What to Spend $25 Billion on Instead of a Wall

President Donald Trump is making due on a campaign promise made in June 2015 to build a wall along the United States border with Mexico. Trump has made it clear that he wants to fast-track the construction despite many economic concerns, including how funding, cost, and how it will affect the U.S. going forward. 

Story by Sayuri Kolombege

Illustrations by Sonia Margolin

Though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell estimated the wall to cost between $12 billion and $15 billion, analysts at Bernstein Research have calculated that it might cost upwards of $25 billion. ORANGE has thrown together a few interesting ways we could spend that money instead.


Provide social security for 1,602,564 people for one entire year

The majority of American seniors depend on social security benefits as their main source of income. As personal savings and employer pensions dwindle, the importance of having a well budgeted social security system well after the Baby Boomer generation is vital to the stability of our financial future. $25 billion can go a long way in beginning the reconstruction of the system so that Generation X, Y and Z can still benefit from it.



Fund Planned Parenthood through Medicaid reimbursements for 50 years

The services offered at Planned Parenthood are, in many cases, the difference between a patient being treated or not. The individuals and families that count on low cost health care provided within their offices has been consistently increasing throughout the years and in a climate where Planned Parenthood is experiencing defunding, even a fraction of the money that will be used on the wall could be instead used to equip their health center with the tools needed to help detect cancer, provide treatment for STIs or prevent unintended pregnancies.


Distribute a year’s worth of healthcare to 6,490,134 individuals or 2,501,000 families

Despite the Affordable Care Act, many Americans still remain uninsured. A recent Henry J. Foundation study showed that the primary reason for why so many are without insurance is because regardless of their persistent efforts to become insured, the costs still continue to be out of their reach. Billions poured into the right account will allow a large sum of people to be protected against the insecurity of being uninsured.


Guarantee welfare for 2,314,814 people in need for one year

Social welfare policies provide citizens with basic amenities that every human should be able to have access to. Programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Medicaid have been known to result in poverty alleviation for many Americans and a year’s worth of coverage is enough to get one-third of those on welfare “back on their feet.”


Permanently house every homeless person in America and still have a $927,314 surplus

The amount of homeless people within the U.S. is staggering and while the President and his administration claim the wall is being built for the protection of the American citizens, an alternative method of protecting our citizens is making sure all of them have a roof over their heads.

David McAdams of the Harvard Business Review recently addressed the issue of a tax increase on goods that will now have to travel past the wall. The labor supply that many farmers rely on consisting of undocumented immigrants will cease to exist. And moving past our need for their manual labor, immigrants contribute to state and local taxes by collectively paying up to $11.64 billion a year and on average pay about 8 percent of their incomes in taxes. In Texas alone, the removal of undocumented workers will decrease the workforce by 6.3 percent, also decreasing Texas’ gross state product by 2.1 percent.

Realistically, billions of dollars aren’t going to be sunk into these agencies without some serious shifts, but it puts into perspective what $25 billion could do to build up and reconstruct the organizations and government services that are currently running within our borders. The wall is an expensive project with a certain tax increase that a majority of America is now actively opposing. If once in a while we daydream on how to more efficiently delegate that chunk of money, we can’t be faulted.