By Jon Dougherty
After Democratic leaders claimed they would ‘listen to the experts’ when deciding on wall funding, the head of the Border Patrol’s union said this week that lawmakers ignored them completely by agreeing to less than $1.4 billion in the new funding bill.
The National Border Patrol Council has consistently supported POTUS Donald Trump’s call for new border walls and other physical barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.
But, as council president Brandon Judd told Breitbart News on SiriusXM Wednesday night, congressional dealmakers ignored the experts’ advice.
While saying that he couldn’t discuss “absolute specifics” of what Border Patrol officials told the conference committee, Judd said experts “absolutely let this committee know that without physical barriers, we just cannot gain the control that’s needed on the border.”
He added that the patrol’s presentation to lawmakers was “very in-depth and went to specifics.”
Reports noted earlier this month that conference committee lawmakers were slated to hear from Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection experts who were expected to push for physical barriers — walls or fences — along specific segments of the border.
“As a matter of fact, later this week, coming up, we’ve asked the professionals — the people who do the work, that know something about the border, know what they need. Do they need a wall? They need a fence? They need more technology? Do they need it all?” Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), told CNN Feb. 4.
“We’re going to have them up before the appropriation conference committee, and we’re going to find out what they want. I think it’s not what I need or what the speaker needs or even the President needs,” Shelby added. “It’s what we need to secure our borders. And if we get this information from the experts, it could move us off the dime.”
Democrats immediately cut off Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen last month when she attempted to brief them and other lawmakers on border security at the White House.
But what the administration is seeking isn’t unreasonable, at least according to the experts.
For example, in January 2017, just days after POTUS Trump was inaugurated and was said to be considering new executive action on border security, Judd told NPR, “[W]hat we’re talking about is we’re talking about a wall in strategic locations. We’re not talking about a great wall of the United States. We’re not talking about a continuous wall from California down to Texas. We’re talking about a wall in strategic locations which then helps the Border Patrol agents do their job better.”
Apparently, however, the Border Patrol and CBP didn’t even get that.
“To see that [the experts’ recommendation] was rejected for political purposes was very disappointing …. These elected officials don’t really care about what is necessary to secure the border. They just care about what is politically expedient,” Judd told Breitbart News this week.
“We don’t need a 2,000-mile wall, but we definitely need more than 55 miles of new fencing,” he said, reiterating his 2017 statement.
Judd said some of what was proposed has been adopted in the new legislation, but the compromise bill “doesn’t go as far as what was needed.”
He said that it would have taken the full $5.7 billion POTUS was seeking in order to achieve real border security. “$1.3 [billion] just isn’t going to do it,” he said.
On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the president would sign the conference committee legislation that has passed both chambers of Congress, but also declare a national emergency along the border to secure funds from discretionary spending accounts in order to build the wall.
Left-wing groups are expected to immediately sue the administration over the declaration, but legal experts have said they will have a high bar to overcome since the law is clear that presidents have wide discretion in declaring emergencies.
The White House no doubt believes it will eventually come out on top if the case makes it all the way to the Supreme Court, as is expected.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10
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