NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — President Trump promised attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington today that construction of a wall along the southern border is “way, way, way ahead of schedule” and building would “start very soon.”
Federal agencies are wrangling over how many miles of the border a new barrier would cover, and what would be the composition of a fence or wall.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told Congress earlier this month that law enforcement on the border are telling him they’d rather have a border barrier they can see through. “We’re not going to be able to build a wall everywhere all at once,” Kelly said, adding his department was gathering feedback on the most “strategic” places to build a wall or fence.
Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with leaders in Mexico this week. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has emphasized his country will not pay for a wall.
“We’ve defended other nations’ borders while leaving ours wide open, anybody can come in. We’re going to build a wall, don’t worry about it. We’re building the wall. We’re building the wall. In fact, it’s going to start soon. Way ahead of schedule, way ahead of schedule,” Trump said today. “Way, way, way ahead of schedule. It’s going to start very soon. General Kelly, by the way, has done a fantastic job. Fantastic job he’s done.”
“And remember, we are getting the bad ones out. These are bad dudes. We’re getting the bad ones out, OK? We’re getting the bad — if you watch these people, it’s like gee, that’s so sad. We’re getting bad people out of this country, people that shouldn’t be whether it’s drugs or murder or other things. We’re getting bad ones out, those are the ones that go first and I said it from day one. Basically all I’ve done is keep my promise,” he added.
Trump declared he “did more than any other pre-president, they say ‘president-elect'” because “jobs are already starting to pour back into our country.”
“It’s time for all Americans to get off of welfare and get back to work, you’re going to love it, you’re going to love it, you’re going to love it,” he said.
“And we will be substantially upgrading all of our military, all of our military, offensive, defensive, everything, bigger and better and stronger than ever before. And hopefully, we’ll never have to use it, but nobody’s gonna mess with us, folks, nobody,” he added. “It will be one of the greatest military build-ups in American history. No one will dare question as they have been because we’re very depleted, very, very depleted. Sequester. Sequester. Nobody will dare question our military might again. We believe in peace through strength and that’s what we will have.”
Trump promised that a do-over of his executive order suspending refugee admissions and barring travel from seven Muslim-majority nations, which was halted in federal court, will be coming in “a matter of days.”
“If it means I get bad press, if it means people speak badly of me, it’s OK, doesn’t bother me,” he said. “The security of our people is number one, is number one.”
On his cabinet, Trump said, “I still have people out there waiting to be approved and everyone knows they’re gonna be approved.”
“It’s just a delay, delay, delay, it’s really sad, it’s really sad. And these are great people, these are some great people. We still don’t have our cabinet. I assume we’re setting records for that. That’s the only thing good about it is we’re setting records. I love setting records. But I hate having a cabinet meeting and I see all these empty seats. I said, Democrats, please approve our cabinet and get smart on healthcare, too, if you don’t mind.”
Trump took another stab at Hillary Clinton describing some of his supporters as “deplorable” during the campaign.
“Who would have thought that a word was gonna play so badly?” he said. “That’s the problem in politics. One wrong word and it’s over. She also said ‘irredeemable,’ but we won’t mention that.”