WASHINGTON – Some people who tuned in to watch President Donald Trump’s proposal on Saturday to end the 28-day government shutdown took issue with one particular line of the 13-minute address.
The president proposed a compromise: the $5.7 billion to build a wall along the southern border for temporary protections for undocumented immigrants, including children. He called the proposal “a common-sense compromise both parties can embrace.”
“To physically secure our border, the plan includes $5.7 billion for a strategic deployment of physical barriers, or a wall,” Trump said. “This is not a 2,000-mile concrete structure from sea to sea. These are steel barriers in high-priority locations.”
Those at home took notice that Trump seemed to downplay the scope of his wall plan, which he has boasted about during campaign rallies. Many also noted the very public way Trump noted that the wall would not be made of concrete as he had said and wouldn’t extend the full length of the border.
“Not sea to sea, not paid for by Mexico, only steel slats. #Trump is walking back more than Michael Jackson,” one Twitter user said after the speech.
Another chimed in, saying the president “finally acknowledged that the wall will not be from sea to sea or 1954 miles, because it is would be physically impossible given the terrain. The right will not be happy.”
Trump’s proposal also drew criticism from some hard-line conservatives, who argued it would encourage more illegal immigration.
“A Big Beautiful Concrete Border Wall will be a monument to the Rule of Law, the sovereignty of the USA, & @RealDonaldTrump,” Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, wrote on Twitter. “If DACA Amnesty is traded for $5.7 billion(1/5 of a wall), wouldn’t be enough illegals left in America to trade for the remaining 4/5. NO AMNESTY 4 a wall!”
Conservative commentator Ann Coulter accused Trump of proposing “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants.
“100 miles of border wall in exchange for amnestying millions of illegals,” she tweeted. “So if we grant citizenship to a BILLION foreigners, maybe we can finally get a full border wall.”
While the president’s comments have changed significantly when it comes to what the wall will be made of and how much it will cost, Trump and his Cabinet have said multiple times that a wall would not stretch the entire length of the U.S.-Mexico border, which extends about 1,933 miles.
The New York Times, which tracked Trump’s “evolving” remarks on his proposed border wall, noted that as far back as 2015, the president called for a wall extending about half the length of the border.
“As far as the wall is concerned, we’re going to build a wall. We’re going to create a border. We’re going to let people in, but they’re going to come in legally. They’re going to come in legally,” Trump said at a presidential debate in 2015, according to The Times. “And it’s something that can be done, and I get questioned about that. They built the Great Wall of China. That’s 13,000 miles. Here, we actually need 1,000 because we have natural barriers. So we need 1,000.”
Already, 34 percent of the border has a wall or fence, about 654 miles. But other areas of the border without fencing would be difficult to enclose because of the Rio Grande and private property, which the government would have to seize, setting up years of legal challenges.
Contributing: Michael Collins