UPDATE 2 — 1/27, 11:59 a.m. EST: Speaking to the media at the congressional GOP retreat in Philadelphia Thursday, House Speaker Ryan and Senate Majority Leader McConnell said a bill is in the works to provide $12–15 billion in federal funds to construct a wall on the U.S. southern border.
Despite support from top leaders, some House and Senate Republicans openly oppose the proposal, including Sens. McCain, Flake (Ariz.) and Gardner (Colo.), as well as Rep. Will Hurd whose southwest Texas district runs 800 miles along the Mexican border, where a majority of the land is privately owned or comprises Big Bend National Park.
“Building a wall is the most expensive and least effective way to secure the border,” said Hurd.
UPDATE — 4:03 p.m. EST: Making a ceremonial appearance at the Dept. of Homeland Security Wednesday, President Trump signed two executive orders which authorizes existing funds to build additional border fencing in four states, reinstates an ICE program targeting undocumented immigrants, withholds federal money from sanctuary cities and suspends visas for countries which don’t accept deportees.
In an afternoon interview with ABC News, Trump said construction of the southern border wall will begin “in months,” and that “planning is starting immediately.”
In a widely-expected move sometime this week, sources have revealed President Trump intends to issue executive actions to begin the construction of more fencing on America’s southern border and to cut by half the number of immigrants entering the U.S. on Wednesday.
According to sources familiar with the matter, Mr. Trump is also weighing lowering the number of refugees allowed entry from 100,000 to 50,000.
In his forthcoming directives, Mr. Trump is believed to hire an additional 5,000 border patrol agents to relieve an understaffed Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) and triple the number of agents with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE).
CBP’s prime responsibility is to patrol the border where as ICE main function is to locate, arrest and deport illegal immigrants.
President Trump’s directive to begin construction on the U.S.-Mexico border will likely rely on the 2006 Secure Fence Act, which authorized 700 miles of fencing completed during former President Barack Obama’s tenure.
Similarly, Mr. Trump is likely to target so-called “sanctuary cities,” jurisdictions where federal immigration laws are not enforced. Trump is expected to deny funding to any city which refuses to end refuge for illegals or in which local law enforcement refuses to cooperate with federal authorities in the round up of persons in the U.S. illegally.
Although not a move expected Wednesday, but anticipated later this week, Trump may temporarily suspend the issuance of visas for 30 days to those wanting to immigrate from such counties as Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Yemen.
The Trump administration is believed to seek the temporary suspension until officials can devise an appropriate vetting program to approve asylum seekers wanting refuge in the U.S.
[Reuters] [AP] [Politico]