The Documents Behind Trump’s Texas Border Wall Plans

The records give the most in-depth picture to date of where and how the Trump administration plans to build the president’s “big, beautiful wall.”

The records give the most in-depth picture to date of where and how the Trump administration plans to build the president’s “big, beautiful wall.”


A segment of levee wall completed in 2011.  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/FOIA request

Last week the Observer revealed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers documents that show where the Trump administration plans to build 33 miles of border wall in South Texas. Churches, cemeteries, hundreds of homeowners, retirees at an RV park and three wildlife areas are all in the crosshairs.

Now, the Observer is releasing additional documents, obtained under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, that include timelines for construction, cost estimates and locations for border wall segments. In one email, Army Corps engineers and government officials discuss the construction of additional segments of border wall. In another document, U.S. Customs and Border Protection gives Corps engineers and private contractors a communication strategy to deal with the media and landowners: “Intense media scrutiny,” the document warns. “This is a controversial project generating great public interest. This is also a fast-paced program where unexpected developments can be expected.”

Strategic communication advisory for border wall construction:

A spreadsheet created by Corps engineers reveals a rating system the administration is using to rank the difficulty of building each segment, based on the topography and the legal difficulty of taking over the land. To read more about the implications of these documents, see last week’s article.

Database on status of various segments earmarked for construction in South Texas:

These FOIA documents were provided by the Sierra Club to the Observer, and to date give the most in-depth picture of where the Trump administration plans to build the president’s “big, beautiful wall.”

Cost estimates, timelines for construction on southern border:

Explore the remaining documents, which are searchable:



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Melissa del Bosque is a staff writer and a 2016-17 Lannan Fellow at The Investigative Fund.


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