US border deal reached to avert new shutdown

Washington, Tuesday

Democrats and Republicans have reached an agreement in principle over border security to fund the US government and avert another partial shutdown.

The agreement contains only a fraction of the money President Donald Trump wants for his promised border wall and does not mention a concrete barrier.

Deal still needs to be approved by Congress and signed by the president. Speaking later, Trump did not say whether he would back it. “We’re building the wall anyway.”

The Democrats—who now control the House of Representatives—have refused to approve the $5.7bn (Sh572 billion) for Trump’s wall on the border with Mexico, one of his key campaign pledges.

Lawmakers expressed optimism that a bill would be approved by Friday when funding runs out for some federal agencies. The previous shutdown —the longest in US history —lasted 35 days.

A barrier would be built in the Rio Grande Valley, in Texas, using existing designs, such as metal slats, instead of the concrete wall that Trump had demanded.

There was also an agreement to reduce the number of beds in detention centres to 40,250 from the current 49,057, reports say.

The talks had reached an impasse earlier with Republicans strongly rejecting Democrats’ demands for a limit to the number of undocumented migrants already in the US who could be detained by immigration authorities. The deal was struck in a closed-door meeting in Washington on Monday evening after several hours of talks.

“We got an agreement on all of it,” Republican Senator Richard Shelby said. “Our staff are going to be working feverishly to put all the particulars together. We believe that if this becomes law, it’ll keep open the government.”       -BBC

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