NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Finger pointing. Partisan politics.
President Donald Trump and congressional leaders met Wednesday to discuss ways of ending the government shutdown. This as CBS2’s Marcia Kramer demands answers from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who, it turns out, has been a big supporter of controlling the borders for years.
It may turn out to be the burning question of the government shutdown: Just what is the definition of a wall? Because in 2006 Schumer, now one of the leaders of the anti-wall forces in Washington, voted to build 700 miles of fence on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Three years later, he said progress in ending illegal immigration was defined by, “construction of a 630-mile border fence that creates a significant barrier to illegal immigration on our southern land border.”
And he slammed people who called illegal immigrants undocumented workers.
“Illegal immigration is wrong, plain and simple. Until the American people are convinced that we will stop future flows of illegal immigration we will make no progress on dealing with the millions of illegals who are here now,” Schumer said.
So, why not a wall now, Mr. Schumer? Kramer demanded answers, engaging in the following Q&A with New York’s senior senator:
Kramer: “In 2006, you supported the Secure Fence Act. In 2009, you said you would pay for 630 miles of border fence. In 2013 …”
Schumer: “It has always been …”
Kramer: “Wait, 2013 the Border Security Economic Opportunity bill. All these things supported a wall.”
Schumer: “None of them have wall in it. Zero. And that’s why no wall was ever built. There is not a nickel of wall up.”
Kramer: “What’s the difference between a wall and a fence?”
Schumer: “A lot. It’s not just fencing. A fence works. You ask the experts. A big, concrete wall is expensive and it doesn’t work. You don’t just need fencing. You need drones, you need helicopters and you need roads. The agents can’t get people crossing the border because they can’t get there.”
In addition to “fencing” with Kramer, Schumer argued that President Trump doesn’t need $5 billion for a wall because he has yet to spend the $1.7 billion for border security he has already been given. The president has spent $341 million, according to Customs and Border Patrol figures.
CBS2’s Kramer wondered if Schumer’s opposition was just a tad political.
Kramer: “If Barack Obama had asked for $5 billion for a wall would you have given it to him?”
Schumer: “First, he wouldn’t have made such a dumb proposal that nobody supports.”
Kramer asked the same question to Rep. Peter King, a Republican who is against the government shutdown.
“They’d be down there with the bricks and the cement putting it right up,” King said of the Democrats.
Kramer asked Schumer about the president’s insistence that he’s flip-flopped on border security.
“I’ve been consistent from 2006,” Schumer said. “No one even talked about a wall in 2006, 2009, 2013.”
In 2009, he also said, “We must do as much as we can to gain control of our borders as soon as possible.”
And in 2019 that means no wall.
For the record, Congressman King does see a compromise — get started on the wall, reopen government and have the president support new laws to help the dreamers.