For months, President Trump has insisted that he won’t strike a deal with Democrats to protect Dreamers unless his demands for increased border security are met. And for months, Congress has asked the White House to get more specific.
Now the Trump administration has a plan. In exchange for protecting undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, Trump wants $18 billion for a “big, beautiful wall” on the border with Mexico. The White House plan, leaked to the Wall Street Journal, calls for the construction and replacement of barriers along 700 miles of the nearly 2000-mile border. If the plan is completed as proposed, 940 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border would be covered by some kind of barrier.
But there’s no chance Trump gets what he wants. The border wall has too few fans in Congress and the opposition isn’t just among Democrats. USA Today found in September that only a quarter of congressional Republicans support the administration’s request for $1.6 billion to build 60 miles of wall near San Diego.
This new plan is much bigger, and not just because of the $18 billion requested to build the wall. The White House is also asking for an additional $15 billion to beef up other additional border security measures, including increased personnel, revamped technology and new roads.
The non-wall requests include $5.7 billion over five years for towers, surveillance equipment, unmanned aerial vehicles and other technology; $1 billion over five years for road construction and maintenance; and $8.5 billion over seven years for 5,000 new Border Patrol agents and other personnel.
The White House’s outsized demands will likely have to get smaller if Trump hopes to strike a deal with Democrats. And he might need such a deal. Immigration talks are linked to the spending bill needed to avert a government shutdown, and a government shutdown would be worse for Trump than the party out of power. It’s time for the master negotiator to get to work.