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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Trump Team Moves On Borders.



Exclusive: Trump team seeks agency

 records on border barriers, surveillance


By Julia Edwards Ainsley | WASHINGTON
In a wide-ranging request for documents and analysis, President-elect Donald 
Trump's transition team asked the Department of Homeland Security last month 
to assess all assets available for border wall and barrier construction.
The team also asked about the department's capacity for expanding immigrant
 detention and about an aerial surveillance program that was scaled back by the
Obama administration but remains popular with immigration hardliners. And it
asked whether federal workers have altered biographic information kept by the
department about immigrants out of concern for their civil liberties.
The requests were made in a Dec. 5 meeting between Trump's transition team
 and Department of Homeland Security officials, according to an internal agency
 memo reviewed by Reuters. The document offers a glimpse into the president-
elect's strategy for securing the U.S. borders and reversing polices put in place
by the Obama administration. 
Trump's transition team did not comment in response to Reuters inquiries. A
spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and
Border Protection declined to comment. 
    In response to the transition team request, U.S. Customs and Border Protection
staffers identified more than 400 miles along the U.S.-Mexico border, and about
 the same distance along the U.S.-Canada border, where new fencing could be
erected, according to a document seen by Reuters.
    Reuters could not determine whether the Trump team is considering a northern
 border barrier. During the campaign, Trump pledged to build a wall and expand
 fencing on parts of the U.S.-Mexico border but said he sees no need to build a
 wall on the border with Canada.
One program the transition team asked about, according to the email summary,
was Operation Phalanx, an aerial surveillance program that authorizes 1,200
Army National Guard airmen to monitor the southern border for drug trafficking
and illegal migration.
The program once deployed 6,000 airmen under President George W. Bush but
was downsized by Barack Obama, a move blasted by some conservatives who
argue the surveillance is vital to border security.
    
POLICY SHIFT
The transition team also asked for copies of every executive order and directive
sent to immigration agents since Obama took office in 2009, according to the
 memo summarizing the meeting.
    Trump has said he intends to undo Obama's executive actions on immigration,
 including a 2012 order to allow children brought to the U.S. illegally by their
 parents to remain in the country on temporary authorizations that allow them to
 attend college and work.
The program, known as DACA, collected information including participants'
 addresses that could theoretically be used to locate and deport them if the policy
 is reversed. Another request of the transition team was for information about
whether any migrant records have been changed for any reason, including for
civil rights or civil liberties concerns, according to the internal memo seen by
 Reuters.
    A Department of Homeland Security official, speaking on condition of
anonymity, said the agency interpreted the request to mean the transition team
 wanted to make sure that federal workers were not tampering with information
to protect DACA recipients and other migrants from deportation.
On the campaign trail, Trump vowed to deport more undocumented immigrants,
 a promise that may have prompted the transition team's request for information
about the feasibility of expanding temporary detention facilities.
    The internal memo summarizing the meeting between
Trump's transition team and U.S. Customs and Border
protection said the team had requested a comprehensive
picture of border security as well as resources available
 for walls and barriers.
The Department of Homeland Security official said agency
 representatives who attended the meeting believed the
request to include both the northern and southern borders.

ng along the northern border fence would be $3.3 billion and cover 452 miles
 along border of Canada and the states of Washington, Idaho, Montana, New
 York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
   Adding 413 miles of fencing on the southwest border would be more
expensive, according to the estimate of $11.37 billion, because it would be
aimed at keeping pedestrians as well as vehicles from crossing.
Pedestrian fences require more staff and would cost $11.2 million per mile
versus $4.1 million per mile to build to build, according to the report.
In fiscal year 2015, the latest year for which data is available, border patrol
agents apprehended 2,626 illegal migrants on the U.S.-Canada border
compared to 331,333 apprehended on the U.S.-Mexico border.

(Reporting by Julia Edwards Ainsley; Editing by Sue Horton and Brian Thevenot)