House GOP backs Trump border wall plan
By MARCO SANTOS – APWASHINGTON (AP) House Republicans on Wednesday endorsed President Donald Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and offered a blueprint for doing so, even as they resisted calls from Democrats for a border wall to be built in Texas.
The proposal includes new funding for border patrol and the construction of a barrier along existing portions of the border and has drawn fierce opposition from Democrats and some Republicans.
It also would include a ban on the construction and use of new fencing and sensors that could be used to spot and stop people from entering the country.
The wall will be a centerpiece of Trump’s immigration agenda as he seeks to secure the border.
He has said Mexico will pay for it.
Democrats, including Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., said they are frustrated that Republicans have abandoned their pledge to build the wall and that the plan is too simplistic and will do little to stop illegal immigration.
Democrats are also upset about the idea of a ban, saying the proposed measure will only increase the risks of human trafficking, which is rampant along the border as well as along the nation’s southern border with Mexico.
Republicans say the bill does not address the problem and they said the legislation would allow for more fencing.GOP Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., who is also chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said that if the border wall were built it would be funded by the government.
Republicans said that would not be true, but would not say exactly how much.
Democrats were also upset with the idea that it was going to be a “backdoor” to get Mexico to pay for the wall.
Democrats say that would be a huge giveaway to Trump and he could use the money to pay down debt.
“They’re giving the president a $1 trillion tax cut without a plan to pay it back,” said Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D,Ill.
“It is not a smart approach for the American people.”
Democrats are calling on the administration to come up with an alternative plan to keep out illegal immigrants.
They also say it is not clear how Trump would pay for building the wall if he was to shut down the federal government.
The House plan, unveiled at a news conference with Trump, includes $2 billion for Border Patrol, $2.5 billion for Homeland Security and $2,500 for Customs and Border Protection.
It also includes $10 billion in new money for border patrols and $3 billion for other border security measures.
“We will build the border fence, and we will pay the cost of it,” the White House said in a statement.
“The president’s plan will help make sure the border is secure and the costs will be passed along to taxpayers,” the statement added.
“The president is proposing a smart, responsible, effective and efficient approach that will create jobs and improve the lives of millions of Americans.”
The administration is expected to announce its next steps in the fight against illegal immigration in coming days.