Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen watches the dedication of a new steel border fence in Calexico in October. Courtesy Department of Homeland Security

President Trump officially dropped his insistence on a concrete wall along the Mexican border, saying a steel fence would be “less obtrusive and stronger.”

Trump’s concession on the barrier, after commissioning concrete prototypes that were erected in Otay Mesa last year, could lead to a compromise on border security funding and a reopening of the federal government.

“We’ve been in touch with a lot of people and I informed my folks to say that we’ll build a steel barrier, steel, that it will be made out of steel, that it will be less obtrusive and stronger,” Trump told reporters outside the White House after returning from Camp David.

He tweeted the same message, calling a steel fence a “good solution, and made in the U.S.A.”

Trump on Sunday raised again the idea of declaring a national emergency to construct a border barrier, though Democrats in Congress questioned the legality of such a move.

The partial shutdown of the federal government is now in its 16th day with 800,000 employees furloughed or working without pay. Many federal contractors are also affected.

Trump has refused to sign legislation funding the government unless it includes $5 billion for a border barrier. Democrats controlling the House have agreed to fund only $1.3 billion for border security.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.