The Trump administration may seek to build its promised border wall past the U.S. border and encroach on Mexican land.
According to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke in remarks recorded by E&E (Energy & Environment) News, the new border wall could be built just past the Rio Grande River, which separates the United States from Mexico. In a Q&A session with ranchers holding grazing permits, Secretary Zinke candidly hinted that construction would be on Mexico’s side of the Rio Grande.
“The border is complicated, as far as building a physical wall,” Zinke said. “The Rio Grande, what side of the river are you going to put the wall? We’re not going to put it on our side and cede the river to Mexico. And we’re probably not going to put it in the middle of the river.”
The proposal to annex Mexican land for the wall would be a new development in U.S./Mexico border policy, as a 1970 treaty recognized the middle of the Rio Grande as the official line between the two countries. While Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has yet to officially comment on the proposal, it’s unlikely he would agree to the annexation of his country for Trump’s new border wall.
Zinke also told ranchers that in order to build the wall, endangered species protections for threatened jaguar species living in Northern Mexico would be loosened, as the wall would inhibit the jaguars’ ability to move freely. He also said that in some regions, an electric fence would be more appropriate than a wall, and that in certain mountainous areas, the terrain would be enough of a deterrent to make the building of a wall unnecessary.
In order to pay for the wall, President Trump proposed an additional $18 billion in cuts to the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Education. Republicans in Congress have said those cuts have little chance of passing through both chambers. While making Mexico pay for the wall was a major campaign promise, Trump seems to have abandoned that idea for the time being.
Jamie Green is a contributor for the Resistance Report covering the Trump administration, and lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.