Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has vowed that construction of the proposed border wall with Mexico will begin by the end of the summer.
Kelly made the comments in an April 21 interview with CNN's Kate Bolduan.
"We hope to begin construction by the end of the summer," Kelly stated, according to CNN. "Clearly, we're not going to build a wall in an afternoon."
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has been touring the border area with Kelly this week, emphasized the importance of moving ahead with the wall.
"I think Congress will provide the necessary funds and there will be ways to fund this wall," added Kelly. "I believe we've got to do it. It's the final step in moving us from the success we've had so far to a permanent system where we can be proud of in ending the lawlessness."
The matter of funding the wall construction project has been an ongoing debate in the Senate. A government funding bill must be passed by April 28 in order to avert a government shutdown, but Democrats have pledged to oppose the bill if it includes wall funding. Republicans also opposed to the plan may refuse to support it, as well.
The Republicans need the backing of at least eight Democrats in the Senate.
"This president should be allowed to have his highest priorities funded even though the Democrats rightly have a seat at the table because of the Senate rules," Mick Mulvaney, head of the Congressional Budget Office, said, according to the Hill. "But you cannot expect a president who just won [an] election to give up very easily on his highest priority."
Mulvaney said the White House would be offering Democrats a deal under which the administration of President Donald Trump would pay out $1 of insurance payments for low-income health care under Obamacare for every $1 of funding for the wall agreed to by the Democrats.
The office of Democratic Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York swiftly dismissed the proposed compromise as a "nonstarter."
Kelly argued that the Trump administration's policies were effective because the numbers of illegal border crossings dropped over recent months.
During his interview with Bolduan, Kelly also criticized the administration of former President Barack Obama for its immigration policy.
"Nothing's been done in the past eight years to to enforce the border rules and regulations, not to mention many of the immigration laws inside of the United States," he said, according to CNN. "This is all about securing and safeguarding the southwest border but at the same time -- and this is critical -- making sure the free flow of legal movement and people and commercial interest north and south happen. And we're dedicated to that."
"We want people in America to know that we've secured the border, we have a lawful system of immigration, one that we can be proud of and that serves the national interest," Sessions.