Trump will build border wall ‘one way or another’, says chief of staff Mick Mulvaney

President Donald Trump will build his border wall "one way or another", the White House said on Sunday, as Democrats and Republicans prepared to begin three weeks of negotiations to strike a deal and avoid another government shutdown.

As federal employees return to work on Monday after a bruising 35 day absence, Democrat and Republican leaders are to form a bipartisan ‘conference committee" to start the difficult process of finding common ground before the February 15 deadline.

For his part, the US leader remained steadfast this weekend in his determination to secure $5.7 billion to fund a structure on the southern border with Mexico.

And on Sunday he ramped up the rhetoric by claiming there were 25 million illegal immigrants in the US –  more than double the previously reported 11 million, while at the same time highlighting the financial burden. 

Mr Trump tweeted: "We are not even into February and the cost of illegal immigration so far this year is $18,959,495,168. Cost Friday was $603,331,392. There are at least 25,772,342 illegal aliens, not the 11,000,000 that have been reported for years, in our Country. So ridiculous!"

t was unclear where he found the figures he refers to. "I’m not exactly sure where the president got that number this morning," said Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff.

Earlier in the day, he returned to theme of voter fraud, citing a year long study in Texas which showed almost 100,000 illegal immigrants had registered on the electoral roll with more than half participating in an election.

"58,000 non-citizens voted in Texas, with 95,000 non-citizens registered to vote. These numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. All over the country, especially in California, voter fraud is rampant. Must be stopped. Strong voter ID!"

Mr Mulvaney said the administration would rather use legislation than invoke executive action to procure funding by siphoning from government departments  – but that Mr Trump would get his border wall.

"At the end of the day, the President is going to secure the border, one way or another," he told Fox News.

But among the 800000 federal workers who went without paychecks for over a month, there were fears the reopened government is a  temporary situation.

"You can only be so happy because you just have to know that it could happen again," said Rachel Malcom, whose husband serves in the Coast Guard in Rhode Island. "We’re going to be playing catch up, so I don’t want to overspend."