A couple of provisions on immigration in the president’s proposed budget are raising eyebrows at a president who ran on curbing the influx of foreign refugees and constructing a wall along the southern border.
To begin, the money allotted for the construction of the wall is surprisingly low, considering that building project was Trump’s most prominent campaign promise.
A statement from the Federation for American Immigration Reform contends that it looks like Mexico’s going to have to pay for the wall after all, since the administration’s spending proposal does not even cover a tenth of the wall’s estimated construction costs.
“We can only assume that President Trump has struck a secret deal with Mexico to get them to pay for the border fence he promised, because funding for the project sure isn’t in the budget proposal he sent to Congress,” FAIR president Dan Stein says in the release. “After yielding to Democratic obstructionists on funding for the fence in order to ensure passage of the omnibus spending bill earlier this month, the president implied that he would fight to ensure that adequate funding was included in the FY 2018 budget. Nothing in this budget proposal suggests that he is fighting very hard.”
During an exchange with Rep. Glen Grothman, R-Wis., on the Hill Wednesday, Trump’s budget boss, Mick Mulvaney, testified that the bill asks for $4.2 billion in overall border defense, but could not say with certainty how much would be used on new physical barriers, Fox News reports.
But even if all of that amount went toward the border wall, it would still be less than half of even conservative cost estimates for the project – which begin around $10-15 billion.
Meanwhile, the same budget would also fund the influx of tens of thousands of refugees, according to a report by the Daily Caller’s Alex Pfeiffer, who outlines how billions of dollars in appropriated funds to the State Department, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Department of Health and Human services would facilitate the resettlement of 50,000 refugees from other countries.
The number would be fewer than Obama’s 85,000 in the last fiscal year of his presidency but falls just a few thousand short of Obama’s resettlement levels in 2011 and 2012, the report continues. With a refugee moratorium tied up by the federal courts and no request for Congress to address the issue via legislation, the issue appears to be relegated to the back burner for now.
Of course, proposed budgets from presidents typically don’t end up becoming law and are little more than aspirational messaging documents used to outline what the president’s priorities are. The message put forward by this juxtaposition signals that Trump’s current immigration priorities don’t appear to be the same ones we heard on the campaign trail.