The Slatest

Sorry, Haters, but Trump’s Interior Secretary Did Not Actually Say the Border Wall Would Be Built on Mexican Soil

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The Rio Grande at the U.S.-Mexico border near McAllen, Texas, in a March 16 photo.

John Moore/Getty Images

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The Daily Caller ran an item this morning stating that Trump administration Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has called for Donald Trump’s famed border wall to be built on Mexican soil:

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Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke proposed Tuesday that the U.S. build its border wall on Mexico’s side of the border.

“The border is complicated, as far as building a physical wall,” Zinke said at an event held by the Public Lands Council, according to E&E News. He went on to say, “The Rio Grande, what side of the river are you going to put the wall? We’re not going to put it on our side and cede the river to Mexico. And we’re probably not going to put it in the middle of the river.”

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A Chuck Schumer spokesman is also promoting this claim:

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Sounds outrageous! But if you actually go to the source of all this—a longer article in a respected energy/environment industry publication—it’s clear that not only was Zinke not suggesting that the wall be built in Mexico but that he was in fact describing reasons why it might not be built like Trump has described it at all:

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At the same time, Zinke suggested the wall would not be as big or impassible as the president believes is necessary to stop illegal immigrants.

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“The border is complicated, as far as building a physical wall,” he said. “The Rio Grande, what side of the river are you going to put the wall? We’re not going to put it on our side and cede the river to Mexico. And we’re probably not going to put it in the middle of the river.”

Electronic defenses may be more appropriate in some areas, Zinke said. Others with imposing physical features may not require additional reinforcements.

If anything, the story here might be that Zinke seems to be admitting that the president’s executive order announcing its intention to build the wall is impractical. From the order:

(b)  “Southern border” shall mean the contiguous land border between the United States and Mexico, including all points of entry.

And:

(e)  “Wall” shall mean a contiguous, physical wall or other similarly secure, contiguous, and impassable physical barrier.

This seems to be the kind of story that will occasion a clarification or walkback from the administration, so we’ll update this post when we hear more.

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