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Trump disagrees with chief of staff: No change in position on Mexico wall

US President Donald Trump says border wall ‘will be paid for, directly or indirectly, or through longer term reimbursement, by Mexico’.

world Updated: Jan 18, 2018 22:38 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Donald Trump,US President,Trump wall
President Donald Trump sits at his desk after a meeting with Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, left, and members of his staff in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)(AP)

Donald Trump on Thursday doubled down on his promise of a wall at the border with Mexico, publicly disagreeing with his chief of staff John Kelly, who had said that the US president had been “uninformed” of the issue as a candidate for the top job.

“The Wall is the Wall, it has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it,” Trump tweeted.

Reportedly annoyed by being undercut by Kelly, Trump said there is no immigration deal — referring to the status of Dreamers — without the wall, claiming that Mexico is now “the number one most dangerous country in the world”.

The day before, Kelly had told lawmakers that as a candidate, Trump had been “uninformed” about the feasibility of a wall and other immigration issues, and his position had since evolved.

According to lawmakers present at the meeting, Kelly had said: “Certain things are said during the campaign that are uninformed, ” adding that a “concrete wall from sea to shining sea” is not going to happen. He had also said that the administration was aware that Mexico would never pay for such a wall.

Luis V Gutierrez, a Democrat who attended the meeting, said: “I can confirm that chief of staff Kelly said today that the president’s campaign was not fully informed about the wall he was promising to voters.

“Kelly went on to say that many campaigns are not fully informed about every policy and that campaigning and governing are two different things and that governing is harder.

“Kelly took credit for educating the president on the wall and that a concrete barrier from sea to shining sea was no longer the conception of border security barriers supported today by the White House.”

Trump, in his Thursday tweet, did not dispute that Mexico was unlikely to pay for the wall. “The Wall will be paid for, directly or indirectly, or through longer term reimbursement, by Mexico,” he tweeted.

He also did not dispute Kelly’s assessment that Trump had evolved on DACA — Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals. As a candidate, he had opposed the Obama-era regulation that prevented the deportation of an estimated 700,000 undocumented immigrants brought as children.

Lawmakers are currently negotiating a legislation to reinstate that protection. Trump is hacking it, but in return has sought progress on his chief immigrations promises — of boosting border security, and ending family-based migration and diversity visa lottery programmes.

First Published: Jan 18, 2018 17:45 IST