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Politics

Trump doubles down on his demand for a border wall

President Trump Departs for Pensacola, Washington, USA - 08 Dec 2017
President Trump leaves the Oval Office.
(Joe Lo Scalzo / EPA/Shutterstock)

President Trump still wants his wall.

Minutes after he signed a stopgap measure to give Congress two more weeks to negotiate a spending deal and avoid a government shutdown, the president renewed his call for lawmakers to fund his signature campaign promise — a large physical wall along the 2,000 miles of border between the United States and Mexico.

“We’re going to get the wall,” Trump said at the White House on Friday after Kirstjen Nielsen was sworn in as the new secretary of Homeland Security. “If we don’t get the wall, then I got a lot of very unhappy people, starting with me.”

Trump added that he wanted to overhaul the country’s legal immigration system to make it “merit-based” and to “get rid of chain migration,” which allows U.S. citizens to bring qualified family members from abroad.

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His demands to reduce the flow of legal immigrants as well as build a border wall are likely roadblocks to an agreement to keep the government open beyond Dec. 22.

The wall, which could cost tens of billions of dollars, is not popular with either party in Congress.

Moreover, Democrats want the spending bill to include legal protections for about 700,000 people brought illegally to the country as children who will be at risk of being deported starting early next year.

Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in September, and the deportation deferrals issued under the Obama-era program begin expiring on March 6.

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Republican lawmakers and Trump are demanding that any measure to help so-called Dreamers be paired with steep increases in funding for border security, money to build Trump’s wall, and new limits on who U.S. citizens can sponsor for permanent residency.

The White House believes such harsh measures would help prevent future waves of illegal border crossings.

According to government figures released this week, the number of people attempting to cross the border illegally has dropped sharply since Trump came into office, down 25% compared with the previous year, and the lowest since 1971. But arrests of undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. have soared.

Twitter: @ByBrianBennett

brian.bennett@latimes.com


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