World

Trump pitches 'solar wall' for Mexican border

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump pitched a new concept to his supporters on Wednesday for the wall he intends to erect on the Mexican border: cover it with solar panels and use the energy generated to cover construction costs.

"Yes, we will build a wall," he told a crowd in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "We have to stop the drugs from flowing in.

"I will give you an idea that nobody has heard about yet.

"The southern border. Lots of sun, lots of heat. We are thinking about building a wall as a solar wall. So it creates energy. And pays for itself.

"And this way, Mexico will have to pay much less money. And that's good. Right?" said the president, whose initial pledge to make Mexico pay for the wall has met with stiff resistance from America's southern neighbour.

"Think of it, the higher it goes, the more valuable it is," he enthused. "Pretty good imagination, right? My idea!"

The US administration put out a call for proposals several months ago for the construction of the border wall, one of which - submitted by a Las Vegas businessman named Tom Gleason - involved using solar panels, reported AFP.

The Trump administration has yet to make serious headway on the president's emblematic but hugely costly campaign pledge to build a wall on the Mexican border.

Under pressure from Democrats, the US Congress has so far refused to commit funding to the project, agreeing only to finance maintenance on existing parts of the border fence, AFP reported.

FUNDING BATTLE

The real funding battle will play out starting in October, when 2018 budget negotiations begin in earnest.

Mr Trump also said immigrants to the US will soon be barred from being on welfare for their first five years, reported the Washington Post.

"We'll be putting in legislation to that effect very shortly," he said, drawing enthusiastic applause from an audience of about 6,000 people, according to an estimate by the US Secret Service.

Currently, legal immigrants must live in the US for a minimum of five years to become eligible for social aid programmes, the Washington Post reported.

It is unclear how Mr Trump's version will differ for this 1996 welfare law signed by President Bill Clinton.

donald trumpunited statesSouth America