Donald Trump “doesn’t really understand” border security and there is no evidence that a wall along the southern border would do anything at all, the new chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said on Sunday.
Democrat Adam Smith of Washington has taken over as chair of the committee after Democrats took control of the House of Representatives this week, and took aim directly at Trump in an appearance on ABC’s This Week. Smith claimed that Trump has a lack of understanding if he thinks that a concrete wall will stop illegal immigration to the United States.
“The wall is not in itself a bad idea,” Smith said (via the Hill). “It’s just that it’s been done. And what the president has not done is he has not made the case that on the portions of the border where a wall has not been built, how is a wall going to enhance border security? There is no evidence whatsoever that that’s necessary.”
Led by new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrats have been steadfast in their stance not to vote for any funding for Trump’s border wall. The president’s demand for $5 billion created a government shutdown which has now stretched more than two weeks, and during that time Trump has become increasingly aggressive in his attacks on Democrats.
Smith is not alone in making the case that the border wall would not be sufficient to address illegal immigration and border security. Others have noted that it would be an insufficient measure, especially given that the majority of illegal immigrants enter legally — usually by driving across the border — and simply overstay their visas.
Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz, who once invited Trump to his town to speak about border security, said he tried to explain to the president the other deficiencies a wall would face.
“He was insisting on this physical wall, and we told him that given the terrain and how the lay of the land there… we have a network of creeks and waterways that actually empty into the river. And it’s a rolling topography,” he said in an interview with NPR. “It doesn’t necessarily lend itself engineering-wise, I think, it doesn’t lend itself for a physical wall.”
This week, Trump said that he could declare a national emergency in order to get the funding himself, but Smith said this would be a “terrible” decision that would face immediate challenges in court. The optics of such a move would be bad as well, Smith said.
“The president spends most of his time talking about how we’re not spending enough on national security,” Smith said. “Now he wants to take $20 billion dollars out of the defense budget to build a wall, which by the way is not going to improve our border security.”
Rep. Adam Smith says the wall is a "campaign promise" that "Mexico was supposed to pay for" and now President Trump is "shutting down the government to break his signature campaign promise ... that the taxpayers were not going to have to pay for it." https://t.co/Tm1bnHsp7t pic.twitter.com/VcyZG9kQZM— ABC News (@ABC) January 6, 2019
Adam Smith went on to point out that Donald Trump repeatedly said he would make Mexico pay for the wall.