RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Tensions at the U.S.-Mexico border are reaching a boiling point as politicians continue to debate the president's chief election promise to build a border wall. It's promise South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds fully endorses.
Rounds says the border wall is not necessarily a wall but a, "Border security system". He, along with Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, are sponsoring a push to fund the wall.
Rounds says they have found a way to move money around, partially by stopping illegal residents from receiving government benefits and increasing the fine on those illegally crossing the border. Round is calling for $2.5 billion a year for up to 10 years.
"If you're going to modernize our immigration system you have to be able to defend our borders." Rounds said. "What we tried to do is establish a fund, or at least access to funds, that would not take away from the defense of our country by using other, already allocated defense spending."
Cost estimates put the border wall at anywhere from 8 to 70 billion dollars. This week President Donald Trump said he would be willing to shut down the government if Democrats did not approve a $5 billion down payment.
"I do not think we will have a government shutdown," Rounds said. "I think this was still a matter of positioning by both Republicans and Democrats when the president had that discussion. In talking with other members, leadership within the Senate and members within the House none of us want to have a government shutdown."
However, if there is a government shut down, Rounds says it won't be as bad as the last one because the legislature has already put funding in place for "75 percent" of operations.