WASHINGTON — The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs Friday scheduled the first hearing next Wednesday to examine efforts to secure the southern border through the construction of a barrier wall.
According to the committee, members will report their findings back to the “administration and Department of Homeland Security with lessons learned from previous fence deployment efforts.”
Witnesses expected to testify Wednesday before the committee chaired by Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson and Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill are David Aguilar, former acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Ronald Colburn former Deputy Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol at U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and Seth Stodder, former Assistant Secretary for Border, Immigration and Trade Policy at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
President Donald Trump made building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico southern border a priority during his campaign and into his first few days in office, promising that Mexico would pay for the wall.
Mexico has continually rebuffed the idea of paying for the border and the debate came to a head Thursday when a scheduled meeting for between Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto and Trump was abruptly canceled. Ultimately, the two leaders spoke by phone on Friday morning.
According to a joint statement from the White House Friday following the one hour phone call, “The two had a productive and constructive call regarding the bilateral relationship between the two countries, the current trade deficit the United States has with Mexico, the importance of the friendship between the two nations, and the need for the two nations to work together to stop drug cartels, drug trafficking and illegal guns and arms sales.”
The statement went on to say, “With respect to payment for the border wall, both presidents recognize their clear and very public differences of positions on this issue but have agreed to work these differences out as part of a comprehensive discussion on all aspects of the bilateral relationship.”
The statement added, “Both presidents have instructed their teams to continue the dialogue to strengthen this important strategic and economic relationship in a constructive way.”