House Republicans Test Trump on his U.S.- Mexico Wall

By Elliot Bullman

Republicans in the House of Representatives hope to offer President-elect Donald Trump an alternate plan to his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall, a first test by lawmakers from his own party of one of his key campaign promises.

Mexico_ _US_Pacific_Ocean_Border_Fence_(15999598736)Original Image: "Mexico - US Pacific Ocean Border Fence" by Tony Webster, used under CC BY 2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons.

Just a day after Trump's stunning election victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton, congressional aides told Reuters the lawmakers wanted to meet with Trump's advisers to discuss a less costly option to his "big, beautiful, powerful wall."

The plan would involve more border fencing and additional border staffing with federal agents, many of whom belong to labor unions that supported Trump's candidacy, the aides said.

Double layers of fencing would be extended along parts of the roughly 2,000-mile (3,200-km) border, rather than constructing a brick-and-mortar wall, according to the proposal.

A House Republican aide and a Department of Homeland Security official said a wall was not realistic because it would block visibility for border agents and cut through rugged terrain, as well as bodies of water and private land.

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The House aide said House Republicans working on the alternative plan were waiting for Trump's transition team to be put in place before setting a date for the meeting.

Immigration was a central feature of the Trump campaign, focusing on concerns among some voters about illegal immigrants and perceptions they take jobs and pose security risks.

If Congress stands up to Trump, his wall may end up being a fence extension, said Steve Legomsky, professor emeritus and immigration law expert at Washington University School of Law.

"Congress won't fund the kind of wall Trump promised, and Mexico won't pay for it. But to save face, President Trump and congressional leaders will likely agree to a modest extension of the existing border fence," Legomsky predicted.

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