If you recall, senior Republicans did not sound particularly excited about Donald Trump’s big, beautiful wall back during the campaign. And why would they? The GOP establishment has been as worthless in stopping illegal immigration as the Democrats. They have different reasons for turning a blind eye to the border, but it amounts to the same problem.
But an election can change things in a hurry, can’t it? Now we have House Speaker Paul Ryan turning into a border hawk, telling the world that he’s on the same page as Trump when it comes to the wall. On Wednesday, Ryan and other top House Republicans applauded Trump’s executive order directing the government to begin construction.
“This is about keeping Americans safe. We are committed to working with the administration to stop the influx of illegal immigration along the southern border, protect our homeland, and uphold the rule of law,” said Ryan. “I applaud President Trump for keeping his promise to make this a national priority.”
Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul joined Ryan in celebrating Trump’s order. “For years,” McCaul said, “Americans have demanded that Washington do its job and secure our borders. I applaud the President for moving swiftly to put in place the multi-layered barrier defenses we need to keep criminals, drugs, and potential terrorists out of our country.”
These Republicans will be held to their word. While there are already laws in place allowing for the construction of a border fence, Trump will need additional funds from Congress if he is to build the kind of wall he’s talking about. Some estimate that full construction could cost as much as $12 billion. You’re not going to find that kind of money behind the couch cushions, and it could be a while before we get reimbursed by Mexico. In the meantime, Republicans will have to find a way to put this in the budget without raising taxes.
After what we’ve seen from the GOP for the last eight years, it’s easy to be a cynic about immigration. Still, we’re hoping for the best. Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and the rest of the top congressional Republican officials have impressed us thus far with their willingness to work with the new president. As long as that continues, we may soon have a conservative party we can be proud of.
And more importantly, a country that is stronger and more secure than ever before.