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On Thursday, failed senatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke declared emphatically that he not only opposes Trump’s call to build a wall, he wants all existing border fences torn down, including outside his home town of El Paso.
But in his explanation for why he’s so adamantly opposed to the wall, the presidential hopeful ended up making several points that align with the conservative case for building the wall.
O’Rourke was asked by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, “If you could, would you take the wall down now? Knock it down?”
As Hayes made clear, the question was prompted by a post by Texas Republican Congressman Dan Crenshaw directed at O’Rourke pointing out the effectiveness of border fences: “[Beto O’Rourke] 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?” wrote Crenshaw, adding: “Because this DHS graph shows that when the wall was built, illegal crossings dropped significantly.”
O’Rourke happily took the bait, replying, “Yes, absolutely,” in response to Hayes’ question about taking the walls down. Asked if he thinks a referendum to knock down the existing wall would pass in El Paso, O’Rourke said, “I do.”
Beto then provided his rationale for dismantling all existing border walls: “Here’s what we know: After the Secure Fence Act, we had built 600 miles of wall and fencing on a 2,000-mile border. What that has done is not in any demonstrable way made us safer. It’s cost us tens of billions of dollars to build and to maintain.”
If he had stopped there, he might’ve been okay; instead, he continued — and ended up accidentally making the case for those who argue that walls do in fact work: “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.”
In other words, the walls do deter illegal crossings where they are built. It’s also worth noting that those “asylum seekers” O’Rourke references would be deliberately attempting to cross at illegal points instead of seeking out legal ports of entry where they would apply for asylum. In other words, they are not would-be “asylum seekers” by definition: they are would-be illegal aliens. Fox News’ Brit Hume made this point in a post responding to the interview (h/t Twitchy):
In which he says existing walls and fences have forced illegals toward the most dangerous places to cross, which means they are indeed a deterrent. His sympathies as expressed here are entirely with those crossing illegally. He clearly wants to make it easier for them. https://t.co/QiiZWmqd8G
— Brit Hume (@brithume) February 15, 2019
“More than 4,000 human beings — little kids, women and children — have died,” O’Rourke continued. “They’re not in cages, they’re not locked up, they’re not separate — they’re dead, over the last ten years, as we have walled off their opportunity to legally petition for asylum, to cross in urban centers, like El Paso — to be with family, to work jobs, to do what any human being should have a right to be able to do.”
As The Daily Wire noted Thursday, the Republican National Committee has produced a website containing some facts about the crisis on the border that O’Rourke and his fellow Democrats are conveniently ignoring, including:
Fact #1: In four Customs and Border Protection sectors where physical barriers have been expanded — El Paso, Yuma, Tucson, and San Diego — illegal traffic has dropped by at least 90%.
Fact #2: In fiscal year 2018, U.S. Border Patrol seized or helped seize 282,000 pounds of cocaine, 248,000 pounds of methamphetamine, 6,500 pounds of heroin, and 2,400 pounds of fentanyl.
Fact #3: In 2018, over 17,000 adults arrested at the border had prior criminal records. This included over 6,000 gang members, a major number of those members were from MS-13.