Kris Kobach wants to see Donald Trump’s long promised wall along the Mexican border become a reality, even if U.S. taxpayers have to pay the multibillion-dollar bill.
It has to be a physical wall. On that Kobach and Trump both have agreed. But the Kansas secretary of state broke away slightly from the GOP nominee this week when he told reporters he was open to having the United States pay for Trump’s wall. The Republican nominee for president has frequently said that Mexico should be the one to pay for it.
“We, the United States, generally have been looking at the cost for a physical barrier, an actual physical wall, on the southern border for a long time,” Kobach said. “Compared to the larger Department of Homeland Security budget, it would be a drop in the bucket. I mean, the budget is huge.”
Kobach estimated the wall could cost around $15 billion. The department’s latest budget brief details $40.6 billion in net discretionary funding.
“Compared to the overall DHA budget, that’s a pretty small percentage,” Kobach said, without referring specifically to how much money the department gets.
Kobach said earlier this week that he didn’t expect Trump to waver on his views. And Trump’s immigration speech Wednesday didn’t disappoint. Trump said he’d start building the wall on day one. And he said again that Mexico would pay for it. The president of Mexico tweeted Wednesday that he’d told Trump Mexico will not do so.
The Kansas Republican called Trump’s latest immigration speech “historic.”
“I can’t remember either a president or a presidential candidate in my lifetime giving a speech about immigration with that much detail,” Kobach said.
Candidates often skip over immigration problems, Kobach said. But Trump dove in on the issues, Kobach said, including that illegal immigration is hurting labor wages.
“I think he really went in depth on a lot of topics,” Kobach said.
Kobach said he’s still advising Trump and often talks to the campaign. He frequently appears on cable news to back the GOP nominee.
Even though the secretary of state’s office focuses on elections, Kobach said it wasn’t improper for him to be vocal in his support for Trump.
“I think it’s perfectly appropriate,” Kobach said.