Congressman Steve King advocates building a concrete wall along the U.S./Mexico border and while he’s supporting President Bush’s plan to send six-thousand National Guard troops to secure that two-thousand mile border, King would prefer full-time military people on that duty rather than part-time Guard soldiers. “Sending our guard down there is a last-ditch effort here,” King says.
King visited with guard troops along the border last year and he believes that if troops are deployed they need to have weapons which those guard soldiers did not have. King just spent three days along the Arizona/Mexico border with border patrols and Native Americans policing a strip of the border, a trip that King says persuaded him the chain-link fence he had envisioned as a means of securing the border wouldn’t be enough.
King says he sat along the border in the dark and listened to the illegal immigrants cross into the U.S. “We’re not going to be able to stop that traffic if we don’t build a wall,” he says. King estimates a concrete wall would cost a lot less in the long run. “I’ve spent my life in the construction business and we’ve poured a fair amount of concrete and it looks to me like we’re asking for 6 billion dollars to defend our southern border for the 2007 year and that comes to 3 million dollars a mile,” King says. “I am very confident that we can built a good, solid barrier of a concrete-style wall for far less than 3 million dollars a mile, we can build four-lane interstates for that kind of money.”
King rejects critics who say this is a country that tears down walls rather than builds walls. King says it would be a wall to keep people out, not like the Berlin Wall that kept people in the former Soviet republic of East Germany.
King, who is a Republican like the president, believes last night’s presidential address was an attempt by President Bush to build support in congress for his proposal to let “guest workers” get on a track to legal U.S. citizenship. “I think the president’s out of touch with the America people on this issue and out of touch with the party as well,” King says.
King says only nine percent of Americans support the president’s border security policy and only 13 percent believe the president’s overall immigration policy is on track. The Republican-led U.S. House is with the American people, according to King, because they’ve passed a bill that would make it a felony to be in the country illegally.
King says senators are “deluding themselves” if they think they can “pander” to both sides in the immigration debate. “The American people are not going to fall for that,” King says. King suggests that President Bush should spent the remaining two-and-a-half years of his term securing the border and let the next president devise new immigration policy.