Executive Order 13767

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Executive Order 13767
Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States
Seal of the President of the United States
A map of North America, centred and zoomed in to focus on the Mexico-United States border
Executive Order 13767.pdf
Executive Order 13767, as published in the Federal Register
Type Executive order
Executive Order number 13767
Signed by Donald Trump on January 25, 2017 (2017-01-25)
Federal Register details
Federal Register document number 2017-02095
Publication date January 30, 2017 (2017-01-30)
Document citation 82 FR 8793
  • Calls for construction of a physical wall across the southern border of the United States
  • Calls for the hiring of additional Border Patrol agents

Executive Order 13767, titled Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements, is an executive order issued by United States President Donald Trump on January 25, 2017.[1][2] The order directs a wall to be built along the Mexico–United States border. However, while a Homeland Security funding bill has been proposed that provides $1.6B for the wall[3], Congress has not yet appropriated funds for such a wall to be built, and construction has not begun.


In the order, "Southern Border" is defined as the contiguous land border between the United States and Mexico, inclusive of all entry points. The orders directs "executive departments and agencies to deploy all lawful means to secure the United States' southern border, to prevent further illegal immigration into the United States, and to repatriate illegal aliens swiftly, consistently, and humanely"[4] and directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to "secure the southern Border of the United States of America" using Border Patrol agents and the Attorney General to take measures for prosecution guidelines, for prosecution of illegal immigration or other offenses in connection with the southern border.[4]


The executive order states that a physical wall "or other similarly secure, contiguous, and impassable physical barrier" on the southern border of the United States must immediately be constructed,[5] and that it be monitored by "adequate personnel" to prevent illegal immigration, drug trafficking and human trafficking, and acts of terrorism.[4] The order did not estimate a cost for the wall project.[6] An internal report by the Department of Homeland Security acquired by Reuters in February 2017 estimated that Trump's proposed border wall would take an estimated 3.5 years to build and cost $21.6 billion, an estimate far higher than figures given by Trump during the campaign.[7]

Congress has not appropriated funds for either the wall or the 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents called for by Trump's order.[8][9][10] In the United States, setting the federal budget and appropriating funds is the role of Congress, not the executive branch, and the Antideficiency Act bars the government from expending funds without a congressional appropriation.[9] Thus, despite the executive order's call for "immediate" construction of a border wall,[6] the impact of the order is limited, although the U.S. Department of Homeland Security could engage in initial planning.[9]

Trump has repeatedly vowed that Mexico will pay for the construction of a border wall, but has never explained how the U.S. government would compel Mexico to do so.[10] Trump stated that "there will be a payment; it will be in a form, perhaps a complicated form."[10] The Mexican government has rejected Trump's statements and has rejected the idea of Mexico funding construction of a wall.[10][11] Upon signing the order, the Trump administration also suggested that wall construction could be funded by a 20% tariff on Mexico imports, a proposal which immediately encountered objections from members of Congress of both parties.[12] After the negative response, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus indicated that the administration was considering "a buffet of options" for funding a wall.[12] In April 2016, Trump said that he would "'compel' Mexico to pay for a border wall by blocking remittances and canceling visas unless Mexico makes a one-time payment of $5 billion to $10 billion to the U.S."[13] Experts have identified a number of legal, economic, and practical obstacles to such a proposal, saying that it would be impossible to track all money transfers between Mexico and the United States, or to effectively block all remittances. Experts also expressed concerns that blocking remittances would harm the U.S. economy.[11][13] Brookings Institution fellow Aaron Klein said that a move to block remittances would be a reversal of the existing U.S. policy "to encourage the flow of money to come into the official system and to discourage the flow of funds through the underground network."[13]

U.S. Representative Michael McCaul, Republican of Austin, Texas, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said that the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives would seek to pass a special supplemental (emergency) appropriations bill to spend money on initial construction of the wall, a demand of the Trump administration.[6][14] Such a supplemental spending bill is supported by House Speaker Paul Ryan.[14] However, Senate Democrats have expressed confidence that they can block an appropriations bill for wall construction, with the aid of some Republicans who also oppose the construction of a wall due to its enormous cost.[15][16]

Design and planning

In February 2017, Trump stated that "the wall is getting designed right now" but did not offer specifics.[17] In March 2017, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) began accepting prototype ideas for a U.S.–Mexico border wall from companies and said it would issue of a request for proposals by March 24.[18][19]

The Associated Press reported "upwards of 200 organizations had expressed interest in designing and building" the wall for CBP.[20] By April 2017, several companies had released their proposed designs to the public. (CBP does not publicly release bids, and intends to name only the winning bid.) Various ideas advanced by companies included placing solar panels along part of a wall; placing artwork along the wall ("a polished concrete wall augmented with stones and artifacts" related to the local region); incorporating ballistics resistance technology and sensors for above ground and below ground penetration; and even the creation of a "co-nation" where the border is maintained by both countries in an open status.[20][21]

Trump proposed at a rally on June 21, 2017 that solar panels would be added to the border wall.(The Washington Post), (BBC)

Implications and reception

Impact on Mexico–U.S. relations

The executive order soured relations between the U.S. and Mexico. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto addressed Mexican citizens via a recorded message, in which he condemned Trump's executive order and again said that Mexico would not pay for the wall's construction. Following a Twitter feud between the two men (in which Trump threatened to cancel a planned meeting with Nieto in Washington), Nieto decided to cancel the meeting himself.[22]

Addressing supporters, the Mexican opposition leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador condemned the wall order as an insult to Mexico, and demanded the Mexican government to pursue claims in the United Nations against the Trump administration.[23]

In March 2017, Mexican congressman Braulio Guerra of Querétaro climbed, but did not cross, an existing United States-Mexico 30-foot border fence dividing San Diego and Tijuana, saying that more walls would be ineffective. In a video, Guerra says atop the barrier: "I was able to scale it, climb it, and sit myself right here. It would be simple for me to jump into the United States, which shows that it is unnecessary and totally absurd to build a wall. It's easy, and it shows how unnecessary this project, this political rhetoric from Donald Trump, is."[24][25]

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico strongly opposes a border wall, writing that any Mexican company that participates in construction of the wall or supplies materials for construction would be committing "treason against the homeland."[26][27]

Other international reactions

At the annual summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States in January 2017, heads of state and foreign ministers from across South America, Central America, and the Caribbean condemned the wall proposal.[28]

Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, applauded the plan, endorsing it as a "Great Success. Great idea." Netanyahu declared "Trump is right" and likened the proposal to the Israeli West Bank barrier.[29][30] Mexican officials were angered by Netanyahu's statement, and hours later Netanyahu's office issued a statement saying that "the prime minister was addressing Israel's unique circumstances and the important experience we have and which we are willing to share with other nations. There was no attempt to voice an opinion regarding U.S.–Mexico ties."[29][31]

Environmental impacts

The construction of a border wall as envisioned in the order, could cause significant environmental damage, including habitat destruction and habitat fragmentation that would harm wildlife, including endangered species. Wall construction would also cause increased greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change, due to the concrete manufacturing that would be required.[32]

Legal challenge

In April 2017, the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group, and U.S. Representative Raúl M. Grijalva, the ranking Democratic member on the House Committee on Natural Resources filed a lawsuit in federal court in Tucson. In their complaint, Grijalva and the Center argue that the government's wall construction plans fail to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, and seek to compel the government to carry out an environmental impact study and produce an environmental impact statement before building the wall.[33][34] The lawsuit specifically seeks "to stop any work until the government agrees to analyze the impact of construction, noise, light and other changes to the landscape on rivers, plants and endangered species — including jaguars, Sonoran pronghorns and ocelots — and also on border residents."[35]

Experts' response

Experts "have voiced doubts about whether a wall would actually stem illegal immigration, or if it is worth the billions it is expected to cost."[36] Critics have noted that the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. had declined for several years before the order was signed, in part because of the Great Recession.[36]

Gil Kerlikowske, the former Commissioner of the Customs and Border Protection,[37] stated that the rugged terrain in the Arizona desert is one of many natural obstacles in the construction of the wall. Kerlikowske also said that the border currently has 700 miles of fencing, and that the border is patrolled by various means, including by agents on motorcycles or ATVs and drones. He said that the current method was preferable to a wall.[37]

After the executive order was signed, Jason Marczak of the Atlantic Council wrote: "Today's events are dangerous for the immediate and long-term security and economy of the United States. U.S.–Mexico cooperation is far-reaching: from intelligence sharing for the capture of drug traffickers to the flow of commercial goods that support the livelihoods of nearly 5 million American workers."[22]

The wall also does not address alternative methods of entering the U.S. from Mexico including tunneling under the wall or traveling by boat or plane.

Domestic responses

Executive Order 13767, along with another executive order signed by Trump on the same day, drew "furious condemnation" from civil rights organizations and immigrant advocacy groups, who described the orders as "meanspirited, counterproductive and costly and said the new policies would raise constitutional concerns while undermining the American tradition of welcoming people from around the world."[38] Religious leaders were also largely critical of the border-wall proposal.[38][39] Hundreds of citizens gathered at Washington Square Park in New York City to protest the executive order.[40]

In Congress, some Republicans praised Trump's executive order, such as U.S. Representative Lamar S. Smith of San Antonio, who said that "he appreciated Trump 'honoring his commitment' on immigration,"[41] and Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who said the wall would stop illegal immigration and compared it to the Israel–Egypt barrier.[lower-alpha 1] Other members of Congress from congressional districts along or close to the Mexican border were critical, such as U.S. Representatives Will Hurd (Republican of San Antonio), Henry Cuellar (Democrat of Laredo), and Joaquin Castro (Democrat of San Antonio).[41] Hurd criticized the order as "the most expensive and least effective way to secure the border" while Castro stated that the wall "a lazy and ineffective strategy" and said: "[Trump] is driving Mexico into China's arms. I expect that whatever President Trump away Mexico, China will step in to offer."[41]

The Southwest Border Sheriffs' Coalition, a group of sheriffs across the four states on the U.S.–Mexico border, are strongly opposed to the construction of a wall, citing its massive cost and logistical difficulties, and saying that the wall would not be effective.[45] Tony Estrada, a member of the Coalition and the longtime sheriff of the border county of Santa Cruz County, Arizona, has emerged as an outspoken critic of Trump's border wall proposal, saying that the wall will not stymie drug cartel violence fueled by demand for drugs in the U.S.[45][46]

Opinion surveys

A February 2017 study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that "[a]s was the case throughout the presidential campaign, more Americans continue to oppose (62%) than favor (35%) building a wall along the entire U.S. border with Mexico."[47][48] 43% of respondents thought that a border wall would have little to no effect on illegal immigration. 70% of Americans thought that the U.S. would ultimately pay for the wall; 16% believed that Mexico would pay for it. Public opinion was polarized by party: "About three-quarters (74%) of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents support a border wall, while an even greater share of Democrats and Democratic leaners express opposition to building a wall across the entire U.S.–Mexico border (89%)."[47] Younger Americans and Americans with college degrees were more likely to oppose a wall than older Americans and those without college degrees.[47]

In a separate January 2017 study conducted by the Pew Research Center, only 39% of Americans identified construction of a U.S.–Mexico border wall as an "important goal for U.S. immigration policy." By contrast, Americans found other policies to be important, such as cracking down on visa overstays (77% identified as important); allowing those who came to the U.S. illegally as children to remain in the country (72% identified as important); and increasing deportations of immigrants currently in the U.S. illegally (58% identified as important).[49] The survey found that while there Americans were divided by party on many different immigration policies, "the widest [partisan split] by far is over building a southern border wall. Two-thirds of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (67%) say construction of a wall on the U.S.–Mexico border is an important goal for immigration policy, compared with just 16% of Democrats and Democratic leaners."[49]

A March 2017 nationally representative survey of Americans conducted by the Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Chicago showed 58% of Americans oppose new spending for a U.S.–Mexico border wall with Mexico, while 28% support such new spending. Opposition to spending on a border wall was highest among Democrats (86% oppose) and independents (57% oppose); Republicans were substantially more supportive.[50][51]

See also


  1. Johnson issued a report arguing that border walls were shown to be effective in curbing illegal immigration, citing a "99 percent" reduction in illegal immigration after Israeli built a 143-mile wall on the country's border with Egypt at a cost of $2.9 million per mile.[42][43][44] Illegal immigration from Africa to Israel did significantly decrease after construction of the Israel-Egyptian wall, but experts cautioned "against generalizing that the fence is the sole reason for the drop," noting that the U.S.–Mexico border (almost 2,000 miles) is much longer than the Israel–Egypt border fence (150 miles); that the terrain along U.S.–Mexico border has much more mountainous and remote than that the Israel–Egypt border; and that a 2012 Israeli law, unrelated to the border wall, had also affected illegal migration.[44]


  1. "Executive Order: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements". White House Office of the Press Secretary. Retrieved January 30, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Jeremy Diamond (January 26, 2017). "Trump orders construction of border wall, boosts deportation force". CNN.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. {cite web | url = http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/house-spending-bill-funds-all-of-trumps-initial-16-billion-border-wall-plan/article/2628336 | title = House spending bill funds all of Trump's initial $1.6 billion border wall plan | author = Susan Ferrechio | publisher = Washington Examiner | date = July 11, 2017 | accessdate = July 18, 2017}}
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Executive Order: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements". White House Office of the Press Secretary. Retrieved January 30, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  5. David Smith (January 26, 2017). "Trump signs order to begin Mexico border wall in immigration crackdown". The Guardian.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Bill Lambrecht, Jason Buch & Aaron Nelsen, Trump orders 'immediate' construction of border wall, San Antonio Express-News (January 26, 2017).
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  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Matt Apuzzo, Trump Orders a Wall Built, but Congress Holds the Checkbook, New York Times (January 25, 2017).
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