Doug Jones ‘optimistic’ about good-faith efforts to end shutdown; Says ‘the issue for border security is not a wall’
HUNTSVILLE – With the total number of people affected by the federal government shutdown estimated to be in the thousands in North Alabama, Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) hosted a town hall meeting in the Rocket City to discuss with constituents efforts to find a solution.
A crowd of nearly 300 packed the University of Alabama in Huntsville’s Charger Union Theater — some to express their displeasure over the shutdown and others to ask Jones to sound off on issues of the day.
Jones reacted to the proposal President Donald Trump offered, money for the border wall in exchange for three years of legal status for the so-called DREAMers and called that a “good faith” effort.
Alabama’s junior U.S. Senator called for a reopening of the government, and then negotiations could take place to resolve differences ultimately.
“The only way I’m viewing this, and it’s the only way I can optimistically view this is saying the president is demonstrating that he in good faith will talk about border security and a bigger issue. And the House Democrats – who have been just as entrenched and are nothing until we open the government – are saying, ‘OK, we want to talk, too,’ in good faith. So my point of all that is this: As you’re talking to the media, as you’re talking to people, or as you write your senators or your congressman or whoever, talk about the fact this is good-faith movement.”
“Let’s do this: Let’s take that for what it is – as good faith on everyone’s part, and let’s open this government up tomorrow,” he continued. “Let’s open it up tomorrow and let these people talk because it’s going to take a while to get to where we really need to be and get that issue resolved. But while we’re doing it, and we’re doing it in good faith. If it takes one week, great. If it takes a month, fine, but let’s open the government up and continue to talk.”
Jones also addressed border security and said a focus should be on ports of entry.
“I will tell you, from my standpoint I recognize that our borders are not as secure as they need to be,” Jones said. “We need to fortify those borders some. It’s not feasible. I don’t think anybody believes we’re going to put a 2,000-mile 30-foot wall, you know, across our southern border. There is so much misinformation that has come out about drugs, things like that. You know, the drugs are not coming across our border on mules, or in a knapsack across a remote area. They’re coming across ports of entry – not all, but that’s where most of them are coming across, at least from the southern border. There’s a lot of misinformation. There’s a lot of misinformation about effective a so-called wall would be. The border security agents will tell you they don’t want a concrete wall. They want to be able to see what’s on the other side. And if you watched the news, you see it’s not too hard to dig under walls.”
“The issue for border security is not a wall,” he added. “It’s the best effective way we can spend your money to try to secure the borders the best we can with technology, barrier, with additional agents. We can stop the backlog of immigration cases because so many people today, as opposed to 15 or 20 years ago, when border apprehensions were at about a 1.6 million a year – they’re down to around 300,000 now.”
Following the event, Jones elaborated on the “good faith” aspect during a gaggle with reporters.
“I think anything needs to be considered,” Jones said to Yellowhammer News. “What I said is I take that as a movement that he is willing to sit down in good faith and talk about this. The problem is going to be this – and likewise, the problem with the $1 billion the Democrats in the House are putting forward, which doesn’t contain any kind of border wall is still a good faith effort to try and find common ground on an important issue.
“The president keeps talking about a wall, but he’s never sent over to Congress in this shutdown what he’s talking about,” Jones said. “I hear it off of Twitter. I hear it in the media. But I’ve never seen what he’s talking about. I don’t think he is talking about a concrete wall that is 2,000 miles long. That would cost a lot more than the money he is asking for. So one of the things I’ve been asking for is show me the plan. How are you going to spend it? If he was just wanting to build barracks at military installations around the country, he’d give me a plan for it to exactly how they’re going to go and what they’re going to do. We haven’t seen that. That’s part of the problem now – I want to get back to the Senate’s regular order. Put that plan in front of a Senate committee. Let them talk about it. See what works, what doesn’t work. Find that common ground. That’s the main thing.”
Jones identified technology – sensors, drones, etc. – as another element for bolstering border security.