When President Trump was elected, he promised to build a wall to protect Americans and to prevent foreign citizens from entering the country illegally. Despite the president’s efforts, Democrats have continued to refuse to adequately fund the wall, thereby resulting in a partial government shutdown.
Democrats have provided several reasons why they oppose the wall. However, when viewed in the proper context, these reasons appear to be insincere and motivated by the sheer desire to punish President Trump.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) recently explained why Democrats currently oppose Trump’s wall. First, he says, the wall is not effective compared to other security measures. Second, there is no plan to build it. Third, there is no plan to deal with eminent domain. Finally, President Trump promised that Mexico would pay for it, not the United States.
Schumer’s first point is perplexing, given several comments that he made in 2009. As Ryan Saavedra noted on Twitter recently, Schumer said then that illegal immigration is wrong and that constructing a border wall would provide a “significant barrier to illegal immigration.”
Schumer said: “[t]he American people need to know that, because of our efforts in Congress, our border is far more secure today than it was when we began debating comprehensive immigration reform in 2005. This progress includes … construction of 630 miles of border fence that create a significant barrier to illegal immigration on our southern land border.”
Chuck Schumer in 2009:
-Americans don't like illegal immigration
-"Illegal immigration is wrong"
-People illegally in the U.S. are "illegal aliens," not "undocumented"
-Border fence made the southern border "far more secure…created a significant barrier to illegal immigration" pic.twitter.com/zoVyEgdrTC
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) December 28, 2018
Why would Schumer take such a drastically different approach in 2019?
Equally surprising about Schumer’s opposition to the wall is the fact that he, then-Senator Hillary Clinton and then-Senator Barack Obama all voted in favor of the Secure Fence Act in 2006, which authorized approximately 700 miles of fencing between the border of the United States and Mexico. While the fence was a “smaller” project relative to Trump’s wall, Schumer supported it. Could Schumer’s opposition to the wall have more to do with who is in office and less to do with the wall itself?
Schumer’s second point is also somewhat silly. Trump he is seeking $5 billion, which the Department of Homeland Security estimates would build 215 miles’ worth of barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to Vox.
Additionally, while eminent domain could come up during construction, many legal experts opine that the government would have the upper hand in acquiring land for public use (assuming the border wall would be considered for public use), as opposed to property, which could present different challenges. Schumer’s question regarding eminent domain raises a broader question of whether congressional funding should be contingent on the success or failure of any potential legal challenge that could be raised. That certainly hasn’t stopped Democrats before—see, for example, Obamacare.
Finally, the fact that President Trump initially promised Mexico would pay for the wall is not a reason to deny funding. If this were a legitimate reason, Schumer and other Senate Democrats would have a hard time explaining why they recently offered $1.6 billion for border security (which Trump could use to fund the wall).
In other words, if congressional Democrats continue to reject the wall because Trump has not yet fulfilled this promise, why would they offer any money whatsoever? Shouldn’t the safety and security of the American public be worth more than the president’s campaign promise that Mexico would pay for the wall?
According to recent polling from Quinnipiac, public support for the border wall has reached an all-time high of 43 percent among the general public, a five-point increase from August. Eighty-six percent of Republicans support it. Senate Democrats continue to “come up” with nonpolitical reasons for their refusal to adequately fund the wall. But it appears President Trump is right: “[t]he Democrats don’t want to let us have strong borders, only for one reason. You know why? Because I want it.”
Given Schumer’s previous comments about the need for a wall, his support of the Secure Fence Act, and the manner in which many congressional Democrats have treated the president since he was elected, President Trump may very well have a point.