds Allocated for the Border Wall

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
March 21, 2017

FOIA Request to DHS Seeking Assessments of Border Wall’s Environmental Impact

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
March 21, 2017

FOIA Request to DHS Seeking Communications Regarding the Secure Fence Act of 2006

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
March 21, 2017

FOIA Request to DHS Seeking Records Regarding Use of Eminent Domain for the Border Wall

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
March 21, 2017

FOIA Request to DHS Seeking Records Related to Border Wall Contracts and Proposals

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request
March 21, 2017

FOIA to DHS Seeking the Schedule for the Initiation and Construction of the Wall

Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Request