Congressman Richard Neal criticizes plan for Mexican border wall

  • Congressman Richard E. Neal, D-Mass., visited South Texas Friday to tour the U.S.-Mexico border with a congressional delegation. He was joined by U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Texas, U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-New York, and representatives of the Sierra Club at a portion of the border wall outside Brownsville, Texas. U.S. Rep. Richard Neal

@HughesMorgan_
Published: 2/24/2017 11:31:23 PM

After returning from a Friday visit to an existing Mexico-U.S. border fence in Brownsville, Texas, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal said he does not see the value in the president’s plan to build a wall at the border.

The Springfield Democrat traveled to Texas Friday with Congressmen Filemon Vela, D-Texas, and Hakeem Jeffries, D-New York, to tour part of the 1,900-mile border that the U.S. shares with Mexico.

Speaking with reporters from Brownsville, Neal said he is against funding President Donald Trump’s border wall. He added that his trip to Texas reinforced his opinion that plans for the wall are unorganized and “ill-considered.”

“I didn’t see anything today that would have me change my mind,” Neal said.

While Neal agreed border security is important, he said that guest worker initiatives that would allow Mexican immigrants to come and work legally in the U.S. and at some point return to their home country would be a better alternative.

“I think that a wall is not going to stop bad guys,” Neal said. “It’s pretty obvious that there is a lack of organized thought.”

Neal also said he feels that immigrants who have not committed a felony should not be on priority lists for deportation, and suggested that there needs to be more discussion around solutions to border security.

“The cost-benefit ratio would have to be established, and I think that could cause some heartburn with some Republican members of Congress,” he said.

Trump recently said at the Conservative Political Action Conference that the wall is “going to start soon” and is “way ahead of schedule.”

Neal disputed this speculation. “It would be hard to suggest it’s ahead of schedule,” he said.

Neal cited how the Massachusetts Institute of Technology estimated that a 50-foot tall concrete wall reinforced by steel with 10 feet below the ground, stretching 1,000 miles instead of the complete length of the Mexican border, would cost up to $40 billion.

He also noted that the number of people attempting to illegally cross the border has decreased. According to Pew Research Center, unauthorized immigration has been slowly decreasing since 2006 after a sharp increase from 1990 to 2005.

Morgan Hughes can be reached at mahughes@umass.edu.




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