The Department of Homeland Security invested $20 million in the contest to build prototypes for President Trump’s border wall, only to discover that most of them were impractical for the tough terrain along the U.S.-Mexico line, the government’s chief watchdog said Monday.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agency overseeing the project, also cut corners in deciding where to build the first miles of the wall last year and still doesn’t have a good method for evaluating the costs and benefits for where new segments should be built, according to investigators at the Government Accountability Office.
The findings, which come as Mr. Trump is threatening to shut down the government unless he gets a massive infusion of cash for more wall-building in Congress’ fiscal 2019 spending bills, could damage the White House’s efforts.
“To be blunt, this administration has no clue what it is doing and must be held accountable,” said Rep. Bennie G. Thompson of Mississippi, the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee.
The administration said it is committed to construction and that the illegal flow of people and drugs has dropped dramatically where fencing has been erected.
“Walls have proven to be extremely effective at deterring illegal entries and the smuggling of illicit drugs into the United States,” said Katie Waldman, a spokeswoman for the Homeland Security Department.