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President Trump is determined to speed up construction on the southern border wall to deliver on his 2016 campaign promise ahead of the 2020 election, reports the Washington Post.
The state of play: Trump has "directed aides to fast-track billions of dollars' worth of construction contracts, aggressively seize private land and disregard environmental rules," current and former administration officials told the Post. The president has previously promised to complete 500 miles of fence before the election, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has only completed 60 miles of "replacement" barrier so far.
- Trump allegedly joked to aides, telling them to approve orders and move forward with the wall even if the directives were illegal or unworkable. He reportedly suggested that he would pardon them later, found the Post.
The big picture: Trump also acknowledged that building the wall isn't the most "effective" option to deter illegal immigration, but he continues to insist on bringing the border wall to fruition because his supporters want it, writes the Post.
- Recently, Trump supporters have erupted in "Finish the Wall!" chants at his re-election campaign rallies.
Yes, but: Trump's persistence that the border wall be painted black is also delaying the process and driving costs up, says the Washington Post. The dark coating is meant to make the wall too hot and slippery to climb. However, painting a single mile of the wall in California cost $1 million.
What's next: Defense Secretary Mark Esper is expected to redirect $3.6 billion in Pentagon funds to build the border wall.
- Trump has been looking for ways to fund the project after Congress refused to give him $5 billion for it, per the Washington Post.