by Molly Prince
Former Democratic Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke said Thursday he would remove the existing border barrier in his hometown of El Paso if he had the ability to do so, a question proposed to him by his fellow Texan, Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw.
Prior to President Donald Trump’s rally in El Paso on Monday, Crenshaw tweeted at O’Rourke, asking “if you could snap your fingers and make El Paso’s border wall disappear, would you?”
.@BetoORourke should answer a simple question tonight with respect to the border debate:
If you could snap your fingers and make El Paso’s border wall disappear, would you?
Because this DHS graph shows that when the wall was built, illegal crossings dropped significantly. pic.twitter.com/JgquXfw2Ee
— Dan Crenshaw (@DanCrenshawTX) February 11, 2019
“Yes, absolutely. I’d take the wall down,” O’Rourke responded to MSNBC’s Chris Hayes when presented with Crenshaw’s question.
O’Rourke said since a barrier was constructed on the border through the Secure Fence Act, Americans have not “in any demonstrative way” been made safer. However, Crenshaw’s tweet provided data from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which showed illegal border crossings reduced significantly since the wall was in place. He also provided data showing a similar pattern in other border cities.
“[The border wall] has cost us tens of billions of dollars to build and maintain, and it has pushed migrants and asylum seekers and refugees to the most inhospitable, the most hostile stretches of the U.S.-Mexico border, ensuring their suffering and death,” O’Rourke continued. “More than 4,000 human beings — little kids, women and children — have died. They’re not in cages, they’re not locked up, they’re not separated — they’re dead.”
Crenshaw immediately responded that “at least Beto is honest about his open border policy” since “most [Democrats] claim to support a secure border while simultaneously undermining it at every turn.”
“Should also note: El Paso mayor stated ‘The fence has worked.’ Residents have ‘stated that they felt more secure with the fence.’” Crenshaw added.
Interestingly, O’Rourke has long argued against a border wall, despite still claiming to be against open borders. Following Trump’s executive order in September to erect an 18-foot steel bollard wall to replace the existing pedestrian fencing in El Paso, he called the existing chain-link fence “bad enough.”
In the past, the failed senatorial candidate emphasized the way to improve safety and security is to “ensure that we are maximizing the potential from everyone … [and] treating each other with respect and dignity,” and referred to Trump’s request to fund a wall an “expression of our smallness, our meanness, our fear to the rest of the world.”
O’Rourke faced backlash for refusing to clarify where he stood on the migrant caravan that was heading toward the United States. He dodged commenting on the topic despite immigration and border security overwhelmingly being the top issues for voters in Texas during his unsuccessful run to unseat Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in November 2018.
He also raised eyebrows in December 2018 when he blamed a border wall as the reason for why an increasing number of migrants die as they illegally attempt to cross into the country.
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