WASHINGTON — Republican congressmen and Donald Trump’s transition team are exploring the idea of meeting the president-elect’s promise to build a wall on the US-Mexican border without having to pass a new law, officials said Thursday Jan. 5.
Under the plan under development, the Trump government would take advantage of existing laws authorizing the installation of a fence and technological devices along the southern border of the country. Congress would be required to guarantee sufficient money to take additional measures, but a single bill to authorize a new wall would not be passed.
The plan was confirmed by two congressional officials and one transition team official with knowledge of the talks; All asked not to be identified as they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter. The details were scanty and officials emphasized that no final decisions have been made.
The strategy could be surprising for some, but it would avoid a legislative battle that Trump could lose if he tries to get Congress to pass a single bill authorizing the kind of border wall he promised during the campaign.
It is not clear how much could be done along the 3,200-km (2,000-mile) border without additional Congressional actions. Lawmakers passed the Safe Enclosure Act of 2006, but most of that 1,250 km (700 miles) has already been built.
However, some areas are in much better shape than others, and the long sections are of fence that prevent the passage of vehicles but not of passers-by.
Any measure that could be taken without Congressional approval would probably fall short of the extravagant border wall that Trump constantly said Mexico would pay for. And despite Congress’ involvement in allocating any spending, such an approach could cause Trump to be accused of trying to bypass the House and Senate to take unilateral action, something he repeatedly criticized President Barack Obama for.
An expenditure initiative that includes resources for border construction could also spark legislative clashes over possible opposition from the Democrats in the Senate.
Several legislators and congressional officials said the government could have significant flexibility to take additional action without the approval of the legislature.
“There are many things that can be done with existing laws,” said Florida Republican Rep. Mario Diaz Balart, who has long proposed a comprehensive immigration reform, but emphasized that it would be Congress that would take a lasting solution about immigration. “The potential impact of what the government can do with the law can not be minimized,” he said.
However, some hardliners on immigration have already expressed their hope that Congress will vote, given the wall’s prominence during Trump’s presidential campaign, and its willingness to act on the issue.
Trump’s commitment to building an impenetrable concrete wall along the southern border was his most distinctive campaign commitment.
“Build the wall!” The tycoon’s supporters used to shout at campaign events. “Who’s going to pay for it?” Trump asked. “Mexico!”.
Trump often promised that the wall would be constructed of concrete with rebar and steel, which would be as high as the roof of the stage where it was presented and which would have a “beautiful gate” to allow the entry of authorized immigrants.
Most experts considered these promises unrealistic and unworkable, and Trump sometimes claimed that the wall would not extend across the border thanks to natural barriers such as rivers.
After he won the presidency, Trump said he would be willing to accept long sections with fences.
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