Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) on Thursday introduced legislation that would fully fund the $25 billion President Trump is seeking to erect new and replacement wall and barrier structures along the U.S. southern border with Mexico.
To offset the $25 billion in proposed funding, Inhofe’s WALL Act would increase minimum fines levied on illegal border crossers, require work-eligible Social Security Numbers to claim refundable tax credits and require welfare recipients to verify citizenship.
“As a former builder and developer in south Texas, I know border security is national security and we need to do more to deter the growing numbers of unauthorized immigrants coming across our borders,” Inhofe said in a statement. “That’s why I’ve outlined specific ways to fund the border wall by assessing penalties on illegal immigration and closing loopholes that allow unauthorized immigrants to receive federal benefits.”
A spokeswoman for Inhofe told Defense Daily that the senator doesn’t have any co-sponsors “to announce at this time,” but “he is discussing it with his colleagues.”
The Department of Homeland Security requested $1.6 billion in fiscal year 2019 for physical barriers and related infrastructure covering 65 miles of pedestrian fencing in the Rio Grande Valley Sector in Texas. Senate appropriators agreed to the request.
In a separate markup, House appropriators recommended $5 billion for more than 200 miles of new physical barrier construction. To help offset the proposed border security funding, the House Appropriators made cuts elsewhere, including zeroing more than $700 million for a new heavy polar icebreaker for the Coast Guard.
During the Bush and Obama administrations, DHS erected nearly 700 miles of vehicle and pedestrian fencing and barriers along portions of the southern border. Trump would like to see nearly 2,000 miles of barriers built along the border.
The DHS spending bill still hasn’t been approved by Congress and the department is operating under a continuing resolution until early December.