WASHINGTON (CBSMiami/AP) — President Donald Trump says his executive actions on immigration on Wednesday show that ‘beginning today,’ the U.S. will get back “control of its border.”
President Trump spoke at the Department of Homeland Security shortly after signing executive orders to strengthen border security and crack down on immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. It will set in motion the construction of his proposed border wall, a key promise from his 2016 campaign.
Trump said his administration will be working in partnership with Mexico to improve safety and economic opportunity for both countries. Trump indicated they will have “close coordination” with Mexico to address drug smuggling.
“We’re going to save lives on both sides of the border,” said Trump.
Another executive order, signed Wednesday, stripped funding for so-called sanctuary cities, which don’t arrest or detain immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.
Trump, in an interview Wednesday with ABC News, said he expected construction of the wall to begin within months. U.S. taxpayers are expected to pay for the upfront costs, though Trump continues to assert that Mexico will reimburse the money through unspecified means.
“There will be a payment, it will be in a form, perhaps a complicated form,” Trump said, adding that negotiations with Mexico would begin soon. Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who has insisted his country will not pay for a wall, is to meet with Trump at the White House next week.
The president was said to still be weighing the details of plans to curb the number of refugees coming to the U.S. The current proposal includes at least a four-month halt on all refugee admissions, as well as a temporary ban on people coming from some Muslim-majority countries, according to a source from a public policy organization that monitors refugee issues. The person was briefed on the details of that proposed action by a government official and outlined the plan to The Associated Press.
Trump campaigned on pledges to tighten U.S. immigration policies, including strengthening border security and stemming the flow of refugees. His call for a border wall was among his most popular proposals with supporters, who often broke out in chants of “build that wall” during rallies.
In response to terrorism concerns, Trump controversially called for halting entry to the U.S. from Muslim countries. He later turned to a focus on “extreme vetting” for those coming from countries with terrorism ties.
In claiming authority to build a wall, Trump may rely on a 2006 law that authorized several hundred miles of fencing along the 2,000-mile frontier. That bill led to the construction of about 700 miles of various kinds of fencing designed to block both vehicles and pedestrians.
The Secure Fence Act was signed by then-President George W. Bush, and the majority of that fencing in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California was built before he left office. The last remnants were completed after President Barack Obama took office in 2009.
The Trump administration also must adhere to a decades-old border treaty with Mexico that limits where and how structures can be built along the border. The 1970 treaty requires that structures cannot disrupt the flow of the rivers, which define the U.S.-Mexico border along Texas and 24 miles in Arizona, according to The International Boundary and Water Commission, a joint U.S.-Mexican agency that administers the treaty.
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