Fact Check: George P. Bush Says Just 150 Miles Of Trump’s Border Wall Have Been Built

Our weekly check-in with the Texas Truth-O-Meter.

By Brandon Mulder, PolitiFact/Austin American-Statesman; radio story produced by Kristen CabreraJune 23, 2021 10:15 am,

Bush lowballs border wall mileage

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush wants to continue a project left unfinished by former President Donald Trump.

As part of his recently-launched bid to unseat Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in the 2022 Republican primary, Bush has designs to join other state leaders in finishing the border wall using state resources.

In a June 9 interview on Fox Business, Bush took a moment to blast Vice President Kamala Harris and the Biden administration for its perceived inaction in response to the influx of migrants arriving at the southern U.S. border.

“There’s absolutely no sense of urgency,” Bush told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo. “We see an uncompleted wall that was duly appropriated dollars during the Trump days to build over 700 miles. Only 150 miles were constructed.”

Continuing construction on the border wall in Texas is emerging as a popular commitment among Texas Republican leaders and candidates as the Republican primary cycle begins. It is one of former Republican state Sen. Don Huffines’ central campaign pledges in his campaign for governor. And on Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that his office would be pursuing construction of a state-owned border wall financed by $250 million from the state combined with private donations solicited online.

Trump indeed fell short of his original border wall goals. His 2016 campaign initially promised 1,000 miles of barriers along the 2,000 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, but by 2017 that goal shifted to “anywhere from 700 to 900 miles.” In 2020 the goalposts moved again to “about 537 miles altogether.” And before Trump left office, he claimed to have “completed the wall” with about 450 miles of barriers constructed.

Is Bush lowballing Trump’s border wall achievements, or was Trump exaggerating the number of miles that were constructed during his term?

Counting border wall miles

On Jan. 8, during the final weeks of Trump’s tenure, U.S. Customs and Border Protection released a border wall status memo detailing additions made between 2017 and 2020.

According to the memo, about 738 miles of barriers were planned. Of those, about 453 miles were completed, and the remaining 285 miles were either under construction or in the pre-construction phase, which President Joe Biden ceased upon entering office. Only about 17 of these miles were constructed in Texas all within the Rio Grande Valley sector.

There are several ways to count border wall miles. U.S. Customs and Border Protection divides wall barriers into several different categories. There are walls constructed in locations where no barriers previously existed, and walls constructed in place of dilapidated or outdated designs. There are barriers built as “primary walls,” which people walking across the border would encounter first, and barriers built as “secondary walls,” which run behind the length of primary walls along some sections.

Of the 453 completed miles, about 47 miles of primary walls and 33 miles of secondary walls were constructed where no barriers previously existed. And 351 miles of primary walls and 22 miles of secondary walls were constructed to replace dilapidated or outdated designs.

Read the full story and see how Bush’s claim rated at PolitiFact Texas. And listen to an interview with PolitiFact’s Brandon Mulder in the audio player above.

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