President Trump is going to the U.S.-Mexico border this week. If Trump really wants to get the advice of a border expert, he should meet with GOP Texas Congressman Will Hurd. What better expert on the most effective border security than a Texas Congressman whose district covers the largest section of the U.S.-Mexican border?
Republican Congressman Will Hurd’s Texas district stretches 800 miles from San Antonio to the outskirts of El Paso. His district spans 1/3 of the total U.S.-Mexican border. Hurd in a Washington Post piece said this about the need for a border wall.
“In fact, building a wall from sea to shining sea would be the most expensive and least effective way to secure the border … As a conservative legislator, I believe the U.S. government has a responsibility to use the hard-earned taxpayer dollars entrusted to it wisely … True border security demands a flexible, defense-in-depth strategy that includes a mix of personnel, technology and changing tactics, all of which come at a lower price tag than a border wall,” said Hurd.
Sound familiar? Democrats have been making the same point for weeks and Congressman Hurd validates the Democrats’ position.
Keep in mind Congressman Hurd is a Texas Republican and intimately understands what his constituent border ranchers, farmers and landowners want and need for border security. He can’t be accused of opposing the wall for political purposes; and as a former CIA officer, he understands the importance of national security.
He makes the point that a wall is a simplistic, one-size-fits-all plan that fails to realistically address total border security needs. His district represents a widely diverse landscape that simply makes a wall physically impossible. Hurd suggests Trump’s $5 billion wall request would be just a down payment on a total wall cost by some estimates of as much as $40 billion.
“The Rio Grande serves as the international boundary for 1,200 miles of the Texas-Mexico border — including more than 800 miles in my district — and the majestic Big Bend National Park runs along more than 100 miles of it. The tallest peak in the park is almost 8,000 feet. Building a wall in the middle of a river or at the top of a mountain would be a waste of taxpayer money. The Texas-Mexico border is also home to a significant part of the Chihuahuan Desert. Building a barrier through hundreds of miles of desert on the border is useless if you do not have Border Patrol agents available to respond to challenges to the barrier. Furthermore, much of the property along the Texas-Mexico border is privately owned, and seizing land to build a wall is not popular among these landowners,” Hurd added.
Congressman Hurd was one of seven Republicans that voted with Democrats to end the shutdown over Trump’s wall funding.
“I don’t think playing politics with a shutdown is something we should be doing,” Hurd said in a Texas Public Radio interview. “So I’m always going to work to keep the government open.”
In that interview he suggested a deal over the status of Dreamers should be on the table in any wall negotiation. His district represents a heavily Latino population and he has supported them for years.
“That could solve this problem, and everybody needs to be serious about this,” Hurd said.
It is doubtful President Trump is interested in getting the real facts on border security but if he did, he should consult with Congressman Hurd. It would certainly be helpful if some other Republicans (namely Senators’ Grassley and Ernst) were interested in talking to their Texas colleague about America’s actual border security needs.
by Rick Smith