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Paying for Trump's dubious immigration goals isn't easy (or cheap)

According to the White House's budget plans, Mexico isn't paying for Donald Trump's border wall; the Coast Guard and FEMA are.
In this July 19, 2015 photo released by the U.S. Coast Guard, a Coast Guard Cutter Stratton boarding team investigates a self-propelled semi-submersible. (Photo by LaNola Stone/U.S. Coast Guard/ AP)
In this July 19, 2015 photo released by the U.S. Coast Guard, a Coast Guard Cutter Stratton boarding team investigates a self-propelled semi-submersible in international waters off the coast of Central America. 
CNBC's John Harwood talked this morning to a U.S. security official who described Donald Trump's proposed cuts to the Coast Guard as "insane." The official added it'd be a good idea to take a look at what it costs the Coast Guard to help oversee security "at Mar-a-Lago every weekend."What's this all about? The Washington Post reported on the Republican White House's approach to paying for some of its security and immigration priorities.

The Trump administration, searching for money to build the president's planned multibillion-dollar border wall and crack down on illegal immigration, is weighing significant cuts to the Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration and other agencies focused on national security threats, according to a draft plan.The proposal, drawn up by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), also would slash the budget of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which provides disaster relief after hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters. The Coast Guard's $9.1 billion budget in 2017 would be cut 14 percent to about $7.8 billion, while the TSA and FEMA budgets would be reduced about 11 percent each to $4.5 billion and $3.6 billion, respectively.

When it comes to the debate over Trump's Muslim ban and proposed border wall, much of the discussion focuses on the ideas on the merits, which certainly makes sense. But it's worth pausing to appreciate the fact that the president's priorities, in addition to being misguided, aren't cheap.And according to the administration's budget plans, Mexico isn't paying for Trump's priorities; the Coast Guard is.The Post's report added, "The plan puts the administration in the unusual position of trading spending on security programs for other security priorities at the southern border, raising questions among Republican lawmakers and homeland-security experts."A Politico report, meanwhile, said Trump's proposal for moving funds around -- away from the Coast Guard and FEMA, towards his illegal immigration crackdown -- "defies logic if the White House is serious about defending against terrorism and keeping out undocumented foreigners."It's worth emphasizing that these cuts have been proposed, not made. This is all part of a budget plan Trump's White House has sent to Congress, reflecting the president's wishes and vision for how the administration should approach these security issues.It's likely, however, that lawmakers will have very different ideas about the investments. This is important to the extent that it speaks to Trump's priorities, but it doesn't mean his budget goals will be implemented.