The Border Wall and Temporary Resolution of the Shutdown
Congressman Tom McClintock, House Floor Remarks, January 29, 2019
The Border Wall
I believe the President’s decision to temporarily resolve the shutdown was correct. The Democrats’ refusal even to discuss a path forward had created a crisis of governance in addition to the ongoing crisis at our southern border.
The President had offered many compromises to the Democrats – reducing his funding request; altering the design; adding nearly a billion in humanitarian aid. Yet the Democrats spurned all of these good-faith overtures.
When the President invited congressional Democrats to the Oval Office to hear their views, they refused to go. They had plenty of time to vacation in Puerto Rico with a hundred lobbyists during the shutdown, but couldn’t seem to fit a simple meeting with the President into their busy schedules to resolve it.
Based on their past behavior, I am skeptical their position will change over the next three weeks.
They tell us there is no crisis. Yet the facts speak for themselves. Between 16 and 29 million people are now living illegally in the United States, costing American taxpayers well over $100 billion a year to support. Sixty thousand more are illegally crossing our border every month. In 2017, illegal aliens murdered 1,800 Americans and violently assaulted 48,000 more.
The congressional Democrats who oppose the President’s proposal insist that they support border security but they say a wall is a costly and ineffective way to stop illegal immigration.
It is hard to take either claim seriously.
These same politicians have long advocated for providing a wide range of services for illegal immigrants, ranging from health care and legal counsel to education and housing, all at taxpayer expense. It is hard to believe they want to discourage illegal immigration while rewarding those who illegally immigrate.
The Democrats long ago ceased to call illegal immigration for what it is – illegal. Many have gone so far as to advocate abolishing the agencies that defend our borders. They have enacted sanctuary laws that protect dangerous criminal aliens from deportation; they’ve opposed mandatory employment verification to hold employers accountable for hiring illegals; they’ve opposed visa tracking of foreign nationals entering our country.
They tell us that walls are medieval, and what we really need are sophisticated cameras. But we don’t want to monitor them illegally crossing our border, we want to stop them from crossing.
Walls have been used for thousands of years to impede unauthorized entry for one reason: they work. And they still work: when Israel built a 143-mile wall to protect its southern border, illegal immigration fell 99 percent. The cost of building a wall is a fraction of the cost incurred by American citizens every year to support the illegal population in this country.
It doesn’t address the whole problem, but a wall would be a tremendous force multiplier for border enforcement agencies. It would protect them from the violent attacks to which they are constantly subjected and allow them to apply their slender resources more efficiently and effectively.
If the Democrats continue to oppose serious measures to defend our borders and enforce our laws, I urge the President to use the authority Congress granted in 1976 to reprogram already appropriated but unobligated military construction funds for the defense of our nation. And what is more fundamental to national defense than the integrity of our borders?
Some argue this would divert money from other defense department projects. It’s an odd logic that argues the defense of the Iraqi border is more important than the defense of our own.
Others have worried that a presidential order would provoke a protracted legal challenge. But isn’t that true of any course the President could take?
Others worry leftist activists would misuse the precedent. Let me ask you: when have such activists ever relied on precedent to expand their power?
Using this authority would not only build the wall, it would avoid the need to meet any demands to further diminish or dilute our current immigration laws.
If the next three weeks produces the unreasonable demands and intransigence that we have come to expect from the Democratic leadership, I strongly urge the President to use his existing authority.
Countries that either cannot or will not enforce their borders simply aren’t around very long. Let that not be America’s epitaph.