Republicans held a sham hearing to support Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico, but a former George W. Bush administration border protection official told the hearing that the wall would make Americans "less safe," and that Congress "should not support it."
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is prone to holding sham committee hearings in order to promote terrible Republican policies, but luckily, Democrats on these committees get to call witnesses, as well.
At just such a hearing by the House Oversight Committee's Subcommittee on National Security, in support of Donald Trump's non-Mexico-funded border wall, Republicans stacked the witness table with people like the president of the extreme anti-immigrant organization "The Center for Immigration Studies."
But Democrats called more neutral witnesses, like former Bush administration Border Protection Policy Director Seth Stodder, who also served as Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Border, Immigration & Trade Policy under the Obama administration.
Challenging the GOP's propensity for using national security and the notion of keeping Americans safe to support policies which serve neither goal, Stodder's testimony was light on the fear-mongering that characterized the Republican witnesses, and heavy on reality. In his opening remarks, he told the subcommittee that Trump's wall would make Americans "less safe," and that Congress "should not support it."
— Tommy Christopher (@tommyxtopher) April 27, 2017
President Trump's proposal to build a wall across the entire US/Mexico border is deeply misguided, and Congress should not support it. Building a wall would be a massive waste of billions of taxpayer dollars, and unfortunately, we'll get very little in return, because the wall won't help us address any of the most pressing challenges we face at the border. In fact, it'll actually make us less safe.
Stodder went on to explain his point that the wall would do nothing to address the serious problems at the southern border, and that it threatened to erode security cooperation with Mexican authorities.
Trump himself made a surprise appearance of sorts, as Democratic Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) brought along a visual aid to illustrate Trump's broken promise that Mexico would fund the border wall:
DESAULNIER: Trump's request for Congress to appropriate billions of dollars is short-sighted — is a short-sighted request for Congress, and breaks one of his most fundamental campaign promises: That the American people would not pay a dime for the wall on the US-Mexico border. Mr. Chairman, we have a short video to play at this time.
TRUMP: We're gonna build the wall, we have no choice... Who is going to pay for the wall? [CROWD: "Mexico!"] Who? [CROWD: "Mexico!"] ...The wall is going to be paid for by Mexico... Mexico is going to pay for the wall... And Mexico will pay for the wall... Mexico is going to pay for it... And I will have Mexico pay for that wall... Who's going to pay for the wall? [CROWD: "Mexico!"]
INTERVIEWER: Do you believe that Mexico will pay for it?
MCCONNELL: Oh, no. [laughter]
REPORTER: He's obviously talking about having Mexico pay for it. Do you think that's actually a viable option?
[end of video]
DESAULNIER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. When announcing his presidential bid, the president stated and I quote, "I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I'll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I'll have Mexico pay for that wall mark my words." End of quote. At that February 2016 campaign rally, the President reiterated, "We will build a great wall along our southern border, and Mexico will pay for that wall a hundred percent."
Of course, these are only a few of the countless times the president has over-promised and under-delivered for the American people. Now, less than a hundred days into his presidency he has completely abandoned this promise, and changed his tune. Earlier this week, President Trump tweeted that Mexico will pay for the wall, quote "eventually and in some form." With his track record, nobody should believe that.
Instead he's demanding that American families have the burden of finding additional billions of dollars to build this wall. Until earlier this week, he was signaling that he would be willing to shut down the government to get the leverage to take this money out of the wallets of hard-working American families. We have real problems to address in securing our borders, we all agree. But the president's proposed border wall does nothing to advance — nothing or very little to advance our national security. Not only should it not be built, but it absolutely should not be built on the backs of hard-working American families. I yield back.
Trump's failed threat to shut down the government over funding for the wall is just the latest in a string of such failures, but the fact that Republicans continue to hold hearings such as these demonstrates that they are as committed to these failures as he is. Luckily, there are Democrats and other adults, like Stodder, to resist them.