Rep. Will Hurd of Texas is on of the few Republican lawmakers standing up against President Donald Trump’s rhetoric touting a crisis on the southern U.S. border — a crisis he claims makes necessary his pet border wall project promised during the 2016 election.
But Hurd says Trump’s border crisis is a “myth” and is opposed to the wall idea, telling Rolling Stone in a recent interview that a concrete or steel slat wall is a “third-century solution to a 21st-century problem.”
“What I always say is building a wall from sea to shining sea is the most expensive and least effective way to do border security,” Hurd says.
The lawmaker might know better than most others what would enhance border security along the U.S.-Mexico line: his district is about the size of Georgia, covers 29 counties and two time zones, and includes 820 miles of the southern border.
In remarks to Rolling Stone, Hurd said a wall along the entire border is foolish, in large part because one mile of border is different from the next — in some places, a barrier is helpful, but in others, it would prove useless, he said.
You have urban-to-urban contact, like El Paso and [Ciudad] Juarez. Juarez is, I believe, twice the size of El Paso, and they’re right up next to each other. [Ed note: Ciudad Juarez’s population is 1.3 million and El Paso’s is 684,000.] Then, in some places, I have Big Bend National Park. Santa Elana Canyon is a 6,000-foot cliff, then the Rio Grande River, and then another 6,000-foot cliff on the other side. Guess what? It’s already a physical barrier. Lake Amistad, which is a lake on both sides of the border, has dozens of miles on either side. A wall in a body of water has another name. It’s called a dam.
But even if a wall were feasible along the entire border, Hurd said it wouldn’t make a dent in the problem of drugs moving into the country, despite Trump's insistence that it would:
If the narcos are making $67 billion a year — that’s a conservative, with a little “c,” estimate on how much is there — you’re not bringing [drugs] in in backpacks. You’re bringing it in in bulk. The U.S. national intelligence program is $60 billion. The narcos have the resources, they don’t have to worry about government shutdowns, and they’re coming back and forth and being able to deliver their product. That is the issue we’re dealing with.
Further, the Republican would like to see the federal government confront the root problem, which lies far south of the U.S.-Mexico border:
By the way, do you know what the root causes [of illegal immigration] are? Violence and lack of economy opportunities in the Northern Triangle: El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. State Department and USAID are doing programs to work with our allies to address those problems. We’ve seen, in the equivalent of what we would call counties, USAID and State Department activities where you’ve seen a decrease in the violence. Guess what you’ve also seen? You’ve seen a decrease in the people leaving there to come to the United States of America.
We’ve got to address root causes. That takes time. We should be working with Mexico. Mexico deports more Central Americans than we do almost by two-to-one. This is a shared problem, so let’s address the root causes as well on that.
But the so-called crisis on America’s southern border? That is nothing but a “myth”, Hurd said, and the shutdown over a supposed wall to fight it is ridiculous.
That’s why we’ll continue to talk about how we solve this problem, operate within the Secure Fence Act, double down on our ports of entry, because that’s where most of the illegal drugs come in, that’s where most people are surrendering. We’ll use technology and address root causes in Mexico with a Marshall Plan for Central America. You do those things, put that together, it’s a big package, but it’s also what is needed in order to make sure our country is safe.