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A Republican-Democrat border security deal that is expected to be offered to President Trump funds about $1.3 billion for a United States-Mexico border wall and includes no increase in detention space to control increasing illegal immigration at the border.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have announced that they have reached a deal on border wall funding to avoid a government shutdown. The deal, according to details by the Washington Post, includes about $1.3 billion in border wall funding — a fraction of the $5.7 billion that Trump had requested from Republicans and Democrats.
This funding is set to provide about 55 miles of new border wall along the roughly 2,000-mile long southern border. Much like the 2018 omnibus spending, which prevented Trump from building a border wall out of new materials, the deal is set to tack on stipulations as to what the barrier can be made from and where it can be placed.
Additionally, the deal keeps detention space for federal immigration officials to detain illegal aliens and border crossers at the same levels that have been funded over the last two years. The deal includes about 40,250 beds for immigration detention facilities, about 11,500 fewer beds than Trump had requested.
The conference committee was formed after Trump reopened the federal government following a shutdown without securing any funding for the border wall. Members of the committee include:
Alabama Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven, Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, Texas Rep. Kay Granger, Tennesee Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, Georgia Rep. Tom Graves, and Mississippi Rep. Steven Palazzo, Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin, Montana Sen. Jon Tester, New York Rep. Nita Lowey, California Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, North Carolina Rep. David Price, California Rep. Barbara Lee, Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar, and California Rep. Pete Aguilar.
The committee was formed to work on a funding package for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with a deadline of February 15, a funding route that experts have said the president never had to take.
Defense Department officials have reiterated that Trump does not need approval from Congress and, also, does not have to declare a national emergency to begin construction of the border wall. Instead, the president could have invoked 10 United States Code § 284, which authorizes the U.S. military to build barriers at the southern border, a Pentagon official has testified to Congress.
In the meantime, illegal immigration at the southern border is expected to reach levels that have not been seen since President George W. Bush. Researchers project, at current rates, there will be more than 600,000 illegal aliens apprehended at the border this year. In December 2018, there were about 51,000 border crossers apprehended.
During a speech in El Paso, Texas, on immigration, the president responded to the deal, and he was not very positive about it.
“If we cut detention space, we are cutting loose dangerous criminals into our countries,” Trump told his supporters. “I will never sign a bill that forces the mass release of criminals into this country.”
And he indicated the he would follow through with a plan to declare a national emergency and begin construction on the wall without the approval of Congress.
“Just so you know, we’re building the wall anyway,” he said.
(This story is developing and will be updated as more information becomes available.)