In a recent interview with Politico, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell distanced himself from President Trump’s insistence to force Mexico’s government to pay for the “great, beautiful” border wall along the country’s southern border.
When a reporter asked him if Mexico is going to foot the bill, the Senate leader flatly replied: “Uh, no.”
Trump’s border wall is expected to cost around $14 billion. So, while critics say that it is both expensive and useless, some Republicans lawmakers are skeptical about the project due to costs. On the other hand, Trump is not willing to back down. He recently said that the construction is “way, way, way ahead of schedule” even though there are multiple issues with the project that haven’t been addressed.
While the president argues that the wall is necessary to prevent illegal crossings, official reports show that fewer and fewer illegals are crossing the border. Plus, the Trump administration’s budget chief acknowledged that no one at the White House knows what the construction will be made out of.
What’s more, Trump’s executive order to cut funds of several federal agencies to find the means to pay for the wall has ignited a diplomatic crisis with Mexico, which doesn’t want to pay fund the construction. According to people familiar with the matter, Trump has only $20 million in existing funding to start the $14-billion-plus endeavor. His administration is contemplating strategic cuts to the Coast Guard and Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) to boost funding.
So, it is no wonder Trump’s fellow party members are not happy with the project. Sen. Cory Gardner (R.- CO) reportedly told constituents that ““billions of dollars on a wall” is not a good course of action to secure the border. Gardner said that he won’t back Trump’s plan to set a special tariff on Mexican goods to indirectly force Mexico to pay for the project.
On Thursday morning, McConnell said he is all in for border security, but added that, in some locations, a border wall would not be enough to stop illegal immigrants from entering the country. Trump once said that the border wall won’t have to cover the entire southern border as natural barriers would do its job better.
Other lawmakers joined the chorus when they said that a physical wall alone won’t prevent illegal immigration. They argued that a mix of patrol officers, technology, and fencing is more effective and less costly.
In January, the president disclosed that U.S. taxpayers would initially fund the construction for the “sake of speed,” with Mexico expected to foot the bill later. During his first address to a joint Congress, he promised to begin the construction of the border wall “soon”.
We must restore integrity and the rule of law at our borders,
the president said on Feb. 28.
Trump wants to use the wall to discourage immigrants from fraudulently entering the U.S. Other methods to curb illegal immigration includes the deportation of 11 million illegal aliens residing in the U.S. As of recently, the president backpedaled on that campaign pledge, saying that he would focus only on criminals that “prey on very innocent citizens.”
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