When it comes to his signature 2016 campaign promise, President Donald Trump is keeping it in the family. The president has reportedly put his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in charge of overseeing construction on a border wall. Trump has set an ambitious agenda to build 450 miles of new barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border by the end of 2020. Now, Kushner is handling the tricky details like how and where to allocate funding, choosing contractors to do the building, and dealing with the acquisition of private land that is necessary for much of the wall.
So far, the Trump administration has completed 83 miles of new border barriers, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The slow progress has frustrated some border security advocates and Trump supporters, but other GOP leaders see this deliberate process as a positive thing. "(Putting Kushner in charge) means that Trump is willing to take his time on this and do his due diligence...these are real estate moguls---they know what they're doing, they've acquired property before, and they know how to make it happen," says Andy Hogue with the Travis County Republican Party. "If this were taken care of in one fell swoop back in 2017, we'd have a lot of the wall constructed, but there would be a greater cost, and more property taken without due process being considered."
The issue of land acquisition is a particularly thorny one, with more than 800 pieces of private property needed to complete the wall. "To save money in the long run, they have to make sure the property acquisition is done correctly," says Hogue. "There could be lawsuits several decades in length over property acquisition rights."
Beyond all of the logistical issues, Hogue believes the slower building process actually helps the president politically. "The longer this goes on, the longer Trump can say I'm building the wall, and with some progress to show for it that can actually help in 2020," he says.