House and Senate Democrats are using border wall negotiations to attempt to end all immigration enforcement by abolishing detention of illegal aliens, while Republicans are united in surrendering on significantly funding a border wall along the United States-Mexico border.
In negotiations on Capitol Hill, Democrats have sought forcefully for a plan that not only decreases total detention space for federal immigration officials to house border crossers and illegal aliens, but the left-wing caucus is also seeking to phase out all immigration detention by the next fiscal year.
The Democrat plan attempts to gut the number of detention beds for border crossers that federal immigration officials would have readily available to ensure illegal aliens are not released into the interior of the U.S.
Democrats are looking to only fund about 16,500 detention beds, far fewer than the roughly 40,000 to 42,000 beds that are currently available to keep border crossers in detention and a lot less than the 52,000 beds that President Trump has requested Congress fund.
While Democrats seek an end to immigration detention — resulting in a mass release of all illegal aliens arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border — Republican lawmakers are unwilling to demand the border wall be funded to the sum of about $5 billion – what the president originally requested.
Instead, Republicans have conceded on wall funding, accepting anywhere between $1.3 to $2 billion for total border security. As Breitbart News reported, Trump has indicated to aides that he would be open to accepting the low level of wall funding.
The conference committee was formed after Trump reopened the federal government following a shutdown without securing any funding for the border wall. Members of the committee include:
Alabama Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven, Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, Texas Rep. Kay Granger, Tennesee Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, Georgia Rep. Tom Graves, and Mississippi Rep. Steven Palazzo, Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin, Montana Sen. Jon Tester, New York Rep. Nita Lowey, California Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, North Carolina Rep. David Price, California Rep. Barbara Lee, Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar, and California Rep. Pete Aguilar.
The committee was formed to work on a funding package for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with a deadline of February 15, a funding route that experts have said the president never had to take.
Defense Department officials have reiterated that Trump does not need approval from Congress and, also, does not have to declare a national emergency to begin construction of the border wall. Instead, the president could have invoked 10 United States Code § 284, which authorizes the U.S. military to build barriers at the southern border, a Pentagon official has testified to Congress.
Total construction of the proposed southern border wall would cost about $25 billion. At the current rate, securing about $1.3 to $2 billion for the border wall would fund less than 205 miles of wall construction on the roughly 2,000-mile long U.S.-Mexico border.
While the Trump administration still waits to build a wall after Republicans controlled Congress for the two years, illegal immigration at the southern border is expected to reach levels that have not been seen since President George W. Bush. Researchers project, at current rates, there will be more than 600,000 illegal aliens apprehended at the border this year. In December 2018, there were about 51,000 border crossers apprehended.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.