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Mike Pence won’t commit to wall spanning entire US-Mexico border

Jeremy B White

Mike Pence has sidestepped questions about the ideal shape of Donald Trump’s proposed border wall.

During an interview that took place near America’s border with Mexico, the Vice President was repeatedly asked about what type of barrier should be constructed. He deferred to Mr Trump, saying the priority was securing as-yet-lacking financial backing.

“President Trump will make the final decision about the structure of the wall, but the first step is that Congress has to fund it,” Mr Pence told interviewer Ainsley Earhardt.

When Ms Earhardt noted that “we don’t have a wall all the way across the border” and asked Mr Pence to confirm that “you would like that to happen,” Mr Pence was noncommittal.

“President Trump made a commitment to the American people that we’re going to build a wall,” Mr Pence said. “That means we’re going to have a physical barrier on our southern border”.

Mr Trump has repeatedly said that a wall would only need to span about half the border, with natural obstacles like rivers accounting for the rest. Experts — including members of his own administration — have called building a wall the entire border unfeasible given the cost, legal hurdles and rough physical terrain.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said during her confirmation hearing that a wall from “sea to shining sea” was not needed, and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly reportedly told members of Congress Mr Trump was not “fully informed” when he issued campaign pledges that included vowing Mexico would pay for the structure.

Mr Trump responded to the report of Mr Kelly’s statement by saying that his conception of the wall “never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it” and suggesting the barrier would not, in fact, span the entire border.

“Parts will be, of necessity, see through and it was never intended to be built in areas where there is natural protection such as mountains, wastelands or tough rivers or water,” Mr Trump said.

The Trump administration’s push for wall funding is bound up with a larger debate about immigration. With the White House taking a hard line, the Senate last week voted down multiple proposals that would have allocated billions for border security while carving out a path to citizenship to a population of young immigrants, known as Dreamers, who had qualified for a since-lapsed deportation relief initiative.