Dems change tune on border wall, after backing barrier under Obama

Five years ago, the entire Senate Democratic caucus voted for hundreds of miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border.

How times have changed.

Democrats are now blasting President Trump's border wall demands as “ineffective” and “unreasonable,” as they battle his initial $18 billion request.

And Republicans, along with other border-security advocates, are countering by accusing Democrats of flipping their position now that Trump is president.

“What we’re seeing right now is the height of hypocrisy from the Democrats, when the Democrats in 2013 wanted the immigration reform,” President of the National Border Patrol Council Brandon Judd said Tuesday on “Fox & Friends First.” “The only thing that’s changed is we now have Trump sitting in the White House instead of Obama in the White House and all of a sudden they’re against it.”

The circumstances in 2013 and 2018 do hold some differences.

Not only was Barack Obama president in 2013, but the bill voted on in June of that year -- the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act -- was pitched as a sweeping immigration reform.

On the security side, the bill called for the deployment of an additional 700 miles of fencing and technology along the U.S.-Mexico border – the same area Trump’s border wall would cover. The plan also devoted $40 billion over a decade to border enforcement measures and would double the number of border agents. On the other side, the bill made a host of visa reforms and offered a path to legal status for some illegal immigrants.

This time, the White House mainly wants a border wall, while Democrats mainly want to help the Dreamers, young illegal immigrants whose "DACA" protection ends in March.

The Trump administration, however, sees potential for trade-offs. They kicked off immigration talks at the White House Tuesday, with an eye toward making a deal that would cover border security and potentially other reforms that could entice Democrats.

Border wall prototype for the U.S.-Mexico border.

Border wall prototype for the U.S.-Mexico border. (AP)

Critics are openly asking why Democrats are so vocally opposed to concessions on the border barrier now, if they were willing to support it in 2013.

Judd noted that Democrats refer to the border wall as “anti-immigrant.”

“So were they anti-immigrant in 2013?” Judd said. “That is where the hypocrisy comes in and that is what the American people are tired of. They’re tired of all of this deadlock and they’re tired of politicians playing politics with their safety and security.”

Border wall prototype for the U.S.-Mexico border.

Border wall prototype for the U.S.-Mexico border. (AP)

The Republican National Committee also sent out a release over the weekend, reminding Democrats of their voting history on immigration reform.

“Don’t let Democrats forget their long history of supporting many of the same measure President Trump is championing today,” an RNC spokesperson said.

The RNC pointed to the vote in 2013 and a vote in 2006, where prominent Democrats voted in favor of a physical barrier along the southern border.

All 52 Democrats, plus Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Angus King, I-Maine, voted in favor of the 2013 bill, which died in the House. And in 2006, Democrats like then-Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., Joe Biden, D-Del., and current Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., voted in favor of the Secure Fence Act, which would add “two layers of reinforced fencing, installation of additional physical barriers” to ports of entry along the southern border.

This is not the first time Democrats have backed off policies now supported by the Trump White House. Many Democrats initially supported the move of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jersulaem, but when Trump announced his position, Democrats decried it.


“They all voted for a border barrier –a hard physical border barrier back in 2006, the Secure Fence Act,” White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller said on Fox News' “Tucker Carlson Tonight” Monday, listing Obama, Clinton, and Biden. “So that’s a new position they apparently have if they’re opposed to any sort of [barriers].”

When asked for comment about their 2013 support, Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and others did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

But Schumer argued that the 2013 proposal was much different than what’s on the table now, saying that it addressed the illegal immigrant population of 11 million people, whereas Democrats plan on “only addressing Dreamers” in current talks.

“We’d be glad to do comprehensive immigration reform, like the Senate bill from 2013, that has more of what both sides want but that will take time,” Schumer said in a statement to Fox News. “There is an immediate need to protect the DACA recipients, so the deal will be more narrow than that.”