President-elect Donald Trump's transition team has contacted border officials to ask where a wall could be constructed along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to The New York Times.
Trump referred to the "big, beautiful wall" as a key campaign promise, one he said would combat illegal immigration, and his aides continue to say that border wall construction is a priority for the new administration.
The team appears to be looking at fences and other options along the 1,900-mile border, The Times reports.
Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar, whose district includes 200 miles of the border, said that patrol officials from two sectors of the border contacted him on behalf of the Trump administration last week, asking for ideas for a location of the barrier.
"I'm one of the few congressmen who doesn't have a fence in his area. They asked us to put some locations down, so we talked about areas they'd proposed and some infrastructure, whether it's a wall or fencing," Cuellar said, according to The Times.
Cuellar added the officials told him they opposed a barrier, saying it would be impossible to set up a barrier off of Laredo, Texas, a city with a population of 255,000 and the busiest inland port on the U.S. side of the border — but the transition team insisted.
Trump spokesman Jason Miller declined to comment for The Times.
Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz, a Democrat, said the Border Patrol's Laredo sector presented plans to remove vegetation and install fencing, lighting, roads, security equipment, and some fencing around parts of the city, but no wall was mentioned.
Saenz said that was "frankly, a big relief." His city has a sister-city agreement with Tamaulipas, Mexico, across the Mexican border.
Cuellar said walling off the city would damage that relationship. "It's a 14th-century solution to a 21st-century problem," Cuellar said, according to The Times.
Both officials appear to support walls in some form.
"I would have no problem with it if it's strategically placed and it's well designed, in other words, if it doesn't look too prison-like," Saenz said. "I think if we had a road, possibly a fence, and then lighting, I think that would help. I don't think the folks here would be too, too upset.
"But the nature of a huge wall, concrete and that sort of thing, is upsetting. We have a very close relationship with Mexico, especially the commerce that comes to our city, and a huge wall would obviously be offensive to Mexico and to the people that do business with Mexico here."
The mayor said the Border Patrol put up steel fencing along a community college's border perimeter years ago, and that worked. "To be honest with you, I think we were happy with it. I think it took care of the problem," Saenz said.
In 2015, the Pew Research Center reported that Mexicans are leaving the U.S. in higher numbers than they are coming in.
However, Central Americans who are escaping violence in their home countries are arriving, and they consider getting arrested the first step toward gaining asylum, The Times reports.
Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, an El Paso Democrat, told The Times he opposed a border wall because "additional walls or fences, physical or virtual, are not a good use of taxpayer resources, and they also pose the risk of taking our eyes off threats where they are known to exist or likely to be, and that happens not to be at the border with Mexico."
Last week, environmentalist Homero Aridjis and professor James Ramey wrote in The Huffington Post suggested a border wall be made of solar panels, which could create jobs.
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