President Donald Trump ordered the construction of the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to act on his campaign promise of stronger immigration enforcement.
The president signed executive orders to make federal funds available to build the wall during his Wednesday visit at the Department of Homeland Security.
Trump also ordered the hiring of 10,000 immigration officers and 5,000 Border Patrol agents. He ordered the end of a policy in which some people are picked up after crossing the border illegally, and then released.
The president also directed his secretary of Homeland Security to start the process of cutting federal money to cities that refuse to turn over undocumented immigrants. The cities have called themselves “sanctuary cities.”
He said countries will take “their criminals back," although he did not say how he would force them to do so. His order also calls for building more detention facilities for illegal immigrants.
‘Get the bad ones out’
“We are going to get the bad ones out -- the criminals, the drug dealers and gangs and gang members and cartel leaders,” Trump said. “The day is over when they can stay in our country and wreak havoc.”
From the day he first announced his candidacy for president in June 2015, Trump promised to enforce immigration laws and build a big wall along America’s southern border.
"I will build a great, great wall on our southern border,” he said in announcing his candidacy. “And I will have Mexico pay for that wall."
Cost estimates for the wall range from $10 billion to $20 billion.
In an interview with ABC News, Trump said planning for the wall will start immediately and construction can start in a matter of months. The U.S. will pick up the costs, he said. But Trump said Mexico will repay the United States for the cost of the wall.
“There will be a payment, it will be in a form, perhaps a complicated form," Trump told ABC. He said negotiations would begin soon.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has said Mexico will not pay for the wall. He plans to meet with Trump at the White House next week.
Trump said he will also take steps to stop people from bringing guns from the United States into Mexico. "We're going to save lives on both sides of the border,” he said.
Limiting entry from some countries
Trump is also expected to take action within days to limit who can enter the United States as refugees. He has been considering a four-month freeze on refugee admissions. And he wants to stop the entry of refugees from Muslim-majority countries for at least 30 days.
Groups that work with immigrant communities criticized the president’s enforcement plan.
Lynn Tramonte is deputy director of America’s Voice Education Fund. “There’s no way around it: Trump is declaring open season on immigrants, refugees, Latino families, and other people of color in America.”
Greg Chen is director of Advocacy for the American Immigration Lawyers Association. He said Trump’s plan could put an end or cause a big reduction in America’s role as a safe place for people threatened by violence and repression.
Bruce Alpert reported this story for Learning English with additional reporting from Ken Bredemeier. Hai Do was the editor.
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Words in This Story
sanctuary - adj. a place where someone or something is protected or given shelter
gang - n. a group of criminals
cartel - n. a group of illegal drug sellers
wreak havoc - idiom, meaning to cause a lot of trouble
complicated - adj. hard to understand or explain
role - n. a part that someone has in a particular activity or situation
open season - expression. a period when all restrictions on an activity or product are ignored