Map: How much of the U.S.-Mexico southern barrier has already been built
Here's what gets lost in the fight over the border wall: This wouldn't be the first time we ever built border barriers or beefed up security. There's already fencing along as much as 690 miles of the border between the U.S. and Mexico, and the number of border agents has almost tripled in the past two decades.
Why it matters: That still leaves more than half of the almost 2,000-mile border uncovered, and there are gaps and dilapidated fencing in the barriers that are in place. The fight that shut down the government in the winter is basically about 234 miles of new border wall that President Trump wants, according to the Trump administration's latest request.
By the numbers: Less than half of the border between the U.S. and Mexico has man-made barriers, according to Reveal News.
- Only 403 miles of fencing is intended to keep out pedestrians, while the rest just keeps out vehicles, according to a study by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, an immigration group that advocates for lowering immigration levels.
- For 36 miles, there is a second tier of pedestrian fencing.
- And for 14 miles, there are three layers of fencing.
- In October, the Department of Homeland Security unveiled the 2.5-mile-long, 30-foot-tall steel slatted barrier in Calexico, California, dubbing it the first completed border wall project — despite the fact that it just replaced existing fencing.
- The border also runs through the rugged, mountainous terrain of Big Bend National Park for 118 miles. Many local government officials fear that a wall would negatively impact wildlife and look bad in the beautiful park, NPR has reported.
- 62 miles of the border are part of the Tohono O'Odham Nation reservation in Arizona. The nation has historic ties to Mexico as well as current tribe members there, and they'd be further cut off from each other if a wall was built, according to USA Today.
Original story: What the fight over Trump's border wall is really about (1/17/19)