U.S. Congress Approves Border Wall Funding
Congress approved the finance and construction of new barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border to prevent another government shutdown. The agreement was reached on Monday after a debate over immigration enforcement issues.
The Republicans agreed to build the wall at a much less amount in their desperation to avoid another shutdown. The White House demanded $5.7 billion for the construction of the wall but the negotiation settled at $1.4 billion. The agreed amount will build a 55-mile fence in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. In December, the Trump Administration said that they will build a 215 miles wall of concrete but, instead, the agreed fence will be constructed through existing designs such as metal slabs.
Richard Shelby, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman, said that recent shutdown and the threat of another one to happen united the Congress. The full report of the negotiation will be officially released on Tuesday. However, the agreement alleviated the threat of another partial government shutdown feared to happen this weekend. The news was revealed by Congress aides under the condition that their identities remain unknown due to the uncertainty of the agreement.
Both the Democrats and the Republicans did not give their comments on the details of the deal because they said that the agreement is still on progress. Shelby said that they have reached an agreement in principle and their staffs are going to be working feverishly to be putting all the details together.
The agreement also included the allocation of funds to the DHS in the amount of $1.7 billion as new funding for border security that could include updates on technologies to be used at the port of entry, additional customs officers and humanitarian aid. They also agreed to give funds for approximately 40,520 detention beds for the detained immigrants.
Rep. Nita Lowey of New York and Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, leading Democrat negotiators, met with their Republican counterparts, Rep. Kay Granger of Texas and Shelby, behind closed doors. The two sides debated the number of detention beds for the undocumented immigrants who entered the country. A senior Democratic aide said that Senate Republicans needs to accept that there shall be a cap on the bed count for the immigrants, a "limit" on Trump immigration policies. However, the Trump announced on Monday night during his rally on El Paso that he will never sign a bill that forces the mass release of violent criminals into the country.