Bipartisan group of lawmakers tour San Diego border wall, react to cancelled construction

OTAY MESA (KUSI) – During April 2021, Border Patrol apprehended a record-breaking 172,331 migrants. It comes as the Biden administration formally moves forward with cancelling all military-funded border wall construction. A group of bipartisan lawmakers toured the southern border to see firsthand the reaction from agents directly impacted by the decision.

“This is simply a protected fence that allows the border patrol to do their job more safely,” said Congressman Darrell Issa who represents San Diego’s 50th congressional district. “We should argue over immigration reform, but we should not argue over the enforcement of the Border Patrol Agents and for the safety of the people who come here.”

He brought with him Rep. Jay Obernolte who covers California’s 8th District, and Escondido Mayor Paul McNamara. 

“I’m struck by the complexity of the problem and how’s there’s no simple solution,” McNamara said. “I’m like every other taxpayer. I hate to see something like this paid for and not completed. We want the rule of law but we don’t want to lose our compassion in the process.”

Elected officials invited by Issa had the chance to speak with CBP agents who admitted that not finishing construction on the border wall and not funding the electricity to properly secure the fencing areas would make their job more difficult.

“We’ve seen huge stockpiles of materials for finishing the fence, gaping holes in the fence that are just waiting to be finished and I’m sure could be up in a matter of days if we had the moral authority to do it,” Obernolte  said.

McNamara said that finding real solutions that have plagued the country for decades would take both sides sitting down and having tough conversations about what reform looks like.

“If we want to solve this issue we need both sides to talk about it and have a very candid conversation,” McNamara said. “You can’t just talk about a part of a problem with a part of a solution, you really need to talk about it in a holistic way.”

Issa said more needs to be done to hold the Biden administration accountable for creating what he feels is an open door policy.

“There’s a right way to do it but demoralizing the Border Patrol agents, asking them to be at greater risk and having a process of self-selected illegal immigration, rather than a process for those that apply, that’s just not the right way,” Issa said. 

It’s still unclear just how much money will be diverted from construction at the border wall but the Department of Defense said the military funds will be deferred to other projects. DOD added that they would review lists of projects like funding schools for military children or projects overseas.

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