Washington: US President Donald Trump took a first step toward fulfilling his pledge to "build a wall" on the Mexican border on Wednesday, signing two immigration-related decrees.
Trump visited the Department of Homeland Security to approve an order to begin work to "build a large physical barrier on the southern border," according to the White House.
Trump also signed measures to "create more detention space for illegal immigrants along the southern border" according to White House spokesman Sean Spicer.
"We're going to once again prioritize the prosecution and deportation of illegal immigrants who have also otherwise violated our laws," he added.
Stemming immigration was a central plank of Trump's election campaign. His signature policy prescription was to build a wall across the 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) border between the United States and Mexico.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2017
Some of the border is already fenced, but Trump says a wall is needed to stop illegal immigrants entering from Latin America.
In 2014, there were an estimated 5.8 million unauthorized Mexican migrants in the United States, according to Pew, with fewer arriving each year before that.
Experts have voiced doubts about whether a wall would actually stem illegal immigration, or if it is worth the billions it is expected to cost.
But the policy has become a clarion call for the US right and far-right — the core of Trump's support.
Still, any action from the White House would be piecemeal, diverting only existing funds toward the project.
The Republican-controlled Congress would need to supply new money if the wall is to be anywhere near completed, and Trump's party has spent the last decade preaching fiscal prudence.
Furthermore, much of the land needed to build the wall is privately owned, implying lengthy legal proceedings, political blowback, and substantial expropriation payments.
A Morning Consult/Politico poll released today said 47 percent of voters support building a wall, with 45 percent against.
Trump again promised "100 percent" to make Mexico pay for the wall today, something the Mexican government has repeatedly said it will not do.
"Ultimately it will come out of what's happening with Mexico, we're going to be starting those negotiations relatively soon. And we will be, in a form, reimbursed by Mexico," he told ABC.
"All it is, is we will be reimbursed at a later date from whatever transaction we'll make from Mexico."
"I'm just telling you, there will be a payment, it will be in a form, perhaps a complicated form."
"What I'm doing is good for the United States, it's also going to be good for Mexico. We want to have a very stable, very solid Mexico".
Updated Date: Jan 26, 2017 07:38:40 IST