Will Trump Finally Get His Border Wall In 2018?

One of President Donald Trump's most popular campaign promises was his pledge to build a "continuous and impassable wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border, and that Mexico would pay for it.

Mexico has vowed it won't give a penny, but so far, Trump still maintains that the border wall is coming. On Friday, the President reiterated his position in an interview with The New York Times.

“Look, I wouldn’t do a DACA plan without a wall,” Trump told the Times, referring to the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protected some 700,000 so-called 'Dreamers,' people who arrived to the country as children at risk of deportation—the majority of whom are either employed, going to school, business owners, or enlisted in the military—set to expire in March. "We need it. We see the drugs pouring into the country, we need the wall.”

Yet despite the overwhelming support for the wall from Trump's supporters, building the border wall will take massive political will that many experts say might be insurmountable.

Earlier this year, senior leadership with the Democratic Party denounced the border wall along economic lines. In April, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that American taxpayers should not “foot the bill for a multi-billion dollar boondoggle.” Later that month, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer lambasted the wall in a tweet, saying that the project was “a pointless waste of taxpayer money.”

Trump and his allies earlier tried to work around these concerns by suggesting to put solar panels on the wall, saying that energy generated by the panels would pay for the development costs.

But according to an estimate by Quartz, the wall would still cost "somewhere between $68 billion to $158 billion," including the addition of the solar panels. But here’s the catch: The transmission infrastructure needed to transfer the energy from the panels to the electric grid doesn’t exist.

RTX3P0GY A woman cries as 'Dreamers' meet with relatives during the 'Keep Our Dream Alive' binational meeting at a new section of the border wall on the U.S.-Mexico border in Sunland Park, U.S., opposite the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, December 10, 2017. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

Environmental groups have also expressed concerns over the potential impact of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Aside from the massive carbon footprint associated with the transport of raw materials, the U.S.-Mexico border is also home to many endangered species that routinely move between both sides of the Rio Bravo. The jaguar is one these species. As reported in Science earlier this year, the border wall would decimate the jaguar population across North America.

The President’s border wall would require the federal government to seize a bunch of privately-owned land across the border. As noted by The Washington Post, “most Texas land” along the border “is privately owned,” meaning that the feds would have to sue “hundreds of private property owners to obtain title to their land to allow for the construction of segments of the wall on that land."

Despite these concerns, some Republicans maintain that the wall is beneficial for the country, but not enough of them support the measure to get it done.

In September, USA TODAY asked the 534 members of the House and Senate whether they support the $1.6 billion down payment on the border wall pitched by Trump during the summer.

"Fewer than 25% of Republicans willing to stand up for the plan," according to the paper. "Among the rest, three Republicans said they oppose the money, several evaded a direct answer, and the rest simply refused to respond to the question."

Still, the fight to protect Dreamers might push some Democrats to concede and support (or cease to oppose) funding for the border wall. 

"The Democrats have been told, and fully understand, that there can be no DACA without the desperately needed WALL," Trump tweeted last week.

Whether or not Democrats will concede to Trump's demands on the border wall is still up in the air. But immigrant rights groups are holding Democrats accountable to forego giving into Trump's demands.

Karen Tumlin, legal director for the National Immigration Law Center, tweeted earlier this week that Dreamers should not be used as a "bargaining chip."

And as reported by the Arizona Daily Sun, Democrat Rep. Raul Grijalva called Trump’s negotiation posture “extortion," adding that Democrats should ignore the rhetoric and work toward a permanent solution like the DREAM Act.