Trump Seeks Funds for Texas Border Wall

Texas is at the center of phase one of President Trump's proposed border wall.  The president's 2018 budget, submitted to Congress last week, includes $1.6 billion in funding for border walls--all in South Texas.  That includes 60 miles of border walls in the Rio Grande Valley sector--32 miles of border fencing and 28 miles of a levee wall, designed to prevent flooding.

The Trump Administration has repeatedly touted plans to build the massive border wall promised by the president during last year's campaign, despite doubts raised by critics about the costs and logistics associated with the project.  Last week, the president's budget director Mick Mulvaney echoed the earlier promises, saying the administration is "dead serious" about the wall and calling it one of the president's "top three" budget priorities.

But back here in Texas, not everyone is on board with the wall plan.  "Some of us are against the wall, we'd rather see the technology and the personnel down there at the border," says Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo), who represents a border district.  "We'd rather have money spent on security, technology, cameras, sensors that we can put on the border."

Cuellar tells KTRH his opposition to the wall is based on several factors, including the cost and land issues.  "In Texas we respect property rights, and they're going to be taking property away," he says.  "And the cost--six-and-a-half million dollars more per mile for a fence compared to one mile of technology."

The Trump administration appears to be gearing up for a land fight.  Also included in the president's budget is money for hiring new Department of Justice attorneys to address eminent domain cases.

Aside from cost and land issues, Texas leaders from both sides of the aisle, including Sen. John Cornyn (R), have expressed concerns about the wall interfering with legitimate commerce and harming the Texas economy.  Cuellar echoes that concern.  "There's a lot of Mexicans who go to Houston and spend a lot of money at hotels, restaurants and retail there," he says.  "So we want to let the legitimate things come in, it's how do we keep the bad people out...we just have to be smart about how we secure the border."

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