The funding for Trump's border wall has increased yet again, with an additional $5bn being funnelled into the president's flagship pledge.
The total spent on Trump's wall so far stands at $18bn – an impressive amount for a wall that's easily climbable and isn't even nearly finished. In reality it's more of a fence.
But while Trump's fans continue to chant "build the wall!" at his rallies, loads of other places could use this cash. Instead of a giant monument to white supremacy, there's plenty other places where these billions, or even smaller millions, would be much better spent to benefit all Americans.
1. A gun buyback program – $12bn
America’s gun epidemic is one of the most desperate situations, with no light in sight at the end of the politically deadlocked tunnel. The New York Times estimates that a government buyback programme would cost around $12bn – $6bn less than Trump’s wall so far.
2. Contraception – $400m
Republicans are always going on about how much they hate abortion. But when it comes to funding contraception properly, they’re not so interested. Providing free contraception to a million young women would cost $400m – just a miniscule portion of Trump’s border wall funding, but would go a long way to providing Americans with the healthcare they really need.
3. Education – $18bn
Trump’s education budget for 2019 was just $59bn – a $15m decrease since 2016. The $18bn Trump has spent on his border wall so far would better be used to fill this hole in America’s education system. After all, a higher return from investing in education than in walls is almost guaranteed.
4. Hiring over 400 immigration judges – $246m
America’s immigration system had been a mess for a long time before Trump, but wait times for trial dates have skyrocketed in recent years, reaching almost two years. With a $246m investment, the number of immigration judges could rise from 524 to 1,000, helping to handle the influx of refugees trying to enter the country.
5. Permanent housing for 20,000 homeless people – $200 million
Homelessness is out of control in many of America’s urban areas. According to non-profit Impact Matters, it would cost $10,000 on average to house a homeless person. With priority going to homeless people with young children, a small proportion of Trump’s wall funding could bring thousands off the street.
6. Treatment for addictions – $200m
The US opioid epidemic is a deeply depressing situation, but it doesn’t have to exist in the first place. Drug overdoses kill far more Americans (70,000 a year) than immigrants, terrorists, guns or automobiles, yet only 10 per cent of Americans with addictions get specialised treatment. One way to save lives and also reduce crime would be to provide treatment that helps people break drug dependency.
7. Prisoner job training – $234 million
Job training and life skill coaching to help prisoners get back on track, reconnect with families and find jobs would cost about $6,500 per person, according to The New York Times, and research shows this reduces reoffending and makes people safer.
8. Space exploration – 18bn
NASA’s entire 2019 budget was £18bn – the same amount Trump has spent so far on this ridiculous wall. Think of all the discoveries that could be made with the wall money spent there instead?
9. Give 20,000 teachers a 6 per cent pay rise – $480m
The Los Angeles Unified School District fought, and won, a 6 percent raise. Give the same raise to more than 200,000 teachers in Florida, Louisiana and Texas would cost $480m.