President Donald Trump disputed his chief of staff's claim that he has "evolved" in his thinking about his signature campaign promise of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border—writing in two early morning tweets that his plans for the wall and how it will be funded have never changed.
The Wall is the Wall, it has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it. Parts will be, of necessity, see through and it was never intended to be built in areas where there is natural protection such as mountains, wastelands or tough rivers or water.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2018
....The Wall will be paid for, directly or indirectly, or through longer term reimbursement, by Mexico, which has a ridiculous $71 billion dollar trade surplus with the U.S. The $20 billion dollar Wall is “peanuts” compared to what Mexico makes from the U.S. NAFTA is a bad joke!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2018
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Chief of Staff John Kelly told a group of Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday that Trump had not been "fully informed" about the plausibility of building a $20 billion wall stretching nearly 2,000 miles when he repeatedly mentioned the plan, and his intention to force Mexico to pay for it, on the campaign trail.
Kelly's came as Democrats and Republicans work to reach a bipartisan deal to protect 800,000 undocumented immigrants protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program—negotiations that were almost derailed by Trump's racist comments about immigrants and DACA recipients from Haiti and African countries last week.
The president's return to insisting on a Mexico-funded wall, coupled with his reported remarks, signal a departure from the brief moment last week when he appeared ready to allow the bipartisan negotiations to move forward. As Tim Dickinson wrote at Rolling Stone on Wednesday:
We are now left with an alternate explanation for ending DACA—racism—and president Trump's unwavering demand for a 30-foot high monument to his bigotry, the wall. In contrast to the DACA immigrants who contribute to our country, the wall is a useless drain on our economy. Building a barrier along the southern border would cost upwards of $25 billion. But it would do little to curb illegal immigration. A wall would add only minutes to the journey of a determined border crosser in the desert... But then, the wall was never serious policy; it was fundamentally a campaign stunt.