Trump wants $18bn for border wall in exchange for DACA – report
Trump is asking Congress for nearly $18 billion to pay for the construction of more than 700 miles of his border wall expansion project, according to a report by the the Wall Street Journal Friday.
If the funding is approved, the border wall would increase from around 654 miles to nearly 1,000 miles, covering roughly half the length of the entire US-Mexico border.
The plan, which was laid out in a document from the US Customs and Border Protection agency at the Department of Homeland Security and described to the Wall Street Journal by two sources, also calls for an additional $15 billion to pay for “critical physical border security requirements.”
The other requests include $1 billion to construct a road, $8.5 billion to deploy 5,000 new Border Patrol agents and $5.7 billion to construct towers and pay for surveillance equipment, unmanned aerial vehicles and other technology.
In total, Trump’s vision for the wall would cost taxpayers $33 billion over the next 10 years, according to the report.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump said he would construct a “big, beautiful wall” along the southern border and promised that Mexico would pay for it.
Later, Trump tweeted that Mexico would pay for the wall “in some form” and “at a later date.”
While in office, Trump has insisted that any deal to make the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program permanent must also include funding for the border wall.
However, Senate negotiators were waiting for Trump to release details of his immigration reform plan, which they were promised in mid-December.
“I think as soon as the president will tell us ‘OK, this is something I could support’ then I think that gives us, I think, a lot of room to go talk to Democrats and say ‘OK, this what our parameters are,’” Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) said, according to The Hill.
On Thursday, a group of Republican Senators met with Trump at the White House to discuss DACA, the Obama-era program protecting some 800,000 immigrants from deportation who were underage when they arrived in the country illegally.
At the meeting, Trump said he was optimistic he could get Democrats on board with his proposal.
“We need the wall, we need all of those things, and frankly, I think a lot of Democrats agree with us when they see what's happening, when they see the kind of problems we're having at the border, they really understand it,” Trump said, according to CNN.
However, when House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) saw the document obtained by the Wall Street Journal, she called it “alarming” and urged all Democrats to “speak out.”
Pelosi took to Twitter Friday, to list all the other things that could be done with the proposed border wall funding, including, providing job training for workers, treating people addicted to opioids, and helping Puerto Rico and the Virgin Island rebuild in the wake of recent hurricanes
“All of these and more would do a far better job of improving the everyday lives of American families than your ineffective & immoral wall,” Pelosi tweeted.
Republican Senators James Lankford (Oklahoma) and Thom Tillis (North Carolina) also said that negotiations have been faltering.
“Over the course of the last several weeks, we have negotiated in good faith with Senate Democrats on a DACA agreement,” Lankford and Tillis said in a joint statement. “Unfortunately, our discussions on border security and enforcement with Democrats are much further apart, and that is key to getting a bipartisan deal on DACA. Until that happens, we cannot accomplish the solutions our country needs and many families deserve.”
Even before releasing their joint statement, Tillis and Lankford stopped attending the meetings, according to Politico.
The remaining senators who attend the meetings are Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), and Michael Bennet (D-Colorado), and Cory Gardner (R- Colorado)
Durbin confirmed the Trump administration's $18 billion proposal on Twitter after Thursday’s meeting, calling it “outrageous.”
“President Trump has said he may need a good government shutdown to get his wall. With this demand, he seems to be heading in that direction,” Durbin tweeted.
Trump is planning to hold another meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers next week to continue the negotiations.
In order to have any chance of passing an immigration bill, Republicans would need 60 votes, meaning at least some Democrats would need to support their bill.
“It does no good to just have a partisan bill,” Flake said, according to CNN. “The only thing that's going to work is a bipartisan bill. It's got to have 60 votes.”