Friday, 28/2/2020 | 8:17 UTC+0
Libyan Newswire

Trump moves to build Mexico border wall

President Donald Trump moved aggressively to tighten the nation's immigration controls Wednesday, signing executive actions to jump-start construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall and block federal grants from immigrant-protecting "sanctuary cities."

"Beginning today the United States of America gets back control of its borders," Trump declared during a visit to the Department of Homeland Security. "We are going to save lives on both sides of the border."

Trump cast his actions as fulfillment of a pledge to enact hard-line immigration measures, including construction of a wall paid for by Mexico. With families of Americans killed by people living in the U.S. illegally sitting in the audience, Trump said, "When it comes to public safety, there is no place for politics."

Funding for the border wall project is murky. While Trump has repeatedly promised that Mexico will pay for it, U.S. taxpayers are expected to cover the initial costs, and the new administration has said nothing about how it will compel Mexico to reimburse the money. One of the executive actions Trump signed Wednesday appears to signal that he could restrict aid to Mexico.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who has insisted his country will not pay for a wall, is expected to meet Trump at the White House next week, despite calls from some lawmakers for him to cancel his visit. Congressional aides say there is about $100 million of unspent appropriations in the Department of Homeland Security account for border security, fencing and infrastructure. That would allow planning to get started, but far more money would have to be appropriated for when construction gets underway.

The president's orders also call for hiring 5,000 additional border patrol agents, though the increase is subject to congressional approval. He also moved to end what Republicans have labeled a catch-and-release system at the border. Currently, some immigrants caught crossing the border illegally are released and given notices to report back to immigration officials at a later date.

Later in the week, Trump is expected to sign orders restricting the flow of refugees into the U.S. His 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 " including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen " according to a source from a public policy organization that monitors refugee issues.

Trump's order to crack down on sanctuary cities - locales that don't cooperate with immigration authorities - could cost individual jurisdictions millions of dollars. But the administration may face legal challenges, given that some federal courts have found that local jurisdictions cannot hold immigrants beyond their jail term or deny them bond based only a request from immigration authorities. In other developments Wednesday, Trump tweeted that he is ordering a "major investigation" into voter fraud, revisiting unsubstantiated claims he's made repeatedly about a rigged voting system.The investigation, he said, will look at those registered to vote in more than one state, "those who are illegal and ... even, those registered to vote who are dead [and many for a long time]." Trump has been fixated on his loss of the popular vote and a concern that the legitimacy of his presidency is being challenged by Democrats and the media, aides and associates say.

Source: National News Agency