Lawmakers were expected to begin their negotiations Wednesday.
“Really the only thing we’re debating is how we fund border security,” Roe, R-Tenn., said in a Tuesday conference call with reporters. “I don’t know how that negotiation is going to turn out. … This one, because it’s become so politicized, I have to say that I am probably less than 50 percent sure this will get through. … People have dug themselves and painted themselves into corners. I don’t see how they get out of it, but at least we are at the negotiating table.”
The 35-day partial government shutdown, said Roe, happened because Democrats and Republicans were divided over border security.
“The experts, that is the people who are down there at the border, told the president we need $5.7 billion to do the following things: one, a barrier; two, hire more agents; three was to provide more funding for humanitarian aid; and four was to increase the number of beds we have. We’re just being overwhelmed by the number of people that they have to take care of. We’re required by law to do that in this country,” Roe said. “We would also hire more judges to decide on requests for asylum. … Right now, we have 800,000 people who are backlogged to get in front of a judge to be able to make a decision about their asylum claims.
“There is no question in my mind that barriers work. … (House Speaker Nancy) Pelosi voted in 2007 for border fencing, now she’s changed her mind.”
Roe also addressed these questions:
You don’t sound optimistic a border deal will get done. Is that correct?
“My concern is political positions people have taken that don’t allow them a way out. You’ve made promises to get votes, and it concerns me people have put themselves in a corner. I don’t see a way out without breaking a promise. … The president ran on that (border security) and he’s made the case.”
Do you support the president’s idea of declaring a national emergency if Congress can’t come to an agreement on border security?
“It’s costing us a horrific amount of money not to have a barrier, not to secure our borders. We’re paying now. Today in our (House GOP) conference, three people stood up, and I could have done it, too, and talked about citizens in their own districts that were killed by illegal immigration. We need to do this. We need to do it legislatively. Congress needs to function.”
What was the economic impact of the shutdown in the 1st Congressional District?
“I don’t have a number. I know that the biggest one would have been in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It went ahead and functioned. … The Friends of the Smokies kept the park open, removed the trash. … The park never closed.”
The polls indicate people support border security but they oppose a wall. Those who oppose a wall support enhanced technology. Why is there so much hesitancy to support a technological solution?
“What Customs and Border Patrol told me was (a wall) slows people down, and it forces them into areas they can more easily manage. It gives them time to do their job. They need more agents. … Every place a barrier is used, illegal immigration went down more than 90 percent.”