Trump’s border wall becomes flashpoint in shutdown fight

Trump’s border wall becomes flashpoint in shutdown fight
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpPentagon update to missile defense doctrine will explore space-base technologies, lasers to counter threats Giuliani: 'I never said there was no collusion' between the Trump campaign and Russia Former congressmen, RNC members appointed to Trump administration roles MORE’s core campaign promise to build a wall on the Mexican border is now the biggest sticking point in complicated negotiations with Congress to prevent a government shutdown. 

Both sides are digging in ahead of a White House meeting on Tuesday aimed at narrowing the differences on immigration between the president and lawmakers of both parties.


The reemergence of the border fight comes as Congress has less than two weeks to clinch a deal to fund the government and address a laundry list of other issues.

Trump is doubling down on the border wall being a condition for any deal to help people enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. He called the wall “desperately needed” during a retreat with GOP leadership over the weekend. 

“We have to get rid of the lottery system, we have to get rid of chain migration, and we have to have a wall,” Trump said after the Camp David retreat. 

Trump is planning to visit prototypes of the border wall in San Diego at the end of this month. The White House has asked Congress for $18 billion to build and repair roughly 700 miles of border structures.

Ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, the Department of Homeland Security sent a wide-ranging list of Trump’s immigration priorities to the senators working on a bipartisan DACA deal; the wall was at the top of the list.

The wish list also included tightening the rules for allowing unaccompanied minors to enter the country and new limits on which family members citizens and permanent residents can sponsor. 

But Democrats are refusing to allow new funding for a border wall, and say Trump’s insistence on it increases the chances of a government shutdown next week. 

“I will certainly vote against it, and I know most Democrats will vote against it,” Rep. Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroGillibrand to visit 'The Late Show' amid reported 2020 plans Julián Castro: Trump 'failed the people of Puerto Rico' Julián Castro hits Trump in campaign launch: 'A crisis of leadership' MORE (D-Texas) told MSNBC on Sunday.

Democrats have been more receptive to increased funding for border security, which could include more technology and repairs to existing infrastructure — provisions they accepted as part of the 2017 omnibus spending bill Trump signed in May.

Republicans, meanwhile, are accusing Democrats of playing politics on immigration because of their opposition to Trump.

The Republican National Committee, in a note to reporters, said Democrats are “terrified of upsetting their militantly-liberal base” and “AWOL on the very policies they supported just a few years ago.” 

While the Democrats had supported a host of new security provisions — including new wall funding — in a 2013 immigration package, that legislation was designed to overhaul the entire system, granting new legal protections to the 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally. 

The DACA fix being discussed this month would affect only a sliver of the larger community, and the Democrats have rejected a package that would protect the “Dreamers” while cracking down on enforcement against the broader population of immigrants here illegally. 

“A lot of these conditions are [a] non-starter,” Rep. Adriano EspaillatAdriano de Jesus Espaillat CabralHere are the lawmakers who will forfeit their salaries during the shutdown 8-year-old boy dies in CBP custody Hispanic Caucus picks Castro as its next chair MORE (D-N.Y.), the first formerly undocumented immigrant to be elected to Congress, said last week. “The wall is certainly a non-starter.”   

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerCardi B expresses solidarity with federal workers not getting paid Government shutdown impasse is a leveraging crisis Overnight Health Care: Dem chair meets Trump health chief on drug prices | Trump officials sued over new Kentucky Medicaid work rules | Democrats vow to lift ban on federal funds for abortions MORE (D-N.Y.) called the White House list a series of “unreasonable demands entirely outside of the scope” of the negotiations. 

“Over the past year the White House has much more frequently been a disruptive force rather than a unifying force. To throw down a list from the hard, hard-line wing of the White House at the last minute is not a very fortuitous or smart thing to do,” he said on Monday.

The Democrats will have plenty of leverage in the fight, empowered by the filibuster in the upper chamber, where Republican leaders will need at least nine Democratic votes to pass an omnibus bill funding the government. 

House GOP leaders face their own hurdles because dozens of conservatives have traditionally opposed big spending packages, forcing party leaders to reach across the aisle to Rep. Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiOvernight Health Care: Dem chair plans hearing on Medicare for all | Senate GOP talks drug prices with Trump health chief | PhRMA CEO hopeful Trump reverses course on controversial pricing proposal Centrist efforts to convince Trump to end shutdown falter On The Money: Shutdown Day 26 | Pelosi calls on Trump to delay State of the Union | Cites 'security concerns' | DHS chief says they can handle security | Waters lays out agenda | Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions MORE (Calif.), the Democratic leader, for votes. 

Those conservatives are already sounding alarms that they’ll oppose a government funding bill that adds to deficits or provides DACA protections without the tough immigration enforcement measures being pushed by Trump.

“Before an agreement is reached on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, we need to increase border security, improve interior enforcement, end the diversity lottery program, end chain migration, and provide new funding for a physical wall on the southern border,” Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerCorker: Breakthrough reached in shutdown stalemate Senate in last-minute talks to find deal to avert shutdown  GOP takes victory lap around Pelosi after passing border wall bill MORE (R-N.C.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, wrote Monday in an op-ed for The Washington Examiner.

An agreement reached in May to fund the government through last September gave the administration $1.5 billion for border security. But Trump was furious that he didn’t get the new wall funding he’d demanded, suggesting afterwards that he’d risk “a good shutdown” to secure that victory in the future.