This September 2019 article discusses how while the Trump administration had built 65 miles of border fencing, it was all built in areas where there was existing fencing. And how zero new linear miles of fencing, i.e. fencing in areas where there was no fencing before, had been built:

[Acting CBP commissioner] Morgan did acknowledge a difference between what he calls “new wall” and “new linear miles.” The new linear miles would encompass border wall being built in sectors where no barriers — no matter how small — previously existed. He noted that by 2020 the Rio Grande Valley sector could “easily reach 100 new miles of linear wall.” Morgan declined to answer, however, when the Daily Caller asked when Americans can expect the administration to actually break ground on construction projects on new linear miles of wall.

My question is, how has that situation changed since September 2019? How many miles of fencing have been built in areas where there was no fencing before?


2 Answers 2


9 miles (as of October 2020).

Almost all of the approximately 341 miles (as of October 2020) (360 miles according to this source) of "wall" that have been built so far, replaces existing infrastructure.

The lengthy procedure to acquire permission to construct a barrier at these locations has definitionally already occurred, and these locations are more likely to be deserving of a barrier (otherwise, why would a barrier already be there?)

This photograph provides an example of "wall" being constructed to replace existing vehicular border infrastructure:

enter image description here

And this photo shows new "wall" being constructed to replace existing pedestrian border infrastructure:

enter image description here

This site gives detailed geographic information about the construction of the wall.

It claims 341 miles of wall have been constructed (October 2020), but does not not break-down this figure according to where fencing pre-existed.

It does, however, include a map that shows where contracts have been awarded, whether they replace existing infrastructure, and their completion status. The majority of the wall appears to be replacement for existing infrastructure:

The total length of the US southern border is 1,954 miles. According to one source, 130 miles of border has topography that makes artificial barriers unnecessary (eg. river crossings), leaving 1,824 miles.

If these figures are correct, as of October 2020 18% of the total border length now has a “Trump wall”.

That said, it should be borne in mind that ease of crossing will vary considerably along the length of the border. Due to the sheer remoteness of much of the border, wall is not planned-for or necessary. Instead electronic monitoring towers suffice for large sections of the border.

Presumably the focus for construction has been driven by considerations such as:

  1. Availability of federal funding
  2. Prevalence of illegal crossings at each border location
  3. Legal status of land at each location, and
  4. Topography, including presence of natural obstacles (rivers, mountains etc)

The following photographs show some of the existing border infrastructure. Pedestrian and vehicular.

enter image description here enter image description here

Update, Feb 2020: the Pentagon has announced it will divert USD 3.8 billion from previously allocated military funding, for wall construction.

  • 1
    This doesn’t answer my question of how many miles of fencing have been built in areas where there was no fencing before. Jan 27, 2020 at 16:30
  • 4
    Yes it does: very few.
    – 52d6c6af
    Jan 27, 2020 at 16:56
  • 1
    I was unable to find a way to calculate a good number. As far as I can tell, the infrastructure that does not replace existing infrastructure is mired in a lengthy approval process (eg wildlife concerns, impact on local area etc). The other answer points to a tiny bit of infrastructure being under construction - that's probably about right. A tiny amount. Finally, this makes perfect sense: the important bits of the border will already have infrastructure in place. But as can be seen from the photograph in my answer, it is clearly inadequate and so replacement is entirely valid.
    – 52d6c6af
    Jan 27, 2020 at 21:20
  • 1
    The number is almost certainly less than fifty miles. Probably substantially less due to the approval process non-replacement infrastructure needs to go through.
    – 52d6c6af
    Jan 27, 2020 at 21:21
  • 3
    Yes. No bollard fence is inpenetrable. However, where previously people could simply walk across, or climb over the fence, they now need a $100 hand tool, a specialized cutting head, plenty of time, and luck that Border Patrol ignore the noise and the alert from the electronic sensors embedded in the bollards.
    – 52d6c6af
    Jan 29, 2020 at 15:35

My question is, how has that situation changed since September 2019? How many miles of fencing have been built in areas where there was no fencing before?

Maybe 8 miles, though probably less.

Under Construction in Texas: The First New Section of Border Wall (Paywall), Nov. 8, 2019.

Eight miles of original fencing are going up in the Rio Grande Valley, the first new wall to be built under President Trump. The administration wants 500 total miles constructed by 2021.

Construction on the first new section of border wall, where nothing stood previously, started just south of Donna, Texas, in late October.

It began months behind schedule. It will cost about $167 million. And when it is done, this landmark section of the contentious wall project — a symbol of Mr. Trump’s presidency and a flash point for his critics — will extend the hard border with Mexico by just eight miles.

Image of the first two panels, as of Nov. 7.

Decade ends with new border walls going up in South Texas, Updated: Dec 31, 2019.

On Tuesday morning, Border Patrol agents escorted Border Report onto the site south of the town of Donna, Texas, where 33 panels of the 18-foot-tall wall have been built a few miles east of the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.

Portion of US border wall in California falls over in high winds and lands on Mexican side, January 29, 2020.

Earlier this month, the administration announced that the wall had reached the 100-mile mark, the majority of which was replacing barriers with newer, enhanced designs, and around half a mile was constructed in the Rio Grande Valley where no wall previously existed. [Emboldening added.]

  • But have any of those eight miles actually been built yet? Jan 26, 2020 at 14:12
  • 2
    @KeshavSrinivasan - Images (apparently drone video) with the article show the first panels in place. That was in November.
    – Rick Smith
    Jan 26, 2020 at 14:20
  • 2
    OK, but is any portion of those 8 miles actually done? Jan 26, 2020 at 14:21
  • @KeshavSrinivasan Yes, it is.
    – Sjoerd
    Jan 29, 2020 at 14:23

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .