A few hours into the government shutdown, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer declared with self-assured bombast that President Trump “must abandon the wall” in order to get government running at full steam.
Noting the inability of Senate Republicans to garner the 60 votes needed to approve any bill with more than $1.3 billion in border wall funding, the New York Democrat boasted, “It will never pass the Senate. Not today, not next week, not next year.”
How times have changed. Even in a short period of time. Today, Schumer and Democrats repulse at the notion of spending $5 billion for a border wall, but last January spending $25 billion in exchange for amnesty for DACA beneficiaries was an idea worth considering? Well, it was until the radical activists within his party created a firestorm.
The fact is that Democrats today and the special interests to whom they pander bear no resemblance to the Democrats who backed a deal – albeit a bad one – on immigration in 2013.
The first glimmer of hope of border security came when Congress passed the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which put $1 billion into constructing a high-tech fence. But that was short-lived as the Obama administration killed the effort in 2011.
Two years later, a bipartisan group of senators, known as the Gang of Eight, worked out a “compromise” bill that included a commitment to build 700 mile barrier along the southern border.
During the Senate debate of the bill, Schumer demonstrated what has become a trademark quality – the willingness to adopt contradictory positions to suit his current needs.
On June 12, 2013, Schumer voiced opposition to adding 10,000 Border Patrol agents because, he claimed, they were an “unnecessary expense” that were less efficient than “drones and the helicopters.”
Nine days later, according to the Center for Immigration Studies, Schumer supported an amendment to “double the size of Border Patrol agents from its current level to over 40,000.”
In the end, Schumer pushed for the “border surge plan” because, he said, it would be “a breathtaking show of force that will discourage future waves of illegal immigration.” Furthermore, he added, the bill “not only calls for finishing a literal fence, it will create a virtual human fence of Border Patrol agents.”
In the end, all Senate Democrats voted to pass it.
The Gang of Eight, led by Schumer and the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), thankfully failed to fool the Republican-led House which declined to consider the bill . Today, Schumer stands as the leader of his party in the Senate and refuses to even consider appropriating any money toward an actual physical wall, fence or barrier.
While Schumer and his party have changed their position on border security to appease their base, the truth of what is needed to ensure a secure border have not.
As columnist Charles Krauthammer rightly stated when advocating for a “low-tech” fence in January 2013, “There’s a reason people have been building fences for, oh, 5,000 years. They work.”