The Trump administration, meanwhile, has begun diverting funds meant for military families to finance the project.
Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said Tuesday he didn't care who paid for the proposed border wall along the southwestern border.
His remarks come as the Trump administration moves to divert more than half a billion dollars meant to support military families to pay for the project.
During a press conference at the White House, Morgan was asked how Mexico would pay for the wall, one of Donald Trump's notable campaign pledges.
"That's a political thing to me," Morgan replied, referring to Trump's longstanding promise to force Mexico to finance the project. "I don't care who's paying for the wall. All I care about is it's being built."
Morgan proceeded to parrot Trump's rhetoric on the wall.
"By the end of 2020, we're gonna have 450 miles of beautiful new wall that's gonna absolutely, exponentially increase border patrol to safeguard your towns and your cities and your states," he said.
Zero miles of new border wall have been built thus far, according to CBP's own numbers, which only point to areas of existing border fencing that have been repaired or replaced.
When confronted with follow-up questions about how Mexico would pay for the wall on Tuesday, Morgan ended the press conference and left the podium.
Morgan notably declined to address the administration's decision to siphon funding for the wall's construction from military projects intended to benefit service members and their families. The more than half a billion dollars in diverted funding includes $13 million for a child development center at Andrews Air Force Base and hundreds of millions more for schools on U.S. military bases across the globe.
The move has prompted backlash from some Republicans on Capitol Hill who questioned its appropriateness and suggested such a decision would undermine military readiness.
CBP officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Morgan's remarks or whether he supported the Trump administration's decision to take funds meant for military families.
During his 2016 campaign, Trump repeatedly promised Mexico would pay for the border wall. When he failed to fulfill this promise, he asked Congress for billions of dollars to build it. Congress initially rejected that notion, so, in February, Trump declared a national emergency at the southern border, giving himself the authority to swipe money intended for other programs.
The Trump administration announced in September it would begin diverting $3.6 billion from military construction projects — of which the half a billion for military families is a part — to pay for the wall.
Meanwhile, in New Mexico, U.S. troops have resorted to using duct tape to repair holes in the wall at one training facility that was scheduled to receive $85 million for an upgrade. And at Fort Huachuca in Arizona, troops working in unsafe conditions will miss out on $30 million meant to upgrade the facility.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.