Politics & Government

‘We cannot protect the border with concrete.’ SC Congressman pushes for ‘smart wall’

Here are 8 design options for Trump’s border wall

Four weeks into the Border Wall Prototype Construction Project, eight new wall prototypes were constructed near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry as of October 19. This aerial view shows the walls being built. Otay Mesa is a community in San Diego.
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Four weeks into the Border Wall Prototype Construction Project, eight new wall prototypes were constructed near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry as of October 19. This aerial view shows the walls being built. Otay Mesa is a community in San Diego.

As the federal government shutdown inches toward completing its third week, one of South Carolina’s congressmen proposed an alternative to President Donald Trump’s border wall.

In an interview on CNN, House Majority Whip James Clyburn said Democrats have been discussing the possibility of a “smart wall” at the border.

The high-tech “wall” would use modern technology such as drones to police the United State’s southern border, Clyburn said in the Wednesday interview.

“We cannot protect the border with concrete,” Clyburn said. “We can protect the border using the technology that’s available to us to wall off intrusions by using that technology.”

Clyburn made clear that he would not support erecting any more physical barriers or fences, but he would be open to allocating funds to replace areas of the current fence that need repair, he said.

Though spending bills to refund the government have reached various stages, Trump has repeatedly rejected them, calling for more than $5 billion to build a physical barrier or wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. The wall was a hallmark of his 2016 campaign.

Tuesday night, Trump made a prime-time appearance across news networks to appeal to American citizens and again call for a bill to reopen the government that includes money for border security. In a rebuttal directly after the president’s speech, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accused Trump of trying to stoke fear.

“We can secure our border without an expensive, ineffective wall. And we can welcome legal immigrants and refugees without compromising safety and security,” Schumer said. “The symbol of America should be the Statue of Liberty, not a 30-foot wall.”

Clyburn also sounded off on the oval office speech.

“We saw a reckless president morph into a feckless president,” the South Carolina Congressman said.

The congressman also poked at his Republican counterparts for supporting building the wall, which would require the government to purchase property along the border using eminent domain in some cases.

“It’s kind of interesting to me that my Republican friends have been talking about eminent domain being such an intrusion on peoples’ freedoms,” Clyburn said. “We cannot build a wall without eminent domain taking peoples’ property, and that’s not the way we ought to go.”

Ongoing talks on reopening the government between parties have not gone well. On Wednesday, Trump walked out of a meeting with Pelosi and Schumer after the Democrats reconfirmed that they would not support a border. Trump called the meeting “a total waste of time,” in a tweet.

“I asked what is going to happen in 30 days if I quickly open things up, are you going to approve Border Security which includes a Wall or Steel Barrier? Nancy said, NO. I said bye-bye, nothing else works!” Trump tweeted after the meeting.

Clyburn said he thinks an end to the shutdown will come soon.

“I think we’re very close to a deal,” he said. “... I think that in the not too distant future, the Senate will act and the president will react in a positive way.”

Emily Bohatch helps cover South Carolina’s government for The State. She also updates The State’s databases. Her accomplishments include winning a Green Eyeshade award in Disaster Reporting in 2018 for her teamwork reporting on Hurricane Irma. She has a degree in Journalism with a minor in Spanish from Ohio University’s E. W. Scripps School of Journalism.


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