— Donald Trump claims he ‘never meant’ Mexico would directly pay for border
- President Donald Trump speaks to the media as he leaves the White House Thursday, en route for a trip to the border in Texas as the government shutdown continues.
- US President Donald J. Trump responds to a question from the news media as he walks to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC,
Donald Trump has made a shocking U-turn over previous vows to make Mexico pay for a wall spanning the length of the US southern border. ‘During the campaign, I would say Mexico would pay for it, obviously, I never said this and never meant that they would write out a check,’ the president said at the White House Thursday. The jaw-dropping admission came despite Trump claiming on numerous occasions that Mexico will be forced to pay for the wall, with that vow a key election campaign promise.
‘I will build a great, great wall on our southern border and I will have Mexico pay for that wall,’ Trump said during a campaign speech in June 2015.
The president made the u-turn amid a deepening crisis caused by the Democrats’ refusal to green-light a $5.7billion package to pay for the wall, which has prompted a 20 day government shutdown.
On Thursday, Trump visited the border and said that he wanted to declare a national emergency to bypass congress and build the wall – but appeared confused and indecisive about what he was actually planning on doing
‘I have the absolute right to declare a national emergency. I haven’t done it yet, I may do it. If this doesn’t work out, probably I will do it. I would almost say definitely,’ Trump said at the White House before his visit to the border.
Whether or not Trump can constitutionally declare a national emergency to build the border wall has been highly debated.
Some say it is possible, but Trump would have to find already-existing laws he could use to get the money.
Right now there are about 130 laws that contain special powers that Trump could access, according to The Brennan Center for Justice.
One of options Trump has would be to declare a ‘state of immigration emergency,’ which would unlock an immigration emergency fund, which contains about $20 million at this point – nowhere near the $5 billion needed for the wall.
Other legal analysts say that Trump cannot declare a national emergency, because it would be unconstitutional to spend money that congress has not authorized.
There are various competing court cases that can be used to argue for, and against, using a national emergency demarcation to build the wall.
But recent reports about the physical integrity of the wall itself are seemingly more concerning – it proved to be utterly disappointing and was rendered useless by a common saw.
The Department of Homeland Security tested the steel slat prototype by instructing military and Border Patrol personnel to attempt to destroy it with common tools.
During his presidential campaign, Trump promised an ‘impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful wall’. In spring 2018, he visited solid prototypes in San Diego, but has since performed another u-turn by starting to refer to the wall as being made from ‘steel slats’.
Dept. of Homeland Security testing of a steel slat prototype for border wall proved it could be cut through with a saw, according to a report by DHS. https://t.co/XxIbERSlhS
— NBC News (@NBCNews) January 10, 2019
Trump’s administration built eight steel and concrete wall prototypes last march, and has since settled on a ‘steel bollard’ design, which typically features a steel pipe filled with concrete.
The tests on the wall were conducted in late 2017, but photos of the breached walls were recently obtained by San Diego public broadcaster KPBS after a Freedom of information act request was filed.
Border patrol officials defended the flimsy wall by claiming its ability to keep people out is only one of its functions.
‘The steel bollard design is internally reinforced with materials that require time and multiple industrial tools to breach, thereby providing U.S. Border Patrol agents additional response time to affect a successful law enforcement resolution,’ said Department of Homeland Security Spokeswoman Katie Waldman.
‘The professionals on the border know that a wall system is intended not only to prevent entry, it is intended to defer and to increase the amount of time and effort it takes for one to enter so that we can respond with limited border patrol agents. Even a wall that is being breached is a valuable tool in that it allows us to respond to the attempted illegal entry.’
After the photos surfaced, Customs and Border spokesman Ralph DeSio said the prototypes ‘were not and cannot be designed to be indestructible’ and instead were made to ‘impede or deny efforts to scale, breach, or dig under such a barrier, giving agents time to respond.’