Border security talks fail to progress
- Author: Sonia Alvarado Feb 11, 2019,
Feb 11, 2019, 0:56
A congressional deal seemed to stall even after Mulvaney convened a bipartisan group of lawmakers at Camp David on Friday.
The Homeland Security Department and other agencies are operating on a short-term spending bill that Trump signed January 25, when he ended the nation's longest ever government shutdown after 35 days. But negotiators on both sides told reporters late last week that they believed they were on the path to resolving the issues.
The language could stymie executive actions to build the barriers and has become another problem in the talks, the source said.
Democratic negotiators were hoping to cap the number of beds at 16,500.
On Sunday, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said "that executive time is on there to allow the President to prep for the next meeting, to debrief from the previous meeting - the phone calls start at 6:30 in the morning and they go until 11 o'clock at night". Democrats want to limit the number of beds to force the Trump administration to prioritize arresting and deporting serious criminals, not law-abiding immigrants. Trump has also threatened declaring a national emergency to get funding for a border wall.
"You can not take a shutdown off the table, and you can not take US $5.7 (S$7.7 billion) off the table", he said, referring to the level of funds Trump has been demanding for a wall on the US-Mexican border.
"As long as the goalposts continue moving, there's really no way we can lock in on an agreement, " said Republican Representative Tom Graves of Georgia, who serves on the conference committee, said on ABC's "This Week".
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"I'll say 50-50 we get a deal", Mr. Shelby told Fox. But rising to the fore was a related dispute over curbing Customs and Immigration Enforcement, or ICE, the federal agency that Republicans see as an emblem of tough immigration policies and Democrats accuse of often going too far. While the two sides are now said to be close to a dollar amount for border barriers, Democrats are making a higher level of funding for barriers contingent on the new cap for detention beds - something Republicans are resisting.
Democrats say they proposed their cap to force ICE to concentrate its internal enforcement efforts on risky immigrants, not those who lack legal authority to be in the country but are productive and otherwise pose no threat.
Trump seized on the stall in a pair of tweets on Sunday, saying Democrats were "offering very little money" for the wall and claiming Democrats actually wanted a shutdown for political purposes. "But I don't think anybody has an appetite for a government shutdown and I think everybody wants to make sure our borders are secure".
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby and Sen.
"We haven't reached a number on the barrier yet, but we're working and we're hoping we can get there".
"The government shutdown is technically still on the table; we do not want it to come to that but that option is still open to the president and will remain so", Mulvaney told "Fox News Sunday" viewers.
Mulvaney later added, "You can not take a shutdown off the table and you can not take $5.7 billion off the table".