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Border Wall and Mass Deportations: Trump’s Next Big Mistake?

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Donald Trump’s proposed budget is out today, and there’s a lot to take issue with. There are billions of dollars in cuts to housing, emergency management, transportation, health and human services, education, and the environment. Trump would funnel that money — and more — into defense and border security. He’s demanding $4.1 billion for a border wall through 2018 — that’s more than ten times what President Obama requested for border security maintenance in the current fiscal year — and more than $1 billion in additional immigration enforcement. It’s a ridiculous amount of money that American taxpayers (not Mexico!) will be on the hook for, and the Center for American Progress has already published a list of things that money could pay for instead.

If the president plans to push ahead with his border wall and his deportation agenda, these issues could turn into Trump’s next big mistake. Republicans are already running away, Democrats are making a stand, and border logistics are turning out to be quite complicated. Considering the major failures Trump has already sustained in just the first couple months of his presidency, he should really reconsider the looming immigration fight ahead.

The problem of border logistics

It turns out that quite a few people live around the border area, and residents from Arizona ranchers to Texas landowners are questioning the purpose of a big, stupid, hulking wall. Texans have received the first notices of land condemnation — some of them for property that has been in the same family for generations. Those who don’t want to sell could end up suing the federal government, which could end up causing a headache for Trump. Furthermore, it seems that much of the border area is not even suited for building things like walls, as Fox News noted:

The southern border between the U.S. and Mexico is made up of wetlands, grasslands, desert, rivers, mountains and forests — all of which could pose pitfalls for builders.

Swaths of the area also feature a thick layer of loose sediment — like dirt, sand and soil — on top. Some spots are packed with hydrophilic clay soil, which swells, moves and could destroy the foundation.

Republicans are running away from Trump

Since Trump’s inauguration, Congressional Republicans have been completely spineless when it comes to standing up to Trump, his flagrantly unconstitutional travel bans, his administration’s clear conflicts of interest, his indiscriminate targeting of immigrants, and more. But on his border wall, some Republicans are finally finding something unpopular enough to maybe not go along with. Here are some of the things Republicans have said about Trump’s wall and his proposed budget:

  • Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX): “I prefer to see a plan first before we start appropriating money. We won’t just appropriate money and have the plan TBD. And I’ve got some questions.”
  • Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI): “I’ve never thought we needed a 2,000-mile wall. We have to use technology. We have to use boots on the ground in some areas.”
  • A spokeswoman for Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) said that Sessions considers Trump’s wall an “analogy” for how Trump will “strengthen border security, protect our sovereignty, and maintain our nation’s rule of law.”
  • Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO): “Billions of dollars on a wall is not the right way to proceed.”
  • Sen. James Lankford (R-OK): “We shouldn’t just build a wall and add billions of dollars because that’s what somebody said should be done. We can’t pay for it out of thin air.”
  • Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX): When asked by the Texas Tribune if that meant he supported a contiguous wall along the entire border, a spokeswoman declined to comment.
  • Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX): “Do we need to build a wall the entire way? That’s a discussion we’ll have.”
  • In fact, the Texas Tribune reported that “none of the 38-member Texas delegation offered full-throated support of a complete border wall.”

Democrats: We’ll fight Trump’s border wall and deportation force

Democrats, led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), have already indicated their willingness to take Trump on over the border wall and his mass deportation agenda. As Sen. Schumer said in a statement earlier this week:

If Republicans insist on inserting poison pill riders such as defunding Planned Parenthood, building a border wall, or starting a deportation force, they will be shutting down the government and delivering a severe blow to our economy.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), further called the wall “useless” and groused that “I thought we were going to get a check from Mexico.”

He added that the wall will “accomplish nothing. That’s $30 billion that can’t go into cancer research, diabetes research and veterans care.”

Poll: 3% of registered voters think Trump should prioritize building a wall

Finally, a Fox News poll found that just three percent of registered voters think that Trump’s top priority should be building a wall. That might have something to do with how border crossings have for years been at a forty-year low. Three percent is not a lot of people to go out of your way to please, even if a wall was one of Trump’s signature campaign promises. With Republicans deserting Trump and Democrats promising to make life very painful for him, is Trump really ready to bumble into his next big mistake?

As Francis Wilkinson at Bloomberg put it:

It turns out that borders, much like health insurance, are complicated. Perhaps Congress will encourage Trump to settle for a symbolic barrier and lots of technology doing the real work. If not, Republicans may move from voting to take some Americans’ health insurance away to voting to take others’ land away.