The Trump administration has told lawmakers that it wants $ 18 billion over the next decade for the initial phase of a border fence in Mexico, presenting for the first time a detailed financial plan for the campaign promise of the signature of the president.  The money would pay for 316 miles of new fences and reinforce another 407 miles where barriers already exist, according to cost estimates sent to senators on Friday by US Customs and Border Protection. UU If the work were completed, more than half of the 2,000-mile border with Mexico would have a wall or other physical structure by 2027.
Democratic lawmakers criticized the $ 18 billion request, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, and came amid delicate budget negotiations that include the risk of a government shutdown on January 20 if an agreement is not reached.
"President Trump has said he may need a good government shutdown to get his wall, and with this demand, it seems to be going in that direction," said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the highest ranking Democrat in the Senate Immigration subcommittee.
CBP provided the funding draft at the request of Durbin and other senators preparing to begin negotiations this month on several contentious immigration issues, including a possible agreement to protect the hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who will be subject to deportation when it is deferred The Action for Children program (DACA) expires, starting in March.
With their votes needed to keep the government open, the Democrats seek to use their influence in the talks to force the Republicans who control Congress to reach an agreement on DACA.
Although Trump ran for office with the promise that Mexico would pay for a border wall, the spending plan indicates that US taxpayers would finance it for at least the foreseeable future.
Trump has told the Democrats that he is not willing to reach an agreement unless they fund his wall plan, among other measures, but the document of CBP is the first time that his administration drafts that could cost.
In addition to the $ 18 billion in wall funds, CBP also requested $ 8 billion for additional staff and training, $ 5 billion for new border technology and at least $ 1 billion to build more roadways for access. The final price of the CBP spending plan would exceed $ 33 billion over the next decade, according to a copy of the document obtained by The Washington Post.
The $ 33 billion would not include what are likely to be additional funding requests for the other agencies of the Department of Homeland Security central to Trump's plans for an immigration review, including the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (ICE) ), which seeks to add 10,000 more officers and dramatically expand the number of beds available for immigration detention.
Benjamin L. Cassidy, undersecretary of legislative affairs at DHS, said in a letter to Durbin that the requests for funds "were developed through rigorous evaluation and are derived directly from the experience and knowledge of the agents of the Border Patrol in the field, supported by operational data and analysis. "
" It is essential to bear in mind that this presentation represents only one element of the President's overall image, "Cassidy wrote. "Effective border security will not succeed unless we close the dangerous legal loopholes that allow illegal immigration and the excess of visas.If these gaps do not close, and enforcement capacities are not improved, our immigration system and the border they can not be assured. "
Democrats have repeatedly said they will not pay for a wall. Although year after year the CBP request would not represent a dramatic increase in funds relative to current levels of border spending, it would represent a long-term commitment with a physical structure that Trump could claim as a political trophy.
Democrats and immigration activists have shied away from other government enforcement plans, including proposals to accelerate the deportation of unaccompanied minors, toughen asylum standards and crack down on so-called "sanctuary cities" that do not allow local police to cooperate with federal immigration agents.
"Trump may have a close fight over his stupid wall that pleases the nativists at his base, or he may have an advance that combines the Dream Act and border security so he can boast of having done something that Obama could not" . Not done. He can not have both, "said Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice, an immigrant advocacy group." This White House movement is not a good omen. "
The Republican reaction was silenced On Friday, even many Republicans have considered a physical wall along the entire border to be unnecessary and impractical, and claim that more effective border security could be achieved by other means, including better surveillance and technology.
CBP He said he would like to add more than 2,000 miles of what he called a "total border wall system" that would eventually encompass 864 miles of new primary wall on land where there is currently no barrier, adding 1,163 miles of replacement wall or secondary wall, that DHS officials said it could consist of a wall backed by a fence or two fences.
Some of the new barriers would have to be installed along the walls. banks of the Rio Grande, where landowners have protested the construction of new fences on their ranches and farms.
The $ 18 billion would cover only the initial phase of the CBP plan. Approximately 650 miles of the border with Mexico currently have some type of physical obstacle, from vehicle barriers to higher steel fences designed to prevent people from getting on.
CBP is evaluating several prototypes, all of which are significantly higher, but funding the request sent to the senators does not specify what type of barrier would be used.
Trump has said he can travel to San Diego to inspect the prototypes, which vary in height from 18 to 30 feet and combine different formulations of transparent steel. bars, concrete slabs and metal dowels.
Ed O & # 39; Keefe contributed to this report.