Audit the Wall

Whether you support President Trump’s initiative to build a wall between the United States and Mexico or not, every dollar the government spends on the project belongs to American taxpayers. The American people have a right to know how their money is being spent, whether the procurement process treats all American businesses fairly, and how the government is addressing environmental, worker safety, and border property owner concerns.

There are a number of critical questions about the wall and the American people deserve answers. American Oversight is auditing the wall to get them:

How much is the wall going to cost and who is going to pay?

President Trump has gone from claiming that “Mexico will pay for the wall” to his current position that American taxpayers are going to have to foot the bill – at least initially. With a project that could cost anywhere between $12 and $70 billion – and with the administration changing its public position daily – it is essential to know how much the government expects this wall to cost and who they expect to pay for it.

Is the government following the rules?

President Trump says he will be personally involved in the budget and design process for the wall – and even before he took office, there were news reports that Trump had contacted a real estate developer to ask him to build the wall. The federal procurement process has very specific rules to ensure that taxpayers get the best value for their money, and any large construction projects must go through a rigorous bidding process. If the president is planning to interfere in the process and violate contracting rules, that raises serious red flags about the potential for favoritism or conflicts of interest.

What will be the environmental impact of a wall?

Building a physical, 30-foot-tall wall along the entire 2,000 mile U.S.-Mexico border would have an environmental impact on a scale unlike any infrastructure project in recent memory. The wall would bisect multiple wildlife refuges and national parks and potentially threaten a number of endangered and protected species. Government agencies are required to conduct environmental impact assessments before moving forward with infrastructure projects – but it is not clear what, if any, environmental assessments the Trump administration has done or intends to do for the wall project.

How will a wall affect border communities, including Native American tribes and local property owners?

Local residents along the border have started receiving Declarations of Taking from DHS – a preliminary step before the government could seize their land through eminent domain. The president has already requested increased funding for the Department of Justice to hire lawyers dedicated to land disputes.

At the same time, the Tohono O’odham Nation has made it very clear that it does not want a wall built through the middle of its territory which spans both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. Federal law requires the government to consult with the tribe before making any changes to how the land is used.

What impact would a border wall actually have on security?

It is not at all clear that a physical wall along the length of the U.S.-Mexico border – as President Trump has proposed – would significantly improve border security. Nor is it clear that a “virtual wall” using surveillance techniques and remote sensors would be any more effective now than it was in 2010 when the SBInet program was canceled. As DHS Secretary Kelly told a Senate committee in April, most drugs come into the country through the existing ports of entry rather than on the backs of smugglers walking across the desert.

Follow our investigation on Twitter @WeAreOversight #AuditTheWall

Updates

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.

Statement on Waiver of Environmental Regulations for Border Wall

August 1, 2017
"Today's announcement by DHS is a disturbing sign that President Trump will barrel ahead with building a border wall no matter the cost to taxpayers or effect on our environment."
Show all updates

Related Documents

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 Records of ALT_uscis Twitter Account Investigation

Department of Homeland Security
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