Posts Tagged ‘Southern Border Fencing Strategy’

Democrats were for a border wall before they were against it

January 11, 2019

Barring some miraculous breakthrough, on Saturday the current government shutdown will become the longest in American history. But it has already hit another historic milestone: It is, by far and away, the stupidest government shutdown in American history.

In 2019, the federal government will spend a whopping $4.407 trillion. Yet Congress and the president are shutting down the government in a dispute between the $1.3 billion the Democrats have approved for border security and the $5.7 billion the president is demanding — the difference being precisely 0.0998 percent of the total federal budget. In Washington, that is considered a rounding error.

Worse, Democrats are doing it over a border wall strikingly similar to one that they almost unanimously supported just five years ago. While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) now says that “a wall is an immorality,” back in 2013, she supported a bill that required the construction of 700 miles of border fencing. (Trump has called for a wall of “anywhere from 700 to 900 miles” long.) The bill negotiated by the Gang of Eight, which included current Democratic leaders Sens. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) and Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), declared that “not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary [of Homeland Security] shall establish . . . the ‘Southern Border Fencing Strategy,’ to identify where 700 miles of fencing (including double-layer fencing) . . . should be deployed along the Southern border.”

By  Marc A. Thiessen
Opinion
Washington Post


Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), left, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are joined by furloughed federal workers at an event in Washington on Wednesday to discuss the impact on families of the partial government shutdown and President Trump’s demands for funding a U.S.-Mexico border wall. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

That’s not all. The bill further said that “the Secretary may not adjust the status of aliens who have been granted registered provisional immigrant status . . . until 6 months after . . . [the Secretary submits] a written certification that . . . there is in place along the Southern Border no fewer than 700 miles of pedestrian fencing.” In other words, Democrats agreed that no illegal immigrants could get a path to citizenship until all 700 miles of border fencing had been fully completed.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in Washington, D.C., Jan. 8.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in Washington, D.C., Jan. 8. PHOTO: JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS

Every Senate Democrat voted for the Gang of Eight bill — including 36 Democratic senators still serving today. President Barack Obama agreed to sign it. Indeed, he praised the bill for including what he called “the most aggressive border security plan in our history” and said that “the Senate bill is consistent with the key principles for commonsense reform that I — and many others — have repeatedly laid out” (emphasis added). That bears repeating: Obama said building a 700-mile fence on the southern border was consistent with the principles of the Democratic Party.

Pelosi supported the Gang of Eight bill, saying at the time that “every piece of this legislation has had bipartisan support” (emphasis added). But now we are shutting down the government over a wall much like the one that Pelosi and Senate Democrats fully supported just five years ago?

Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi hopes to find ‘common ground’ with Republicans

Democrats will object that the Gang of Eight bill did fund a border wall, but it was in exchange for a lot of concessions. Of course it was. As Obama said at the time, “the bipartisan bill that passed today was a compromise.” But today, Democrats are refusing to compromise or lay out what concessions they would accept in exchange for wall funding. When Trump rhetorically backed off the wall and talked about “steel slats” — a fence — Democrats ignored it. When Vice President Pence reportedly offered a deal for $2.5 billion, Democrats dismissed it. In a White House meeting Wednesday, Trump asked Pelosi whether, if he agreed to end the shutdown and negotiate separately on border security, she would support wall funding. She said no. That is ridiculous.

In their response to the president’s address to the nation, Schumer and Pelosi accused Trump of “manufacturing a crisis.” That is simply untrue. As The Post reported this week, the United States now faces “a bona fide emergency on the border” as “record numbers of migrant families are streaming into the United States, overwhelming border agents and leaving holding cells dangerously overcrowded with children, many of whom are falling sick.”

Democrats could not possibly be in a better position to demand concessions form Trump if they had manufactured a crisis. So put some demands on the table, for crying out loud. If Democrats think they have Trump cornered, then squeeze him and try get a lot out of him. But don’t refuse to negotiate and tell us the wall is an “immorality” — because their voting history shows they don’t believe that.

Read more from Marc Thiessen’s archivefollow him on Twitter or subscribe to his updates on Facebook.

Above: Sign near former President Barack Obama’s house…..

Related:

Advertisements

Once Upon a Time, When Democrats embraced the ‘Southern Border Fencing Strategy’

December 27, 2018

In 2006 Congress passed the Secure Fence Act, which mandated the construction of multilayer pedestrian fencing along about 600 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. It passed with big, bipartisan majorities: 283 votes in the House and 80 in the Senate. Some top Democrats who are still in the Senate today supported the fence: Chuck Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, Ron Wyden, Debbie Stabenow, and Sherrod Brown.

Just the next year, Congress made clear it didn’t really mean what it said. The new law was amended to make fence building optional.

By Byron York
Commentary

Related image

In 2013, Congress got back into the fence game. The Gang of Eight comprehensive immigration reform bill included something called the “Southern Border Fencing Strategy.” It called for 700 miles of at least single-layer pedestrian fencing along the border. It wasn’t a standalone measure; the fence was to be part of a broader package of border security measures alongside provisions that would create a process by which the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants would ultimately gain a path to citizenship.

With citizenship in the deal — even citizenship that would take a decade to achieve in some cases — Democrats were fully on board for a border barrier. The Gang of Eight bill passed in the Senate with 68 votes, including unanimous Democratic support. Name any Democrat who is in the Senate today who was there for that 2013 vote — Schumer, Durbin, Murray, Baldwin, Bennet, Blumenthal, Brown, Cantwell, Cardin, Casey, Coons, Feinstein, Gillibrand, Hirono, Kaine, Klobuchar, Leahy, Manchin, Menendez, Merkley, Murphy, Reed, Sanders, Shaheen, Stabenow, Tester, Warner, Warren, Whitehouse, Wyden — name any, and they voted for the bill that included the Southern Border Fencing Strategy.

In the House, the Republican leadership blocked the Gang of Eight bill from coming to a vote. But the overwhelming majority of House Democrats were said to be in favor of it, so there is no doubt that had the bill been put to a vote, House Democrats, like their counterparts in the Senate, would have supported the fencing provision.

A key part of deliberations inside the Gang of Eight focused on the question of trust. Republicans felt burned by the 1986 immigration reform bill, which called for the government to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants and also institute new border security measures. The amnesty happened but the security did not, leading to an even greater number of people crossing illegally into the United States from Mexico. So many years later, when the Gang of Eight was negotiated, Republicans insisted that security measures actually be implemented and in place before an amnesty, or legalization, or path to citizenship, was granted.

The bill would have given a provisional legal status to illegal immigrants who did not have criminal records. But the Gang of Eight said that border security measures, including the fence, had to be funded and built before those illegal immigrants could be given permanent legal residence in the United States. From the bill:

Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary [of Homeland Security] shall establish a strategy, to be known as the “Southern Border Fencing Strategy,” to identify where 700 mils of fencing (including double-layer fencing), infrastructure, and technology, including at ports of entry, should be deployed along the Southern border…

The Secretary may not adjust the status of aliens who have been granted registered provisional immigrant status…until 6 months after the date on which the Secretary…submits to the President and Congress a written certification that…the Southern Border Fencing Strategy has been submitted to Congress and implemented, and as a result the Secretary will certify that there is in place along the Southern Border no fewer than 700 miles of pedestrian fencing which will include replacement of all currently existing vehicle fencing on non-tribal lands on the Southern Border with pedestrian fencing where possible, and after this has been accomplished may include a second layer of pedestrian fencing in those locations along the Southern Border which the Secretary deems necessary or appropriate.

The Gang of Eight bill passed the Senate in June 2013, five and a half years ago. Now, many Democrats say there are no circumstances under which they would support President Trump’s proposal for a border wall — even if it is in fact a fence, or barrier, or whatever Democrats would prefer to call it. Many observers have noted that the Democratic Party has changed dramatically in the last half-dozen years or so, and one of the areas in which that change has been most pronounced is immigration. On that issue, the party has moved far left.

Today, Democrats will not even support a relatively small amount of money, $5 billion or even less, to build a portion of the barrier Trump wants. A possible deal — wall funding in exchange for DACA legalization — fell through earlier this year in part because Trump added new demands to the wall proposal, but also because a federal judge in California stopped the president’s move to rescind DACA. It was at best a questionable decision — the court said a president cannot use executive action to undo an executive action of a previous president — but it was later backed up by other courts, and it gave Democrats the assurance that they might get what they want from the courts without having to give away anything in a deal with Trump.

And now the Democratic position appears to have hardened further still. Earlier this month, Nancy Pelosi called a border wall “immoral.” How could her party make any deal to support, even a little bit, something her colleagues believe is immoral? It is unclear whether Pelosi thinks all the barriers currently in place on the U.S.-Mexico border are immoral, but it seems clear that she would never support any new ones.

The U.S.-Mexico border is nearly 2,000 miles long. Significant parts of it are so rugged that barriers are simply unnecessary. During the campaign, candidate Trump called for 1,000 miles of wall. Some advocates of more barriers would be happy with a bit less than that.

According to the Border Patrol, there are now 354 miles of single fence along the border. There are 37 miles of double-deep fence and 14 miles of three-deep fencing, for a total of 405 miles of pedestrian fencing. In addition, there are 300 miles of vehicle fencing, which keeps cars and trucks from crossing the border but allows people to move freely.

The Gang of Eight bill would have replaced that with 700 miles of pedestrian fencing, some of it multilayer. It’s less than the 1,000 miles Trump wanted, but the president might well take a deal like that today. The question is whether there are any circumstances under which Democrats would ever agree.

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columnists/byron-york-when-democrats-embraced-the-southern-border-fencing-strategy