One of President Donald Trump’s main campaign promises, and his most contentious issue to date, was to build a southern border wall between Mexico and the U.S. Since his inauguration, there has been significant pushback from Democrats, political organizations, and even some Republicans; but it appears that the wall will be going ahead, anyway.
When he first announced the wall, the president said he would protect:
“the southern border of the United States through the immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border monitored and supported by adequate personnel so as to prevent illegal immigration, drug and human trafficking and acts of terrorism.”
Despite many months of seeming immobility, President Trump remains committed to getting it built. He said in his Arizona rally last week:
“Believe me; if we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall.”
This is a clear threat to shut down Government on October 1st if funding isn’t approved for the project. Congress hasn’t yet passed a spending resolution to keep the government fully operational past September 30th, and many see this as a very powerful way of getting his mandate fulfilled.
Customs and Border Protection Acting Deputy Commissioner, Ronald Vitiello, held a press conference on Thursday where he announced that:
“Through the construction of prototypes, we are partnering with the industry to identify the best way to build new and replacement infrastructure along our border before we make further investments.” Vitiello said that the prototypes would be built in San Diego using a variety of materials, stressing that this was not a single solution move, and that other protections would be in place: “The prototypes and resulting wall infrastructure will complement the various other tools that we employ to secure our borders,” he said.
The four companies that have been awarded contracts to build the prototype walls are Caddell Construction Company of Montgomery, Ala.; Fisher Sand & Gravel of Tempe, Ariz.; Texas Sterling Construction Company of Houston, Texas; and WG Yates and Sons Construction of Philadelphia, Miss.
Many in the media are wondering how seriously Congress is taking the president’s threat to shut down the government if the budget does not include money for the wall. Advocates suggest that the president is deadly serious and will do whatever is necessary to ensure that the mandate he is carried through.
Mexico has officially stated that it will not pay for the border wall despite President Trump’s assurances that they will; even if it is through reimbursement.
Congress was unable to get the repeal of Obamacare done, which many say will make it harder to get the tax reforms done as well. With mid-term elections looming, the Republican controlled Congress is desperate. The Wall may be their last chance at a “win” before the mid-term election cycle begins. The Senate especially needs a legislative win or Republicans risk losing seats in the mid-terms.
Mark is a political writer and journalist who has worked on campaigns for Brexit.