According to a congressional Democratic aide, the deal explicitly prohibits the use of this money on a concrete wall, and only authorizes funds for ‘existing technologies,’ like the current fencing along the southern border.
President Donald Trump prepares to sign a new government funding deal that ends the ongoing negotiations about border security spending, but Democrats have mostly kept their heads down. They want him to sign the deal, so they’re not gloating about it.
But the facts are clear: Not only did they win in any reasonable sense of the word, it looks like they totally outplayed Trump on his signature issue.
Most headlines about the deal have focused on the funding for border fencing. Trump had asked for $5.7 billion for barriers, and he’s getting $1.375 billion. Democrats had offered $0, so this looks at first glance like a compromise that somewhat favors the Democrats while still involving a significant concession on their part.
And yet, forcing Trump to back off from the concrete border wall that Trump promised during the campaign is already an achievement for Democrats. Vox’s Li Zhou explained that the bill prohibits this initial promise: “According to a congressional Democratic aide, the deal explicitly prohibits the use of this money on a concrete wall, and only authorizes funds for ‘existing technologies,’ like the current fencing along the southern border.”
Trump’s ask of $5.7 billion itself was a walk back, too. He once asked Democrats for $25 billion — but he sabotaged that deal, and that number now seems unthinkable.
And there’s a lot more to the bill than the barrier funding provision.
The bill also allows for more hires of customs agents and border patrol personnel, which Trump sees as a win. But it’s also unclear how much this will actually change the reality on the ground, because the border patrol has already been struggling to fill the vacanancies it has.
And even as Trump’s “wins” are pretty paltry, Democrats secured real achievements in the bill to mitigate some of the worst aspects of the administration’s immigration policy.
PBS Newshour documented how Democrats secured three major concessions: more alternatives to immigration detention, more help (legal and otherwise) from immigrant families who are detained, and a direct rebuke to some of the CBP’s worst practices.
Reporter Lisa Desjardins noted that it was “extraordinary” that the appropriations bill, for example, contained language calling for immigration detention facilities to maintain adequate temperatures — a clear denunciation of the reports that immigrantswere kept in freezing rooms — and that the facilities avoid the use of “chain-link type enclosures” — which refers to the infamous cages that children were shown to be kept in under Trump’s policies.