Flashback: Democrats Supported the U.S. Border Fence Before They Were Against It

January 6, 2017

Democratic members of Congress have been critical of President-elect Donald Trump's anti-illegal immigration proposal of building a wall on the Mexico-United States border since he proposed it on the campaign trail in the fall of 2015, but several Democrats voted in support of similar legislation in 2006.

Rep. Peter King (R., N.Y.) proposed the Secure Fence Act of 2006 legislation to help secure the America's borders to help minimize drug trafficking and immigrants from illegally entering the United States by building 700 miles of physical barriers along the border.

While there were some Democrats who opposed the legislation due to cost restraints and concerns about the environmental impact of the fence, several prominent Democrats supported the legislation in the Senate, including Sen. Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.), former Sen. Barack Obama (D., Ill.), and former Sen. Hillary Clinton (D., N.Y.).

Boxer, who has been critical of Trump's wall proposal, spoke on the Senate floor in September 2006 where she defended building a fence on the border. " I don't oppose building a fence where you need to do it where the border is poorest. I just don't have a problem with that," Boxer said.

Obama also supported building a fence on the southern border of the United States. While Obama didn't believe the fence was a permanent solution, he did believe that it would provide better security along the border. Regarding the Secure Fence Act, Obama said in September 2006 that "the bill before us will certainly do some good. It will authorize some badly needed funding for better fences and better security along our borders and that should help stem some of the tide of illegal immigration in this country." In addition to this clip, Wikileaks leaked an internal memo last November from Obama's 2008 presidential campaign that revealed his support for fencing along the border, according to the Daily Caller.

"Additional fencing on the border is not a comprehensive solution, but it sometimes helps deter people from taking the risk of entering illegally," the memo states.

The memo also says that Obama "Believes fencing should be built where necessary and agreed to in coordination with local governments, Indian tribes and done in an environmentally sensitive manner."

Obama, according to the memo, "Supports additional personnel, infrastructure, and technology on the border and at our ports of entry." Additionally, Obama "Believes we need additional Customs and Border Protection agents with better technology and real-time intelligence."

Clinton, who was critical of Trump's plan during the presidential campaign this past year, also supported fencing along the border and bragged as recently as November 2015 about her previous votes as senator on the issue. At a campaign event in New Hampshire, a woman asked Clinton about securing the border from illegal immigrants.

"Well, look I voted numerous times when I was a Senator to spend money to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in and I do think you have to control your borders," Clinton said.

Other notable Democratic Senators who supported the legislation include Vice President Joe Biden (Del.), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.), and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y).