President Donald Trump will travel to the southern border this week to highlight the urgent need for enhanced security there — a trip whose cost would cover enough funding to hire dozens of border patrol agents for a year.
While the White House did not specify Trump’s destination, he will reportedly fly to McAllen, Texas, to highlight the issue. The flight on Air Force One alone will cost at least $2 million, at a rate of more than $200,000 per hour.
Last month, an Air Force One flight carrying the remains of former President George H.W. Bush from Joint Base Andrews outside of Washington to an Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston lasted more than four hours.
The roughly $2 million price tag, which doesn’t include other costs of presidential travel, such as Secret Service protection, could pay for the salaries of 39 border patrol agents for one year, based on the average starting salary of $52,583 posted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Trump tweeted Monday that he would give a prime-time address on the “Humanitarian and National Security crisis on our Southern Border” on Tuesday night before traveling to the region.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted that Trump would also “travel to the Southern border on Thursday to meet with those on the frontlines of the national security and humanitarian crisis” but did not specify where Trump was headed.
Last year, Trump traveled to San Diego to review prototypes of the border wall he wants erected on the southern border.
“For the people that say no wall, if you didn’t have walls over here, you wouldn’t even have a country,” Trump told reporters there, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
Trump campaigned promising to compel the Mexican government to pay for construction but is now demanding American taxpayers foot the bill.
Last month, Trump forced parts of the government to shut downin an effort to force Congress to appropriate more than $5 billion for the 1,000-mile project. More than 54,000 Border Patrol agents are currently working unpaid due to the shutdown.
In 2015, the conservative organization Judicial Watch released Air Force records indicating that Air Force One flights cost taxpayers $206,337 per hour.