According to a Washington Post report, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly explicitly told Democratic lawmakers what the rest of us already suspected: President Trump was “uninformed” when it came to campaign promises he made regarding immigration reform. Chief among them was the promise that the United States was going to build a wall along the entire Southern border and that Mexico would foot the bill.
The meeting occurred on Wednesday between the chief of staff, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Asian Congressional Caucus Chair Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), nd House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-MA). It was held, in part, to address the lawmakers’ concerns over the looming March DACA deadline. Last week, Trump televised a bipartisan meeting where he seemed amenable to signing a bill focused solely on preventing unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the country as children from being deported. But fellow Republicans swooped in and reminded him that an immigration reform bill should also entail heightened border security, preferably in the form of a wall. As Kelly reportedly told the Democrats, a physical wall constructed along every inch of the country’s border isn’t physically tenable. Furthermore, sources who witnessed the meeting said that Kelly admitted that Mexico won’t be bank rolling the project. From WaPo:
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), the original sponsor of the Dream Act that would permanently legalize at least 690,000 dreamers, asked Kelly to clarify Trump’s definition of a border wall.
“Certain things are said during the campaign that are uninformed,” Kelly said.
“One thing is to campaign, another thing is to govern. It’s really hard,” he added later.
“A concrete wall from sea to shining sea” is not going to happen, Kelly said. Instead, “a physical barrier in many places” is what the administration is requesting. Kelly used the term “physical barrier” several times during the meeting, attendees said.
“Concrete wall is not a realistic solution in many places,” Kelly said — noting that topography, among other issues, makes building a physical wall difficult along certain parts of the more than 2,100 miles between the United States and Mexico.
Kelly also said that there will be no wall “that Mexico will pay for.”
After serving as homeland security secretary and commander of U.S. military forces in Latin America, Kelly told lawmakers that he has helped Trump “evolve on issues of the wall.”
It became clear last summer that President Trump’s proposed wall isn’t feasible when he told reporters that the wall he had in mind was somehow solar-powered and transparent in certain places, so that Americans could dodge the “large sacks of drugs” what would invariably get catapulted over the barrier.
In an effort to further reassure the legislators, Kelly took credit for softening the president’s stance on DACA, a program he campaigned against.
“I worked to get the six-month extension of DACA,” Kelly said, according to sources present at the meeting. “I ordered that. I managed that. And everyone has thanked me for that.”
The government is expected to shut down this weekend if Democrats and Republicans can’t come to an agreement on whether spending legislation includes protection for DACA recipients.