The longest shutdown in US history
lasted 35 days and cost the country’s economy an estimated $11 billion.
Details have yet to be released but
aides familiar with the negotiations say it includes $1.375 billion in funding
for 55 miles of new fencing at the border, a small part of the more than 2,000
miles promised by President Trump.
The wall would be built in the Rio
Grande Valley, in Texas, using existing designs, such as metal slats, instead
of the concrete wall that Donald Trump had demanded.
According to recent reports, there
was also an agreement to reduce the number of beds in detention centers to
40,250 from the current 49,057.
The talks had reached an impasse earlier with Republicans strongly rejecting
Democrats’ demands for a limit to the number of undocumented migrants already
in the US who could be detained by immigration authorities.
Republican Senator Richard Shelby said on February 11: “We got an agreement on all of it.
“Our staffs are going to be
working feverishly to put all the particulars together. We believe that if this
becomes law, it’ll keep open the government.”
However, by yesterday, some of President Trump’s conservative allies had
already denounced the deal, with Fox News commentator Sean Hannity calling it a
House Freedom Caucus leader Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina said the agreement failed “to address the critical priorities outlined by Border Patrol Chiefs”.
President Trump opened the Oval Office meeting calling it a “great honor” to have Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi present, in their firstmeeting since Democrats took control of the House of Representatives in theNovember mid-term elections.
The meeting soon turned contentious as Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer argued that the Republican-controlled Congress could pass legislation before funding for some agencies was set to expire on December 21.
President Trump contended that it could only pass if it met his demands for more funding for his proposed borderwall along the US southern border.
He said: “If we don’t get what we want, one way or the other, whether it’s through you, through military, through anything you want to call, I will shutdown the government.
“And I am proud to shut down the government for bordersecurity. I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down.”
President Trump has asked the Department of Defense for a detailed list of military and other facilities that could perform that function.
He has sent several tweets over the past week railing against illegal immigration and accusing Democrats of allowing “open borders, drugs and crime”.
The president declared on Twitter that Republicans should “go to Nuclear Option to pass tough laws [on illegal migrants] NOW”.
He also threatened Mexico, saying the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was at risk unless it stopped the movement of migrants over the border.
He tweeted: “Mexico is doing very little, if not NOTHING, at stopping people from flowing into Mexico through their Southern Border, and then into the U.S. They laugh at our dumb immigration laws. They must stop the big drug and people flows, or I will stop their cash cow, NAFTA. NEED WALL!”
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has condemned what he called “threatening or disrespectful attitudes” from President Trump.
President Trump has called sending troops to the Mexico border a “big step”, but both his predecessors also dispatched the National Guard there.
President Barack Obama sent some 1,200 soldiers to guard the boundary, while President George W. Bush deployed about 6,000 troops to help Border Patrol in what was called Operation Jump Start. Both deployments lasted for around a year.
President Trump told cheering supporters at a campaign-style rally in Cedar Rapids on June 21 that he would “give you an idea that nobody has heard about yet”.
He said: “We’re thinking of something that’s unique, we’re talking about the southern border, lots of sun, lots of heat. We’re thinking about building the wall as a solar wall, so it creates energy and pays for itself. And this way, Mexico will have to pay much less money, and that’s good, right?”
The president added: “Solar wall, panels, beautiful. I mean actually think of it, the higher it goes the more valuable it is. Pretty good imagination right? Good? My idea.”
More than 200 companies have reportedly responded to an invitation from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to submit designs for the Mexican wall.
Among them was one from Gleason Partners in Las Vegas that proposed a wall of steel, cement and solar panels.
In April, media reported that President Trump had raised the idea with Republican Congressional leaders in talks at the White House.
In an article for the Wall Street Journal in March, two academics also suggested the idea of a solar paneled wall.
The White House has issued tough guidelines to widen the net for deporting illegal immigrants from the United States, and speed up their removal.
Undocumented immigrants arrested for traffic violations or shop-lifting will be targeted along with those convicted of more serious crimes.
The memos do not alter immigration laws, but take a much tougher approach towards enforcing existing measures.
There are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States.
The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) new blueprint leaves in place Obama-era protections for immigrants who entered the US illegally as children.
However, it expands the more restricted guidance issued under the previous administration, which focused its policy on immigrants convicted of serious crimes, threats to national security or those who had recently crossed the border.
Image source Wikimedia
The DHS plans to hire an extra 10,000 agents for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and 5,000 more border patrol officers to enforce the new guidance.
During his eight years in office, President Barack Obama instructed immigration officials to focus deportation efforts on undocumented immigrants who were convicted of serious crimes or recent arrivals captured near the US border.
President Trump’s immigration order marks a sharp break with those policies. Instead – according to the DHS implementation memos – the Trump administration essentially will “prioritize” the deportation of almost all undocumented immigrants, everywhere.
The DHS’s list of prioritized “removable aliens” is so broad as to include just about every class of undocumented immigrant – with only a carve-out for individuals who entered the US as children.
All this will require more money and manpower – and the Trump administration is going to ask Congress for the former and go on a hiring spree to address the latter. Local and state law-enforcement officials will also be allowed to arrest unauthorized immigrants.
While President Barack Obama aggressively enforced immigration law and ramped up deportations in some areas and at some times, there were notable instances where he de-emphasized action. In the Trump era immigration authorities are now being given the power to make a sea-to-sea, border-to-border push.
The two memos released on February 21 by the agency suggest individuals apprehended in the US would need to prove that they have been in the country continuously for two years.
Otherwise, agents could expedite their removal with no court proceeding.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly wrote in one of the memos: “The surge of illegal immigration at the southern border has overwhelmed federal agencies and resources and has created a significant national security vulnerability to the United States.”
His memo also includes instructions to enforce an existing provision of the US Immigration and Nationality Act that allows authorities to send some people caught illegally at the border back to Mexico, regardless of where they are from.
It is unclear whether the US has authority to force Mexico to accept foreigners.
The DHS guidance is a blueprint to implement executive orders that President Trump signed on January 25, days after taking office.
The new guidelines did not explain how President Trump’s border wall would be funded and where undocumented immigrants apprehended in the crackdown would be detained.
The memos instruct agents to “allocate all available resources to expand their detention capabilities and capacities”, but Congress would probably need to allocate money to build new detention centers.
Donald Trump’s immigration policies have prompted protests on both sides of the border. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in more than a dozen Mexican cities last week to protest against President Trump’s plan for a border wall.
In his first extensive post-election interview on 60 Minutes that will be aired on November 13 at 7 p.m. ET/PT, President-elect Donald Trump has said he will deport or jail up to three million illegal immigrants initially.
Those targeted would be immigrants with criminal records, such as gang members and drug dealers, Donald Trump said.
The president-elect also confirmed that another election promise, to build a wall with Mexico, still stood but could include fencing.
Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in November 8 presidential vote.
His victory shocked many who had expected Hillary Clinton to win following favorable opinion polls.
Donald Trump is due to take over at the White House on January 20, when President Barack Obama steps down after two terms in office.
Both houses of Congress are also under Republican control.
Asked about his plans for the Mexican border, Donald Trump said “a wall is more appropriate” in some parts but “there could be some fencing”,
Other undocumented immigrants would be assessed once the border was secured, Donald Trump added.
However, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said earlier that border security was a greater priority than mass deportation.
“We are not planning on erecting a deportation force,” he told CNN’s State of the Union program.
“I think we should put people’s minds at ease.”
Forcing Mexico to pay for a border wall became a rallying cry among Donald Trump supporters during the campaign.
Donald Trump caused outrage by suggesting Mexicans were exporting “their rapists” to the US, along with drugs and other crime.
In a major immigration speech in Phoenix, Arizona, Donald Trump has insisted Mexico will pay for a border wall “100%”.
The GOP nominee told a cheering crowd that he would secure the border, and left open the possibility that millions of illegal immigrants be deported.
Hours earlier, Donald Trump met Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto but said they had not discussed financing the wall.
President Pena Nieto later insisted he had told Donald Trump Mexico would not pay.
There had been speculation that Donald Trump would back off his plan to deport the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US.
In his speech in Phoenix, there were conflicting signals about this. The Republican said their fate was not a “core issue” and that deporting “criminal aliens” would be the priority.
“We will treat everyone living or residing in our country with great dignity,” he said.
Later Donald Trump struck a more uncompromising note when he added: “Anyone who has entered the United States illegally is subject to deportation. That is what it means to have laws.”
He said it was the right of the US to choose immigrants that “we think are the likeliest to thrive and flourish and love us”.
Elaborating on that idea, Donald Trump said his “extreme vetting” would involve an ideological test for immigrants applying to live in the US.
“Applicants will be asked for their views about honor killings, about respect for women and gays and minorities, attitudes on radical Islam,” he said.
Donald Trump stormed to an unlikely victory in the Republican primaries partly due to his tough talking on immigration.
In Phoenix he vowed to protect the interests of Americans who he said lose out to new arrivals: “We have to listen to the concerns that working people, our forgotten working people, have over the record pace of immigration and its impact on their jobs, wages, housing, schools, tax bills and general living conditions.”
Donald Trump accused his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton of wanting to grant amnesty to undocumented immigrants and of advocating “open border” policies.
Reacting to Donald Trump’s visit to Mexico, Hillary Clinton said he had “choked” by not asking his hosts to pay for his wall.