Less than 24 hours after President Trump signed an executive order asking the government to move forward with wall construction, at least two Republicans with districts where the wall would be built seem less-than-enthused about the plan to put the barrier there.
Rep. Will Hurd (R-Tex.), whose district spans 800 miles of the Texas-Mexico border (about 40 percent of the entire southern border), was downright hostile about the idea.
“The facts have not changed,” he said in a statement released Wednesday. “Building a wall is the most expensive and least effective way to secure the border.”
Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), the chair of a congressional subcommittee that oversees border security, gave hesitant praise for Trump's executive order asking the federal government to create more detention centers and beef up federal patrols of the border. “This order is a strong start in the right direction,” she said in a statement Thursday.
But her evaluation of the centerpiece of Trump's border security plan was decidedly 'meh': “When it comes to barriers, they are important where appropriate, but only part of the equation.”
Put another way, lawmakers who represent a sizable chunk of the U.S.-Mexico border don't think Trump's wall will solve or even significantly alleviate illegal immigration.
When viewed through a political lens, we can see why.
Hurd and McSally represent two of the swingiest districts in the nation. McSally's is more than a quarter Latino, while Hurd's is 71 percent Latino. Hurd won reelection in November with just 49 percent of the vote and McSally won her 2014 election by less than 200 votes.
Voting to fund a wall that could cost as much as $25 billion risks pinning lawmakers — particularly those with border districts like Hurd and McSally — up … against a wall.
The proposed wall carries with it a tough immigration political message that is despised by many Latinos, 71 percent of whom have an unfavorable view of Trump in a January Washington Post-ABC News poll.
And the enormity of the wall's expense also has the potential to agitate fiscally minded conservatives, especially with the U.S. deficit and debt projected to spike in the next year.
These two GOP members of Congress aren't the only ones questioning Trump's border wall strategy. In his confirmation hearing earlier this month, Trump's Homeland Security Secretary retired Gen. John F. Kelly, said “A physical barrier in and of itself … will not do the job.”
When the Texas Tribune surveyed all 38 Texans in Congress (Texas has the longest border with Mexico of any state), reporter Abby Livingston found not one “offered full-throated support of a complete border wall.”
Through a spokeswoman, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.) told Livingston he thought Trump's wall was “an analogy.”
Tell that to the GOP leadership. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) confirmed Thursday at the congressional Republicans' retreat in Philadelphia that they're pursuing plans to build it, or at least constructing some kind of barrier along the entire border — whether or not Mexico agrees to pay for it.