Jason Hopkins on November 26, 2019
The president reportedly tapped his son-in-law Jared Kushner to lead the administration’s effort to complete hundreds of miles of border wall before the end of 2020.
President Donald Trump, frustrated over a lack of progress, tapped Kushner, a White House senior adviser, to expedite work on the U.S.-Mexico border wall ahead of the 2020 election, The Washington Post reported Monday, citing current and former administration officials. The major task adds to the list of Kushner’s other big-ticket items, such as securing a Middle East peace deal and shifting the U.S. immigration system to a more merit-based system.
Kushner — who told White House officials that Trump picked him to lead the border wall project — is holding biweekly meetings in the West Wing, according to administration officials who spoke to the Post. Executive-level White House gatherings about the wall, which used to be less formal, now require attendance from Cabinet-level officials.
During these meetings, Kushner reportedly asks those in attendance specific questions about construction progress, including where and how money is being spent. The president’s son-in-law is also demanding officials devise a new plan for construction work and provide a timetable for specific targets.
Critics argue he lacks an understanding of the government limitations that have lagged construction projects thus far, but Kushner allies say he is bringing a “private sector approach” to the administration’s efforts, according to the report.
“The point is to get as much built in the next year or so, so the president can say in the face of intense, almost demented opposition he has made reasonable progress,” Mark Krikorian, the president of Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that advocates for less immigration, said of the new push to complete more barriers.
Completion of a massive border wall between the U.S. and Mexico was Trump’s most lauded campaign promise during the 2016 election. Since entering office, however, a combination of funding limitations, a string of lawsuits, private property disputes and government red tape has kept his administration from moving quickly on construction projects.
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It was reported earlier in November that the administration is preparing to submit court filings to take over private land around the border in Texas, where most of the borderland is privately owned. Kushner, for his part, has reportedly taken an aggressive view of the government’s authority on eminent domain.
So far, the White House has completed about 83 miles of new wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, but most of these sections have been the replacement of old, dilapidated walls with newer ones. Kushner is aiming to complete at least 400 miles by November 2020, according to aides.
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