Has Donald Trump’s weekend address created some vulnerabilities for Democrats on national security? “I don’t think Democrats are opposed to any physical barriers,” House Homeland Security Committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MI) told ABC’s This Week less than 24 hours after Trump’s speech. Thompson claimed he “would not rule out a wall in certain instances,” but claimed that the president doesn’t have a coherent plan for one.
Interestingly, Martha Raddatz didn’t exactly sound sympathetic to Thompson’s dodge:
The Democratic chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said that he “would not rule out a wall in certain instances” after President Donald Trump proposed a new immigration and border security plan Saturday in an attempt to end the partial government shutdown.
“I don’t think Democrats are opposed to any physical barriers,” Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi said. “It’s just the president constantly evolves his description of the wall, just as he indicated Mexico was going to pay for whatever was there. So what we have to do is sit down, work through this and let the public know exactly what we’re talking about and what they can expect. And we’re not there yet.”
Thompson added that he was a “believer in technology” on the southern border, saying, “Technology is the force multiplier for border security. If we do it right, then we can get — I’m convinced — the kind of border security that we need.”
Raddatz had just interviewed CBP San Diego Sector Chief Patrol Agent Rodney Scott after having spent some time with his team on the border. Raddatz had watched as illegal immigrants tried to cross the border at places where new wall was already under construction, including those with small children. Raddatz wondered whether we should feel some compassion for those trying to cross, and Scott said yes — but that he has more compassion for those who have waited patiently to do so legally:
Some migrants say a wall wouldn't stop them from entering the US, but some Customs and Border Protection officials say it's a key part of the solution. @MarthaRaddatz traveled to both sides of the border, from Tijuana to San Diego, to get a firsthand look: https://t.co/IqFn1c41K4 pic.twitter.com/IaPBAiEaFo
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) January 20, 2019
“On many, many levels I feel compassion for those people,” Scott answered. “But I also feel compassion for the several thousand people that have been in line at the San Ysidro [San Diego] port of entry for several weeks, waiting to do it right, and those people literally just cut in line in front of them.”
The wall might not be a complete solution, Scott said, but it would allow for more effective use of resources — especially against narcotic trafficking:
“We cannot effectively control the border without barriers to slow down illegal entries,” he told Raddatz, adding that while a wall wouldn’t necessarily stop the illegal flow of drugs, which mainly come through legal port of entries and tunnels, a wall would allow Scott “to free up personnel to focus on that threat.”
In addition to border wall funding and temporary protections for some immigrants, Trump’s border security proposal seeks nearly $800 million for additional border agents, law enforcement officers and other staff, $800 million in humanitarian assistance, including new temporary housing for migrants, and more than $800 million for “technology, canines and personnel to help stop the flow of illegal drugs, weapons and other contraband.”
Hence Raddatz’ tough questioning of Thompson after he claimed that the president has no plan. There is a plan in place for the wall, even if the barrier type has changed based on input from CBP. There is even money for the technology that Thompson claims he champions. Democrats simply refuse to give Trump any win at all, even when that win comes with wins of their own on DACA and TPS. And perhaps Thompson is starting to get nervous that Americans are starting to realize that.