What Changed?

On December 26th, Byron York posted an article at The Washington Examiner about building a border wall (or border fence).

The article reports:

In 2006 Congress passed the Secure Fence Act, which mandated the construction of multilayer pedestrian fencing along about 600 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. It passed with big, bipartisan majorities: 283 votes in the House and 80 in the Senate. Some top Democrats who are still in the Senate today supported the fence: Chuck Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, Ron Wyden, Debbie Stabenow, and Sherrod Brown.

Just the next year, Congress made clear it didn’t really mean what it said. The new law was amended to make fence building optional.

In 2013, Congress got back into the fence game. The Gang of Eight comprehensive immigration reform bill included something called the “Southern Border Fencing Strategy.” It called for 700 miles of at least single-layer pedestrian fencing along the border. It wasn’t a standalone measure; the fence was to be part of a broader package of border security measures alongside provisions that would create a process by which the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants would ultimately gain a path to citizenship.

I wonder if the Democrats would be so anxious to provide a path to citizenship for illegals if the illegals who were granted citizenship were not allowed to vote for ten years or so.

The article lists the Senators who voted for the Southern Border Fencing Strategy:

With citizenship in the deal — even citizenship that would take a decade to achieve in some cases — Democrats were fully on board for a border barrier. The Gang of Eight bill passed in the Senate with 68 votes, including unanimous Democratic support. Name any Democrat who is in the Senate today who was there for that 2013 vote — Schumer, Durbin, Murray, Baldwin, Bennet, Blumenthal, Brown, Cantwell, Cardin, Casey, Coons, Feinstein, Gillibrand, Hirono, Kaine, Klobuchar, Leahy, Manchin, Menendez, Merkley, Murphy, Reed, Sanders, Shaheen, Stabenow, Tester, Warner, Warren, Whitehouse, Wyden — name any, and they voted for the bill that included the Southern Border Fencing Strategy.

Now the government is 1/4 shut down (not necessarily a bad thing) because those same Senators oppose building a border wall (which they can call a fence if they like). What changed?

It’s Amazing How Things Change

This is a description of a bill passed in 2006. (Information on any Congressional legislation can be found at Thomas.gov).

Thomas.gov reports:

H.R.6061 – Secure Fence Act of 2006    109th Congress (2005-2006)

Shown Here:
Public Law No: 109-367 (10/26/2006)

(This measure has not been amended since it was passed by the House on September 14, 2006. The summary of that version is repeated here.)

Secure Fence Act of 2006 – Directs the Secretary of Homeland Security, within 18 months of enactment of this Act, to take appropriate actions to achieve operational control over U.S. international land and maritime borders, including: (1) systematic border surveillance through more effective use of personnel and technology, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, ground-based sensors, satellites, radar coverage, and cameras; and (2) physical infrastructure enhancements to prevent unlawful border entry and facilitate border access by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, such as additional checkpoints, all weather access roads, and vehicle barriers.

Defines “operational control” as the prevention of all unlawful U.S. entries, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, instruments of terrorism, narcotics, and other contraband.

Directs the Secretary to report annually to Congress on border control progress.

Amends the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to direct the Secretary to provide at least two layers of reinforced fencing, installation of additional physical barriers, roads, lighting, cameras, and sensors extending: (1) from ten miles west of the Tecate, California, port of entry to ten miles east of the Tecate, California, port of entry; (2) from ten miles west of the Calexico, California, port of entry to five miles east of the Douglas, Arizona, port of entry (requiring installation of an interlocking surveillance camera system by May 30, 2007, and fence completion by May 30, 2008); (3) from five miles west of the Columbus, New Mexico, port of entry to ten miles east of El Paso, Texas; (4) from five miles northwest of the Del Rio, Texas, port of entry to five miles southeast of the Eagle Pass, Texas, port of entry; and (5) 15 miles northwest of the Laredo, Texas, port of entry to the Brownsville, Texas, port of entry (requiring fence completion from 15 miles northwest of the Laredo, Texas, port of entry to 15 southeast of the Laredo, Texas, port of entry by December 31, 2008).

States that if an area has an elevation grade exceeding 10% the Secretary may use other means to secure such area, including surveillance and barrier tools.

Directs the Secretary to: (1) study and report to the House Committee on Homeland Security and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on the necessity, feasibility, and economic impact of constructing a state-of-the-art infrastructure security system along the U.S. northern international land and maritime border; and (2) evaluate and report to such Committees on U.S. Customs and Border Protection authority (and possible expansion of authority) to stop fleeing vehicles that enter the United States illegally, including related training, technology, and equipment reviews.

This is the vote in the Senate:

Alphabetical by Senator Name

Akaka (D-HI), Nay
Alexander (R-TN), Yea
Allard (R-CO), Yea
Allen (R-VA), Yea
Baucus (D-MT), Yea
Bayh (D-IN), Yea
Bennett (R-UT), Yea
Biden (D-DE), Yea
Bingaman (D-NM), Nay
Bond (R-MO), Yea
Boxer (D-CA), Yea
Brownback (R-KS), Yea
Bunning (R-KY), Yea
Burns (R-MT), Yea
Burr (R-NC), Yea
Byrd (D-WV), Yea
Cantwell (D-WA), Nay
Carper (D-DE), Yea
Chafee (R-RI), Nay
Chambliss (R-GA), Yea
Clinton (D-NY), Yea
Coburn (R-OK), Yea
Cochran (R-MS), Yea
Coleman (R-MN), Yea
Collins (R-ME), Yea
Conrad (D-ND), Yea
Cornyn (R-TX), Yea
Craig (R-ID), Yea
Crapo (R-ID), Yea
Dayton (D-MN), Yea
DeMint (R-SC), Yea
DeWine (R-OH), Yea
Dodd (D-CT), Yea
Dole (R-NC), Yea
Domenici (R-NM), Yea
Dorgan (D-ND), Yea
Durbin (D-IL), Nay
Ensign (R-NV), Yea
Enzi (R-WY), Yea
Feingold (D-WI), Nay
Feinstein (D-CA), Yea
Frist (R-TN), Yea
Graham (R-SC), Yea
Grassley (R-IA), Yea
Gregg (R-NH), Yea
Hagel (R-NE), Yea
Harkin (D-IA), Yea
Hatch (R-UT), Yea
Hutchison (R-TX), Yea
Inhofe (R-OK), Yea
Inouye (D-HI), Nay
Isakson (R-GA), Yea
Jeffords (I-VT), Nay
Johnson (D-SD), Yea
Kennedy (D-MA), Not Voting
Kerry (D-MA), Nay
Kohl (D-WI), Yea
Kyl (R-AZ), Yea
Landrieu (D-LA), Yea
Lautenberg (D-NJ), Nay
Leahy (D-VT), Nay
Levin (D-MI), Nay
Lieberman (D-CT), Nay
Lincoln (D-AR), Yea
Lott (R-MS), Yea
Lugar (R-IN), Yea
Martinez (R-FL), Yea
McCain (R-AZ), Yea
McConnell (R-KY), Yea
Menendez (D-NJ), Nay
Mikulski (D-MD), Yea
Murkowski (R-AK), Yea
Murray (D-WA), Nay
Nelson (D-FL), Yea
Nelson (D-NE), Yea
Obama (D-IL), Yea
Pryor (D-AR), Yea
Reed (D-RI), Nay
Reid (D-NV), Nay
Roberts (R-KS), Yea
Rockefeller (D-WV), Yea
Salazar (D-CO), Nay
Santorum (R-PA), Yea
Sarbanes (D-MD), Nay
Schumer (D-NY), Yea
Sessions (R-AL), Yea
Shelby (R-AL), Yea
Smith (R-OR), Yea
Snowe (R-ME), Yea
Specter (R-PA), Yea
Stabenow (D-MI), Yea
Stevens (R-AK), Yea
Sununu (R-NH), Yea
Talent (R-MO), Yea
Thomas (R-WY), Yea
Thune (R-SD), Yea
Vitter (R-LA), Yea
Voinovich (R-OH), Yea
Warner (R-VA), Yea
Wyden (D-OR), Yea

Note that Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama voted to build the fence. Before the Democrats decided to make the border fence a political issue, they supported a border fence because they understood that it was necessary for national security. Unfortunately some time between 2006 and 2016 the Democrats chose to put party politics above national security. The border fence was never built, but the authorization is still there. It will be interesting to see if President Trump takes advantage of that authorization.