In this Jan. 12, 2021, file photo, Donald Trump tours a section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall in Alamo, Texas. Credit: Alex Brandon / AP

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn has a new idea for protecting the still-unfinished border wall championed by former President Donald Trump: Turn any part of the wall into a national monument.

Cawthorn, a first-term Republican who represents far-western North Carolina, even wants to honor Trump with the bill. He’s calling it a “Donument.” Cawthorn introduced the legislation last week.

“The Donument Act establishes the southern border wall as the “Southern Border Wall National Monument,” and gives the monument permanent protection from alteration,” Cawthorn said in a statement promoting the bill.

The national monument would consist of 289,920 acres of land in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. The secretary of interior would be in charge of administration of the monument.

The bill is unlikely to go anywhere in the Democratic-controlled House.

Trump made building a border wall — and having Mexico pay for it — a signature piece of his 2016 campaign for president. Under the Trump administration about 80 miles of new wall were built and about 450 total miles were built, replaced or reinforced. Mexico did not pay for it.

Democratic President Joe Biden paused border construction with an executive order on his first day in office.

“Building a massive wall that spans the entire southern border is not a serious policy solution. It is a waste of money that diverts attention from genuine threats to our homeland security,” Biden said at the time.

But administration officials have said they may restore some limited construction to fill in some of the “gaps” in the current wall, The Washington Times reported earlier this month.

Cawthorn blamed Biden for taking executive actions that Cawthorn said have led to skyrocketing rates of illegal immigration and drug trafficking.

“I will make every effort to protect and secure the southern border, and advance an America first agenda. If Biden refuses to finish the wall, you can be sure that American patriots will do everything in their power to protect it,” Cawthorn said.

There are more than 135 national monuments in the United States, the majority of them in the West.

Trump did not endorse Cawthorn in the GOP primary in the 11th Congressional District in 2020. But once Cawthorn won the primary, Trump embraced him and gave him a prime speaking spot at the Republican National Convention.

Cawthorn has been the lead sponsor of nine bills in his first months in the U.S. House, including one to make Daylight Saving Time permanent.

Cawthorn, 25, is the youngest member of the House. He spoke at Trump’s rally that preceded the Jan. 6 Capitol attack and has already drawn a host of challengers — Republican and Democrat — for his 2022 reelection bid.

Cawthorn raised more than $1 million for his reelection in the first three months of 2021, The Mountaineer reported.

Story by Brian Murphy, McClatchy Washington Bureau.