The Trump administration has put forward an $18 billion proposal to fund the building of a border wall with Mexico over the next ten years, a measure which would ensure it is funded well after the president leaves office.
The Custom and Border Protection proposal includes an expansion of the current barrier by 316 miles by September 2027. That would bring the coverage of the barrier to 970 miles, nearly half the border with Mexico. It also requests 407 miles of replacement or secondary fencing.
Trump promised to build a "big, beautiful wall" on the Mexican border during his 2016 campaign. It is the premier part of his plan to curb illegal immigration, and continues to be one of the most controversial issues from the election. The administration has already requested $1.6 billion to build or replace 74 miles of fencing in Texas and California. Officials will reportedly ask for another $1.6 billion next year.
The decade-long plan is the result of CBP meetings with senators, including outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who asked what it would take to secure the nation's border. It comes just as Congress prepares to return to Washington, D.C. where immigration is expected to be a priority issue for both Republicans and Democrats. While Republicans seek ways to tighten up illegal immigration, Democrats want aim to find some kind of protected status for the 800,000 people brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Trump announced last year that he was ending the Obama-era protection known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, but gave Congress until March to come up with a legislative solution.
The wall would be "first and foremost" in any package that includes a new protection for DACA recipients, according to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. Conversely, any bipartisan support for an immigration funding package, particularly in the Senate, would likely have to include some kind of DACA provision.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.