The Wall: A conversation with Rep. Henry Cuellar and Brookings expert Vanda Felbab-Brown

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President Trump has rarely been at a loss for words when it comes to immigration policy. On the campaign trail and through his first year in office, his calls for a crackdown on undocumented immigration, for increased border security, and for the construction of a border wall have been among his most iconic policy positions.
This week, tensions around immigration are high as Congress and the White House try to negotiate a deal to fund the border security, and also to allow permanent legal status to hundreds of thousands of “Dreamers,” immigrants who came to the United States as children and who were protected by the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).
Significant questions remain about how much an actual border wall would cost and what affect it would have on the people and environment along the border. In “The Wall: The real costs of a barrier between the U.S. and Mexico,” a Brookings Essay published in August 2017, Foreign Policy Senior Fellow Vanda Felbab-Brown analyzed these questions and more, and explained the impacts, if any, a border wall would have on crime, drug trafficking, and the U.S. economy.
To discuss the findings of her essay and to better understand the real costs of a border wall, Brookings hosted a discussion between Felbab-Brown, Representative Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), and Maria Peña, correspondent for La Opinión-Impremedia. Below are a few highlights of their conversation.
How funding for the government is tied to funding for the wall and the legal protections for Dreamers
The current continuing resolution (CR) funding the federal government is set to expire on January 19. Congress will have to pass a new spending bill before then or face a partial government shutdown. Republicans, with their Senate majority, will need the support of at least nine Democrats to pass a new CR, but many Democrats have signaled that they …

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