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Republican lawmakers say "walls work" after touring southern border

Border fence in Nogales
Posted at 7:25 PM, Feb 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-04 22:25:25-05

SAN YSIDRO, Calif. (KGTV) -- Republican lawmakers toured San Diego's border with Mexico Monday afternoon.

Representative Kay Granger of Texas was joined by representatives Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee and Steven Palazzo of Mississippi. The lawmakers are part of a bipartisan conference committee set up to come up with a compromise on border funding that will clear both chambers of congress and get the president's signature.

Republicans want $5.7 billion for a wall or additional barrier. Democrats don't want money set aside for a wall.

After touring the border near San Ysidro and Otay Mesa, the lawmakers say they're convinced walls work.

"They don't only serve as a deterrent, but it's also used to slow down the people trying to cross the border, that gives our border patrol and others the time to apprehend them," said Representative Palazzo.

While they believe the wall along San Diego's border is working, they said they saw the need for reinforcements.

"There were several cuts made into it and unfortunately, people put drugs through that sometimes people. There were several incursions to that fence so we need a more impenetrable barrier. The key about the wall or a more secure barrier is the deterrent effect. It gives the agents, and they told us this, more time to apprehend someone," said Congressman Chuck Fleischmann.

The lawmakers say a wall should be just one part of a comprehensive deal on immigration and border security.

"We need so much more. We've got to expand this debate beyond that parochial scope of just a wall. People need more resources. We have talented border agents, sometimes having to serve as babysitters and sometimes having to go to the hospital with people when they could otherwise be capturing dangerous drugs," said Congressman Fleischmann.

"Funding all the way through, not just those in the fields right now, but the legal back up is going to be very important. When the administration says we have a crisis, we do, there's no doubt about that. We have a humanitarian crisis and a security crisis and that's what we've got to address," said Congresswoman Granger.

Opponents of a border wall say there is no crisis in San Diego.

"San Diego continues to be a very safe city. The biggest difference is that in the last 40 years, undocumented migration has never been so low. It has nothing to do with the wall. It has everything to do with economic opportunities in Mexico, " said Enrique Morones of the San Diego based Border Angels.

Morones said he's in favor of border security, but not a wall.

"I don't know anyone who doesn't want secure borders, but we want intelligent, humane borders and the wall is not the answer. It's not going to keep anyone safer. It's a message of hate and the whole world is watching," said Morones.

Morones encourages the lawmakers to spend more time talking to people who live and work on both sides of the border.

"I strongly recommend that when these delegations come to town, they not talk to the border patrol exclusively. They should talk to the organizations. They should talk to the people who are on both sides of the border, like myself," said Morones.

The lawmakers started their tour Sunday in McAllen, Texas. They visited El Paso Monday morning before ending the trip in San Diego. They return to Washington D.C Tuesday morning.

They have to present a bill by Friday to give both sides time to review it before the president's deadline of February 15th.