Border Chief Sets 1,000-mile Goal for Trump's Wall, Leaving Half of U.S.-Mexico Border Unfenced

WASHINGTON -- The administration is aiming to construct a wall along roughly half the U.S.-Mexico border, the nation's Border Patrol chief said Friday -- a thousand-mile barrier that could fall well short of what President Donald Trump has demanded.Roughly 654 miles of the border is already fenced, and Congress has rebuffed Trump's demand for $25 billion for wall construction. The budget that Trump grudgingly signed a week ago includes $1.6 billion for border security, enough for just about 33 miles of new barrier plus about twice that much of replacement fencing.Ronald Vitiello, chief of the Border Patrol and acting deputy commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said a thousand mile target "will make a major dent" in the nation's security challenges. But in a briefing with reporters, he conceded that he's not sure Trump has signed off on that target. "We appreciate this down payment ... but it does not fully fund our needs in the most critical locations," he said.In recent weeks, the spin from Trump and his administration has vacillated between frustration that Congress has refused to fund his wall and boasts that construction is well underway. Trump was so unhappy about the sum Congress provided for border security in the $1.3 trillion spending deal that he threatened a veto, raising the specter of a government shutdown. He relented within hours and signed the measure. Vitiello said Friday that $25 billion would be enough to upgrade existing fencing and add about 300 miles of new pedestrian barrier.  Continue reading...

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