“So the money could boost revenue, but it’s not Mexico paying,” Mr. Ortiz-Mena said. “It will be U.S. companies or U.S. workers at the end of the day paying for the wall.” After exploring a few other long-shot scenarios, he said: “I can’t see it. Sorry.”
Some of Mr. Trump’s supporters also can’t see it, and have taken matters into their own hands. A crowdfunding effort for a U.S.-Mexico border wall has raised nearly than $17 million. More than 279,400 people have donated to the GoFundMe page, titled “We the People Will Fund the Wall,” which aims to raise $1 billion.
Other economists say the price tag for a wall is a moving target—partly because of Mr. Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs. In recent days, the president has modified his description of what his “big, beautiful, impenetrable” wall would look like, suggesting that steel slats would do the trick.
“We don’t use the word ‘wall’ necessarily, but it has to be something special to do the job—steel slats,” Mr. Trump said last week.
Prices for steel and aluminum, both imported and domestic, are on the rise due to the administration’s global trade dispute. Mr. Trump placed tariffs on all countries from which the U.S. imports the metals, save a few exceptions.
The move “increases both the price of steel you import from countries like Mexico and Canada, but it also leads to increases to the price of steel you make in the United States,” said Chad Bown, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “American steel companies don’t face as much competition from imports so they are able to jack up their prices and charge American taxpayers more for infrastructure projects like the border wall.”