Skip to main content

Migrants stand together along the U.S./Mexican border wall as they wait to turn themselves over to the U.S. Border Patrol on Feb. 12, 2019 in El Paso, Texas.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Congressional Republicans and Democrats have reached a spending deal to avoid another U.S. government shutdown at the end of the week – and once again funding for U.S. President Donald Trump’s signature border wall has been drastically scaled back.

Read more: Trump reportedly expected to sign bipartisan deal to avoid U.S. government shutdown

The accord, struck late on Monday, contains US$1.375-billion – enough to build about 90 kilometres of wall along the border with Mexico – far short of the US$5.7-billion Mr. Trump had demanded. It is also less than the US$1.6-billion congressional leaders floated in a December deal the President rejected, triggering a 35-day government shutdown followed by two weeks of tense negotiations.

Story continues below advertisement

The agreement also aims to rein in the number of unauthorized immigrants held in detention by the government – without imposing a hard cap.

Now, Mr. Trump must decide whether to take the deal and face a backlash from his base or risk angering voters with another stoppage of government services.

“I can’t say I’m happy. I can’t say I’m thrilled,” the President told a cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning. “But the wall is getting built regardless … we’re doing other things beyond what we’re talking about here.”

He added later, “I don’t think you’re going to see a shutdown.”

He did not specify the “other things” he was considering, but the White House has mulled moving money out of other programs to pay for the wall without requiring congressional approval – including, as Politico has reported, disaster relief for California and Puerto Rico and new infrastructure for military bases.

On the campaign trail in 2016, Mr. Trump promised to build a wall between 1,600 and 3,200 kilometres long – and paid for by Mexico. After more than two years in office, he has only secured funding to build about 125 kilometres, three-quarters of which would replace existing fencing. The bill is being footed by U.S. taxpayers.

a short history of

border wall funding

U.S. President Donald Trump made building a

wall along the 2,000-mile (3,200-km) border

with Mexico a central promise in his election

campaign. But so far the actual amount of

funding that Congress has authorized for barri-

ers along the border has fallen far short of what

the President has requested:

2016: On the campaign trail Trump says a

border wall will cost about US$8-to US12-billion.

February, 2017: Department of Homeland

Security estimates peg the cost of

a wall at US$21.6-billion.

May, 2017: Congress authorizes funding for

US$341.2-million to replace 40 miles of

border fencing.

(Approved under Obama.)

January, 2018: Trump says he wants

US$25-billion for a wall.

 

February, 2018: Congressional Republicans

and Democrats offer competing proposals

for US$25-billion in border wall funding

spread out over a decade, but the deals fall

apart over disagreements on changes to the

immigration system.

March, 2018: Trump signs a bill that autho-

rizes US$1.375-billion for some construction

at the border, including 25 new miles of wall

in Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

January, 2019: Trump asks for US$5.7-bil-

lion for a border wall.

Feb. 12, 2019: Congressional Republicans

and Democrats say they have signed an

agreement in principle to finance

US$1.375-billion for new fencing. If Mr.

Trump agrees to the compromise, Congress

will have funded slightly more than

US$3-billion in border-wall construction,

much of it to replace existing fencing.

tamsin mcmahon and JOHN SOPINSKI/

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: wires

a short history of border wall funding

U.S. President Donald Trump made building a wall along

the 2,000-mile (3,200-km) border with Mexico a central

promise in his election campaign. But so far the actual

amount of funding that Congress has authorized for barri-

ers along the border has fallen far short of what the Presi-

dent has requested:

2016: On the campaign trail

Trump says a border wall will

cost about US$8-to US12-billion.

US$8-to

US12-billion

February, 2017: Department

of Homeland Security

estimates peg the cost of

a wall at US$21.6-billion.

May, 2017: Congress autho-

rizes funding for

US$341.2-million to replace

40 miles of border fencing.

(Approved under Obama.)

US$21.6-billion

January, 2018: Trump says

he wants US$25-billion for a

wall.

 

February, 2018: Congressio-

nal Republicans and Demo-

crats offer competing propos-

als for US$25-billion in border

wall funding spread out over

a decade, but the deals fall

apart over disagreements on

changes to the immigration

system.

US$341.2-million

US$25-billion

March, 2018: Trump signs a

bill that authorizes

US$1.375-billion for some

construction at the border,

including 25 new miles of

wall in Rio Grande Valley of

Texas.

US$1.375-billion

January, 2019: Trump asks

for US$5.7-billion for a border

wall.

Feb. 12, 2019: Congressional

Republicans and Democrats

say they have signed an

agreement in principle to

finance US$1.375-billion for

new fencing. If Mr. Trump

agrees to the compromise,

Congress will have funded

slightly more than US$3-bil-

lion in border-wall construc-

tion, much of it to replace

existing fencing.

US$5.7-billion

US$1.375-to

US$3-billion

tamsin mcmahon and JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE

AND MAIL, SOURCE: wires

a short history of border wall funding

U.S. President Donald Trump made building a wall along the 2,000-mile

(3,200-km) border with Mexico a central promise in his election campaign. But so

far the actual amount of funding that Congress has authorized for barriers along

the border has fallen far short of what the President has requested:

2016: On the campaign trail Trump

says a border wall will cost about

US$8-to US12-billion.

February, 2017: Department of Home

land Security estimates peg the cost of

a wall at US$21.6-billion.

US$8-to US12-billion

May, 2017: Congress authorizes fund

ing for US$341.2-million to replace 40

miles of border fencing.

(Approved under Obama.)

January, 2018: Trump says he wants

US$25-billion for a wall.

 

February, 2018: Congressional Republi-

cans and Democrats offer competing

proposals for US$25-billion in border

wall funding spread out over a decade,

but the deals fall apart over disagree

ments on changes to the immigration

system.

US$21.6-billion

US$341.2-million

March, 2018: Trump signs a bill that

authorizes US$1.375-billion for some

construction at the border, including 25

new miles of wall in Rio Grande Valley

of Texas.

US$25-billion

January, 2019: Trump asks for US$5.7-

billion for a border wall.

US$1.375-billion

Feb. 12, 2019: Congressional Republi-

cans and Democrats say they have

signed an agreement in principle to

finance US$1.375-billion for new fenc-

ing. If Mr. Trump agrees to the compro-

mise, Congress will have funded slight

ly more than US$3-billion in border-wall

construction, much of it to replace

existing fencing.

US$5.7-billion

US$1.375-to US$3-billion

tamsin mcmahon and JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: wires

The President is under pressure from Republican congressional leaders to agree to the funding bill. No one is eager for a repeat of the shutdown, during which 800,000 federal employees went unpaid, security lines backed up for hours at major airports, tax returns were unprocessed and some social-housing programs ran out of money.

Story continues below advertisement

“We are grateful to our colleagues on the appropriations committee for their leadership and are eager to see them complete this work,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the floor of the Senate, adding that he hoped to “act on this legislation in short order.”

But the right-wing pundits most aligned with Mr. Trump’s agenda slammed the deal and, in some cases, mocked the President for even considering it.

“Trump talks a good game on the border wall but it’s increasingly clear he’s afraid to fight for it. Call this his ‘Yellow New Deal,’” Ann Coulter tweeted.

Fox News host Sean Hannity gave a look of disgust as he read out the US$1.3-billion figure on the air on Monday.

“Any Republican that supports this garbage compromise, you will have to explain,” he said.

The Democratic Leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, tacitly acknowledged that his own party won’t be happy about providing the President with any money for his wall, but he suggested it was worth it to avoid closing the government again.

Story continues below advertisement

“As in all bipartisan agreements, everybody had to give something,” he told reporters at the Capitol. “The President should not make the same mistake he made a couple of months ago, when there was a bipartisan agreement and he wouldn’t sign it and caused the shutdown.”

The deal also contains funding for immigration detention beds that would hold roughly 45,000 people every day – a bid by Democrats to reduce the number of people being detained from the current 49,000. That figure has risen steadily over the past two years as the Trump administration has pushed a crackdown on undocumented immigrants and ordered that they be routinely kept in custody while their deportation proceedings unfold.

Much of the government is currently funded with a short-term supply bill that was passed to end the shutdown last month while the two parties negotiated on the wall. It expires late Friday, meaning Congress must pass and Mr. Trump must sign a new bill by then to keep the government open.

The border wall was the foundational promise of Mr. Trump’s presidency – made at his campaign launch in 2015.

But he has failed to fund all but a small fraction of it.

In 2017, Congress allocated US$500-million for wall construction. But those funds were a holdover from the Obama administration rather than new money secured by Mr. Trump.

Story continues below advertisement

Last year, the President had an opportunity to secure US$25-billion in funding for border security as part of an immigration reform package that would have included a path to citizenship for 1.8 million “dreamers” – unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. But negotiations broke down. In the end, the funding bill included just US$1.375-billion for wall construction.

Funding to date provides only enough money to upgrade 146 kilometres of existing border fences and build a little more than 50 kilometres of new wall. The proposed deal would add 90 kilometres to that – which means Mr. Trump will have built slightly less new border wall than Barack Obama did in his first two years as president, although those projects were started under George W. Bush.

The revamped NAFTA between the United States, Canada and Mexico – signed last fall – does not contain any provision for Mexico to pay for the wall. Mr. Trump has insisted that the deal will reduce the U.S. trade deficit, which will constitute “payment” for the wall. The trade-deficit figure measures the value of goods and services sold across the border and does not actually represent a source of revenue for the government.

In a rally in El Paso, Tex., on Monday night, where contractors are in the midst of replacing a four-mile-long fence with 18-foot-high steel slats. Mr. Trump boasted that he has already fulfilled much of his campaign promise. “You really mean ‘Finish that wall,’” he said. “Because we’ve built a lot of it.”

To date construction has started on just eight new miles of 18-foot steel fencing along the Rio Grande in Hidalgo County in South Texas, at a cost of US$167-million. On Tuesday, the National Butterfly Center, based in Mission, Tex., asked a federal judge for a restraining order to stop the construction, which cuts across the non-profit group’s property.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom rebuked President Donald Trump on border security and immigration, saying Tuesday during his first State of the State speech that he will withdraw most of the state's National Guard troops from the Mexico border. The Associated Press
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter