On Wednesday, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told House Democrats that some of President Trump's hardline immigration policies on the campaign were "uninformed" or "not fully informed" and that Trump had especially "evolved" in his understanding of what kind of Mexico border wall was plausible, according to Democrats in the meeting. Kelly added that the White House was seeking $20 billion for 700 miles of "physical barrier," a "50-foot wall from sea to shining sea isn't what we're going to build," attendees said, and the Mexican government won't pay for it.
"He has evolved in the way he looks at things," Kelly told Fox News on Wednesday night. "Campaign to governing are two different things, and this president has been very flexible in terms of what's in the realm of the possible." On Thursday morning, Trump disputed a number of Kelly's characterizations.
The Wall is the Wall, it has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it. Parts will be, of necessity, see through and it was never intended to be built in areas where there is natural protection such as mountains, wastelands or tough rivers or water.....
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2018
....The Wall will be paid for, directly or indirectly, or through longer term reimbursement, by Mexico, which has a ridiculous $71 billion dollar trade surplus with the U.S. The $20 billion dollar Wall is “peanuts” compared to what Mexico makes from the U.S. NAFTA is a bad joke!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2018
During the campaign, Trump had promised a "big, beautiful wall" along the 2,100-mile U.S.-Mexico border, most of it defined by the Rio Grande River, and vowed that Mexico would pay for it. On Thursday's New Day, CNN's Chris Cuomo and Spectrum News anchor Errol Louis noted that Trump's tweets certainly sound like an "evolved" version of Trump's original wall plan. Watch below. Peter Weber
President Trump tweeted "the wall is the wall" this morning. How does that stack up with what he and his administration have said about a southern border wall in the past? https://t.co/6a3v13e4mQ
— New Day (@NewDay) January 18, 2018
On Wednesday, the House Homeland Security Committee passed a border security bill that includes $10 billion in border wall funding, $5 billion to improve entry points, and money to hire 5,000 more Border Patrol agents.
Proposed by committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the Border Security for America Act passed along party lines, 18-12, and is seen by Democrats as a way for Republicans to throw a bone to President Trump, who made building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border a campaign issue. Democrats are also concerned that this may be an early attempt at linking border security funding with protecting DACA recipients. "There's no doubt that this is a setup for that conversation," Rep. Nannette Barragán (D-Calif.) said.
The bill will likely pass in the House, but isn't expected to clear the Senate, where a 60-vote majority is necessary. The committee's Democrats had fun proposing amendments to the bill, like Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who called for its name to be changed to the "Taking Americans' Land to Build Trump's Wall Act of 2017," and Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas), who proposed that any definition of a "border wall" include the words "big and beautiful," "real," "inclusive of a door," and "paid for by the Mexican government," The Hill reports. Catherine Garcia
Many recent deportees and other potential immigrants along the Mexican border to the United States are having second thoughts about whether or not to attempt an illegal crossing, the Los Angeles Times reports. "It's just too hard now with [President] Trump," said Alejandro Ramos Maceda, who was deported following a traffic charge in St. Louis, leaving his wife and daughters, who are citizens, behind in the U.S. "It's just a lot harder to cross than we thought," added another potential migrant, Vicente Vargas, 15, who turned back with a group of other teenagers after considering the crossing.
While Trump's wall has yet to be constructed and the administration has not yet bolstered its Border Patrol forces, "people are psychologically traumatized," a people smuggler told the Times.
"There's just a lot of uncertainty right now," said Jesus Arturo Madrid Rosas, a representative for Grupo Beta, a Mexican organization that assists migrants. "People don't know what's going to happen. Maybe that's keeping some people back."
The thinning traffic over the border is not even entirely Trump's doing; multiple presidential administrations have improved security, from fencing to hiring more guards. In 2016, there were just 408,870 apprehensions on the southwest border, compared with 1.6 million in 2000 or 1.1 million in 2006.
But today, "Trump, the border, deportations, roundups" are "all anyone is talking about," Sheriff Tony Estrada of Arizona's Santa Cruz County told the Los Angeles Times. "You hear it in the cafes, in the restaurants, everywhere. People are scared." Read the full report here. Jeva Lange
President Donald Trump revealed in a sit-down interview with ABC News' David Muir that construction for his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall will begin in "months." Trump indicated negotiations between Mexico and the U.S. will begin "relatively soon," and he maintained that Mexico would pay for the wall "100 percent," despite its numerous indications to the contrary. "We'll be reimbursed at a later date from whatever transaction we make from Mexico," Trump said in the interview; he had previously claimed Mexico would pay for the wall outright, but has since backed off that assertion.
Trump is expected to introduce several executive actions on immigration Wednesday, including "tightening border security and reappropriating federal money to begin construction on the border wall," Time reported.
The entirety of Trump's interview with Muir will air Wednesday on ABC at 10 p.m. ET. Catch the preview below. Becca Stanek
A sheriff in Massachusetts' Bristol County thinks it would be a great idea for his inmates to help President-elect Donald Trump build his border wall. "I can think of no other project that would have such a positive impact on our inmates and our country than building this wall," Sheriff Thomas Hodgson said Wednesday at his swearing-in ceremony for his fourth term as sheriff. "Aside from learning and perfecting construction skills, the symbolism of these inmates building a wall to prevent crime in communities around the country, and to preserve jobs and work opportunities for them and other Americans upon release, can be very powerful."
Hodgson said some of his inmates already have the requisite skills to construct the wall Trump has proposed building along the U.S.-Mexico border, and he said those without masonry skills could do things "as simple as moving materials to the wall, maybe digging in certain areas." "We have to create a border down there that prevents jobs from being taken away from Americans [and] that prevents criminals from coming in, including terrorists," Hodgson said.
The New Yorker has immortalized Donald Trump's presidency by building a wall on its own cover:
— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) November 11, 2016
The way the wall partially obscures The New Yorker title gives the entire illustration a particularly ominous feel — a far cry from the more meditative cover it devoted to President Obama's win in 2008. Jeva Lange
Donald Trump's Mexico border wall will indeed be paid for, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) assured Fox & Friends on Friday morning. And it is Congress that is going to rustle up the dough.
Gohmert cited the Republican-controlled Congress as evidence there would be efficient cooperation with Trump's White House on the matter. "I've been thrilled how our Republican leadership has just gotten all excited about Trump," Gohmert said. "It's amazing what you can get Congress to do when you lead and push them in the right direction."
Gohmert added that the wall doesn't need to stretch the entire length of the border and could be open, for example, at Texas' Big Bend National Park, which just needs an observation balloon "here and there."
Trump has repeatedly vowed that Mexico will pay for his border wall, although he changed tracks in late October to explain that the U.S. would actually pay to build the wall upfront and Mexico would fully "reimburse" the expense. Mexico has staunchly disagreed with Trump's assertions that it will pay for the wall. Jeva Lange
Donald Trump has claimed he will make Mexico pay for a border wall, but he's never actually given details on how he would get America's southern neighbor to foot the bill. In a two-page memo reported by The Washington Post on Tuesday, Trump finally outlined his plan to pressure Mexico into making the payment — by cutting off the flow of money from immigrants sent back home.
The plan, which is questionable both legally and politically according to the Post, would effectively decimate the Mexican economy by stemming billions of dollars in money transfers, or remittances, sent over the border. Trump would only allow money transfers to continue if Mexico made "a onetime payment of $5-10 billion," according to his memo.
Trump also suggested increased trade tariffs, the cancellation of visas, and higher fees for border-crossing cards as tactics for getting the money needed to build the wall. However, it is unclear if Trump's plan could actually be implemented:
The odds of success for Trump’s proposal to pay for such a wall also are fraught with challenges. Although there is a shortcut in the Administrative Procedure Act that allows for "interim" regulations that take effect immediately without going through the regular public notice and comment process, there are limitations on that authority.
Based on the process for changes laid out in the Federal Register, Trump as president could potentially invoke a change by making the argument that illegal immigration is an emergency that must be addressed immediately or is a threat to public health or safety. [The Washington Post]
But because the rule would apply to money transfers and visas, not limiting immigration, it could be hard for Trump to argue he meets the exceptions. Jeva Lange