Rep. Scott Peters calls Trump's border wall 'borderline crazy' in national address

Amid a 21-day government shutdown, Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, delivered the Democrat’s Weekly Address Friday afternoon expressing his support for border security and strongly criticizing President Donald Trump’s demand for an extended border wall.

He called on the president and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to reopen the government while both sides discuss other border security measures.

“When President Trump says Democrats are against border security and for open borders, he’s lying,” Peters said in the five-minute video. “We do not support a multi-billion dollar wall that will destroy sensitive lands, take private property and can be tunneled under, climbed over or cut through, all while illegal border crossings have steadily declined over the past two decades.

“No, that’s not border security. That’s borderline crazy,” he continued.

Peters pointed to bipartisan legislation proposed last session that would have directed Homeland Security to conduct a mile-by-mile assessment of the entire southern border, then propose a strategy to Congress for each section of the border. He said that this strategy could have been state-of-the-art technologies to detect tunnels, cameras mounted on drones, sensors, radar and even physical barriers in some places if Homeland Security could justify the cost.

Republican House leadership never brought that legislation — supported by 193 Democrats and 23 Republicans — to the floor for a vote.

Peters also further channeled his own direct experience as a border representative, highlighting the bipartisan effort from San Diego’s delegation several years ago that led to investment in modernizing the San Ysidro Port of Entry — a measure he said helped the region’s economic activity and safety.

“Our nation’s investments in Ports of Entry support a thriving international economy...They also provide critical border security,” Peters said while praising the work customs agents do inspecting vehicles and bags, verifying identification and visas and screening people before they enter the U.S. “Agents at our ports everyday arrest criminals, seize narcotics and guns and deny admission to people they identify as a threat to national security.

“That’s what real border security looks like, and I can tell you that San Diegans want that border security. But we do not want a wall,” he continued.

Peters claimed the president wasted millions of taxpayer dollars by sending troops to the border as a political stunt and worsened the challenges for asylum-seeking families by ending a policy of assisting them in connecting to their sponsors in the U.S.

“There is a humanitarian crisis created by him… And there is a crisis, when a government shutdown means that 800,000 federal workers are denied a paycheck this week, and now can’t pay their mortgage or rent, student loans, or medical expenses, hurting their credit rating because our President won’t budge on his impossible wall,” Peters said. “Mr. President, Senator McConnell, Democrats have laid out for you several border security measures we can all get behind… Let’s re-open the government and talk about these ideas and quit holding the paychecks of 800,000 federal workers hostage to a wall that is never going to get built.”

In recent history it is common practice for each party to have a prominent party figure deliver their own weekly address while their party is not in control of the presidency. Traditionally, this was delivered in response to a president’s weekly address — a practice started regularly by Ronald Reagan but halted all together by Trump in June.

Democrats have however continued the practice and this week’s address — occurring amid ever-growing concern around the government shutdown over Trump’s demand for border wall funding — saw party leaders tap Peters to offer his perspective.

Peters was comfortably re-elected in November to a fourth-term representing California’s 52nd Congressional District, which encompasses parts of coastal and central San Diego including downtown, La Jolla, Point Loma, Coronado and Poway. The district is the most evenly split of San Diego’s congressional districts in terms of registration numbers with 122,879 registered Republicans and 149,141 registered Democrats as of the end of December.

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