“Build the wall” became the unofficial rallying cry of then-candidate Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Three years later, amid a series of legal and political setbacks that have raised questions about the project’s future, the Trump administration is making a renewed effort to show voters the U.S.-Mexico border wall remains a top priority — touting recent construction and vowing to pick up the pace going into 2020.
The article goes on to state the following:
The purchase of critical strips of private land has cleared the way, they argue, for a new phase. The plan, officials told reporters at a briefing this week, is to construct upwards of 450-500 miles by the end of next year — a massive undertaking representing nearly eight times what construction teams have erected to date.
“It’s going up fast and we’re putting it where the Border Patrol most wants it,” Trump said in a video message Sunday. “We’re taking money from all over because, as you know, the Democrats don’t want us to build the wall — they’re fighting us at every step.”
The president has made recent gains in his immigration agenda. The administration announced new stats on Monday showing the number of border apprehensions in August was 64,006 — a plunge of 56 percent since May. While still historically high, administration officials said it shows diplomacy efforts with countries like Mexico is paying dividends.
Meanwhile, the administration has announced a formal “public charge” rule cracking down on immigrants who claim welfare, an overhaul to the Flores settlement that limits how long children and families can be kept in custody, and a rule that stops asylum seekers who have passed through other countries from claiming asylum in the U.S.
While many of the government efforts are facing major court challenges and decried by critics as an overreach, they mark an aggressive push to crack down on illegal immigration and overhaul the legal immigration system.
The wall has faced its own set of challenges. Trump struggled to get funding from Congress and faced hurdles like the challenge of securing private land needed for new wall construction. Democrats are almost entirely opposed to a wall, saying it is a waste of money and against American values.
But in July, the court sided with the administration in lifting a freeze that halted plans to use Pentagon money for wall construction. Last week, the Pentagon announced it intends to shift $3.6 billion to wall construction as part of a series of moves the administration is using to get around the congressional logjam when it comes to wall funding.
The administration touts that approximately 60 miles of “new border wall system” have been built so far. Critics note that this represents replacement wall in areas that already had existing barriers and fencing. But administration officials have pushed back, saying what’s being replaced is largely landing-mat barriers that can be pushed over or “Normandy-style” crosses that can be stepped over. Administration officials pose the Seussian question: If a wall can easily fall, then is it even a wall at all?
“When you take that down and you put in what is being built now — that is a new wall,” one official said at a briefing in Washington earlier this week. “It’s 30 feet tall, it’s embedded in concrete, the structure is incredibly strong, it has anti-climbing techniques, it’s also got additional technology — lighting, access roads, etc so it really is a wall system. So anywhere the wall is being built, it’s new wall.”
Arguments about new or replacement wall aside, the administration is now planning an aggressive push to build more wall by the end of next year — which happens to be when the presidential election is being held. “Build the wall” will surely return to the rally rotation as the Trump re-election campaign moves into full swing.
Perhaps driven in part by political urgency, Trump has lit a fire under his team to get the job done. According to The Washington Post, he told aides he wants the 500 miles done by Election Day and has suggested he would pardon officials if they break the law. The White House has denied that Trump floated pardons.
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Author: Dean Daniels
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