President-elect Donald Trump reaffirmed in a press conference that the border wall will be built and that Mexico will eventually pay for it somehow.
He made the statement Wednesday during his first press conference since the election. However, those who live on the border feel that the president-elect’s proposal may not solve the real problems.
“I want to get the wall started. I don’t want to wait a year and a half until I make my deal with Mexico,” Trump said.
He suggested that his signature campaign proposal to build a multi-billion dollar wall will begin soon after he takes office; a wall that would go up next to the existing border fence that’s already in place along some stretches of the border.
The president-Elect can expect to be met with some resistance to the plan from lawmakers and locals in South Texas.
“With all due respect to the president, we elect a president, not a king,” U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX 28) said.
Congressman Cuellar represents a large portion of South Texas, including Laredo and many other border communities. He revealed that plans for the large, multi-billion dollar wall are already underway.
“I can tell you that one Border Patrol chief said: ‘No, we don’t need a fence here, a wall here’ and [the Trump transition team] said: ‘Nope, go back again. Try again. You have to come up with something.’ So the transition team is telling [Border Patrol] headquarters: ‘Start thinking about walls,’” Congressman Cuellar recalled.
About an hour and a half north of the border sits Brooks County. Its sheriff, Benny Martinez, expressed concerns that the border wall would be over-prioritized and suggested that the federal government needs to set its sights on more agents and better technology instead.
"We all need border security, that's a no-brainer,” Sheriff Martinez said. “I totally agree with that, but my issue is that once you put a blanket over everything, then that becomes an issue.”
Martinez oversees one of the busiest human trafficking corridors in the country. Last year alone, more than 60 undocumented immigrants died trying to cross the arid ranchlands in Brooks County.
“The only way you will stop it completely is if you reach some type of immigration reform where both governments are in agreement," Sheriff Martinez noted.
That could arguably be Trump’s greatest challenge on the issue.
“In order to get the wall started, Mexico will pay for the wall, but it will get reimbursed,” Trump said during Wednesday’s press conference.
Mexico has repeatedly said it would never pay for the wall.
Former Mexican president Vicente Fox weighed in on Twitter saying:
Do not be afraid of Trump, he’s a bully and a bluff, bullies end when they’re called out. America, stand out before it’s too late!!— Vicente Fox Quesada (@VicenteFoxQue) January 11, 2017
Sheriff Martinez says that he's shared his concerns and views with elected officials in Washington, hoping that Trump and the new Congress take into consideration the opinion of those on the ground dealing with border security first hand.