New stumbling block emerges in talks to avert another US shutdown

Negotiations broke down during the weekend over a new issue: funding for immigrant detention beds. The sticking point has previously been Trump’s demand to build a concrete or steel wall along the US-Mexico border.

Children from Anapra, Mexico, climb a section of the new border wall recently built in New Mexico.

Children from Anapra, Mexico, climb a section of the new border wall recently built in New Mexico. Credit:AP

House Appropriations Committee chairwoman Nita Lowey, a Democrat, and the panel’s top Republican, Kay Granger, will attend the meeting with Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Richard Shelby, a Republican, and the panel’s senior Democrat Patrick Leahy, according to congressional aides.

Trump’s December demand for $US5.7 billion to help construct a border wall triggered a 35-day partial government shutdown that ended last month without the President getting wall funding. Trump agreed to reopen the government for three weeks to allow congressional negotiators time to find a compromise on government funding for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends on September 30, to avert another shutdown on February 15.

The disagreement over border barriers and making detention facilities able to hold more immigrants to be deported are at the heart of the dispute between congressional Democrats and Trump, who has sought to crack down on illegal and legal immigration.


Campaign promise

Trump made a border wall one of his central campaign promises in 2016, saying it is needed to curb illegal immigration, drug trafficking and other crimes. Democrats, who assumed control of the House last month from Trump’s fellow Republicans, oppose a wall as ineffective, expensive and immoral.

A sticking point in the border security talks has been a Democratic demand for funding fewer detention beds. Democrats oppose the Trump administration expanding its capacity to hold more people arrested by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents for eventual deportation.

Democrats generally push for less use of detention, arguing it is much cheaper to release some immigrants but require restrictions on them such as wearing ankle bracelets that track their location. Republicans want to increase the number of beds in detention facilities to enable holding more people to speed up and expand deportations.


Trump has called the situation at the border a national security crisis and deployed an extra 3,750 US troops there this month.

California’s Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom, was poised to withdraw all 360 of his state’s National Guard troops from the border to counter Trump’s claim of a national security crisis, according to US media reports. Democratic-governed New Mexico made a similar move last week.


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