Leak shows Trump wants billions for wall, agents

By Alicia Caldwell

A truck drives near the Mexico-US border fence, on the Mexican side, separating the towns of Anapra, Mexico and Sunland Park, New Mexico. Photo / AP file
A truck drives near the Mexico-US border fence, on the Mexican side, separating the towns of Anapra, Mexico and Sunland Park, New Mexico. Photo / AP file

US President Donald Trump wants billions of dollars to start building a wall at the Mexican border and fund efforts to find, jail and deport immigrants in the country illegally, according to White House budget documents AP obtained today.

The Office and Management and Budget's financial outline for the Department of Homeland Security also calls on the Coast Guard to scrap the agency's counterterrorism Maritime Security Response Team, and all of its Maritime Safety and Security Teams.

The rationale for the elimination of the programmes isn't spelled out. Trump has made fighting terrorism a top priority and his overall budget outline calls for significant increases in military spending.

The Homeland Security budget outline includes money to start hiring new immigration and border agents.

It largely adheres to Trump's promises to bolster security at the Mexican border and crack down on illegal immigration in the United States.

The Department of Homeland Security declined to comment on the documents, which are labelled "pre-decisional" and "not for public release," referring questions to the White House. The White House didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Trump's overall budget blueprint seeks a US$54 billion surge in US military spending for new aircraft, ships and fighters.

It also slashes big chunks from domestic programmes and foreign aid to make the government "do more with less".

Trump's first budget is due in more detail to Congress next month.

"Topline" figures were released yesterday.

If Congress ultimately approves Trump's budget plans, Homeland Security would see an overall budget increase of about US$2.7 billion to roughly US$44 billion.

That would include nearly US$2 billion more for Immigration and Customs Enforcement's efforts in locating, arresting and deporting immigrants in the country illegally. Under President Barack Obama's last budget, the government had about US$3 billion for that task. That included money to jail 34,000 people at any given time.

Obama's immigration authorities deported about 240,000 people during the 2016 budget year that ended in September. Trump has said he intends to increase deportations.

Though the Coast Guard became part of the civilian Homeland Security Department after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the agency is treated as a branch of the military.

According to the Coast Guard's government website, the Maritime Security Response Team is a "highly specialised resource with advanced counterterrorism skills and tactics."

Scrapping the team, the budget documents show, would save the government about US$43 million.

The budget documents also call for cancelling a roughly US$500 million new ship, described as "unplanned and unwanted". According to the Coast Guard website, the ship is under production.

The budget documents do not show how the savings from the Coast Guard cuts would be spent.

- AP

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