Nearly two years into Donald Trump’s presidency, the border wall that was a signature promise of his campaign hasn’t been built.
And even if he gets all the money he wants from Congress this year, the wall won’t be anywhere near finished.
Contractors have replaced miles of dilapidated fencing with more modern alternatives, but they haven’t built barriers anywhere they didn’t exist already.
That could soon change. Construction is scheduled to start in February on a project that will bring 14 miles of new border wall to the Rio Grande Valley.
Meanwhile, Trump and Congress are locked in a shutdown stalemate over funding for more wall construction. Officials say the $5.7 billion the administration is asking for would cover the cost of more than 200 miles of new and replacement wall.
But that would still leave most of the border without a wall.
Here’s a look at what’s already at the border, what construction is planned and what the Trump administration wants to build:
Man-made barriers cover only about a third of the border.
The US-Mexico border stretches for 1,954 miles. Currently, physical barriers cover 654 of those miles, according to US Customs and Border Protection.
What’s known as vehicle fencing covers 280 miles. This is fencing that’s low to the ground. It would stop a car, but people can easily step over it.
What’s known as pedestrian fencing covers some 374 miles. This is taller and designed to block people from crossing on foot.
Some border fencing is made from helicopter landing mats.
There are several pedestrian fence designs in place at different points along the border.
Some areas contain layers of barriers, referred to as primary, secondary and sometimes tertiary fences. Currently about 37 miles of the border have secondary pedestrian barriers, according to CBP.
Much of the older fencing is made from repurposed Vietnam War-era helicopter landing mats. Newer fencing generally consists of 18- to 30-foot-tall steel bollards.
Trump now says his ‘big, beautiful wall’ can be made of steel.
Yes, the President talked a lot about building a concrete wall on the campaign trail. But officials have said for a while that concrete is not the only option. When requesting bids for prototype designs back in March 2017, the focus was on making the wall “physically imposing.”
In recent weeks, the President has expressed a greater interest in a barrier made of steel slats. It’s not clear exactly what that means; some have pointed out it sounds a lot like the steel bollard fencing that’s already in place at some points along the border – which experts have long said would be the better option.
The wall prototypes have gone by the wayside.
As you might recall, construction firms built eight wall prototypes at the border – four designed to be 30-foot concrete walls, four made of other materials – that were then subjected to testing.
Some reports have suggested they didn’t do that well in tests conducted by breaching experts, though the results haven’t been made public.
Customs and Border Protection officials have sidestepped questions about what exactly the tests revealed. But they’ve said they were helpful in informing plans for new and replacement fencing that’s currently being installed.