Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is echoing President Trump’s claim that construction on the United States-Mexico border of replacement fencing is “the Trump border wall.”
At the White House, Nielsen said that projects at the southern border — like the one Trump previously tweeted about where replacement fencing has been going up since February — are the “new wall” that Trump supporters have been waiting for, despite the fact that DHS is currently banned from constructing a wall using the new, effective wall prototypes that Trump toured last month.
Nielsen said, “To us, it’s all new wall. If there was a wall before that needs to be replaced, it’s being replaced by a new wall. This is the Trump border wall.”
Nielsen’s sentiments about the wall match up with Trump’s recent statements on the progress of his border wall, where he has attempted to convince his base that the new fencing is actually the so-called “southern border wall” that he had in mind during the 2016 presidential election.
Great briefing this afternoon on the start of our Southern Border WALL! pic.twitter.com/pmCNoxxlkH
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2018
In 2016, when giving his historic immigration speech in Phoenix, Arizona, Trump announced:
On day one, we will begin working on an impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful, southern border wall. We will use the best technology including above and below ground sensors — that’s the tunnels — remember that, above and below. Above and below ground sensors, towers, aerial surveillance, and manpower to supplement the wall, find and dislocate tunnels, and keep out criminal cartels… [Emphasis added]
So far, the lack of a border wall on the southern border has resulted in an illegal immigration crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, similar to that of the 2014 border crisis under former President Obama.
Last month, the Trump administration saw a more than 200 percent increase in illegal immigration when comparing March 2017 to March 2018. Trump was warned this month by allies that his base of supporters are increasingly fed up with a lack progress on ending illegal immigration.
Trump’s populist immigration agenda, touted on the campaign trail — wherein he has called on the Republican-controlled Congress to reduce overall immigration levels to raise the wages of American workers — has largely fallen on deaf ears with the GOP leadership.
Despite immigration being the most important issue to Republican voters in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections, Republican lawmakers have refused to take it up, as Trump has. Instead, the Republican leadership is planning to tout their tax reform legislation as their biggest achievement, though half of swing voters say the tax cuts will have “no impact” on their vote in the midterms.
Taking matters into his own hands, Trump has announced this week that he will deploy about 4,000 National Guard troops to the southern border to help shore up Border Patrol agents so that they can readily focus on arresting and detaining illegal aliens and border-crossers.
The deployment by Trump is 2,000 fewer troops than former President George W. Bush sent to the border in 2006 under a similar operation called “Operation Jump Start.”