Four Republican Senators introduced a bill this week that would fully fund President Donald Trump’s wall along the border of the United States and Mexico.
Building the wall was one of the key campaign promises that Trump made as he decried illegal immigration and its negative effects on the country. Up to 29 million illegal aliens are currently in the United States, according to a Yale study published in September.
Trump has praised the wall near Tijuana recently, saying it helped stop the mob of Central American migrants that tried to get into America by storming the border fence but were largely repelled by Border Patrol agents.
Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and John Kennedy (R-La.) introduced the bill, known as “The Wall Act,” into the Senate on Dec. 5. The lawmakers said the legislation is the first bill that identifies specific funding sources for the wall, which is estimated to cost around $25 billion.
Funding for Wall
The funding would come in part from cutting down on government payments by requiring welfare applicants to verify their citizenship and requiring a work-authorized social security number to claim refundable tax credits.
The other part of the funding would come from increasing the minimum fines on migrants who illegally cross into the United States and would also institute a minimum penalty for people who overstay their visas.
The legislation would save an increasing amount of money reaching a total of $33.5 billion by 2028, according to the Congressional Committee on Taxation (pdf).
“It pays for the wall by closing existing loopholes that allow illegal immigrants to receive federal benefits and increasing fines for illegal border crossings and visa overstays. By funding the wall through increased fines, we prevent any risk of dipping into Department of Defense funding, which is already stretched thin,” Rounds said in a statement.
“If you want to receive food stamps and other benefits, then you should prove your citizenship. If you cross the border illegally or overstay your visit to this country, then you should pay a stiff penalty,” added Kennedy.
“We’re going to build the wall through reforms that protect the integrity of hardworking American citizens’ tax dollars. It’s that simple,” said Inhofe.
The full text of the bill, S.3717, was not yet available as of Dec. 7.
Trump Presses for Wall
Trump has not yet commented on the bill, but previously indicated that if he doesn’t get money for the wall by the end of the year, the government could shut down.
“We’re in negotiation. If we don’t get border security, possible shutdown,” he told reporters on Nov. 29.
“I think the wall is a very important thing. Funding for the wall is very important. And I think the funding of the wall right now has never looked better,” he said on Nov. 27. “The areas that have been completed have been very, very strong.”
Trump signed a bill that extended government appropriations on Dec. 7 that was passed by the House and Senate. The new deadline is on Dec. 21.