Sen. John Kennedy (R., La.) on Wednesday said President Donald Trump is under fire for challenging Washington’s laxity on border security.
Kennedy characterized Trump’s insistence on funding for a border wall as a commitment to border security that national leaders have not had for decades.
"Let me tell you what Trump’s sin is: for the first time in 20 years he's enforcing America's immigration laws," Kennedy said. "For 15, 20 years we’ve had a bipartisan refusal up here by both big-government Republicans and Ritz-Carlton Democrats to refuse to enforce America's immigration laws, and Trump said, ‘Well by god, I'm going to enforce the law.’ And all of a sudden, he's Satan. And I think the American people see through it."
The federal government remains in a partial shutdown after weeks of conflict over whether to budget for building more barriers along the southern border with Mexico. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has refused to fund more than "one dollar" for the wall because it is immoral, but Trump has said it’s absolutely necessary for national security.
Kennedy said he supports legal immigration but called for getting tough on illegal border crossings, disagreeing strongly with the argument that border walls don’t work.
"One way to stop illegal immigration is a border wall," he said. "We know that because we have one in San Diego, and Yuma, and El Paso, and on the West Bank in Israel, and in Hungary and in Saudi Arabia and in Bulgaria, and I could keep going. Border barriers work. Duh."
Fox Business anchor Stuart Varney inquired about Republican senators’ commitment to the president’s hard line, and Kennedy said it was not clear despite the transparent nature of the issue.
"We have some that are wavering. I don't want to impugn the motives of my colleagues, but my attitude is, speaking just for me, you either believe in border security or you don't," Kennedy said.