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After deployment to US border, Rep. Adam Kinzinger says he backs Trump’s emergency declaration for wall

Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. (Hudson Institute/Flickr)
February 25, 2019

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, recently back from an Air National Guard deployment to the U.S.-Mexico border, said Sunday he won’t vote to block President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration to build a wall along the United States’ southern boundary.

Kinzinger, a Channahon Republican, said that during his deployment he saw “disturbing” scenes that warrant Trump’s national emergency declaration.

“I went down there kind of undecided,” the U.S. Air National Guard pilot said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” Sunday. “I think if this was just an issue of immigration it wouldn’t constitute a national emergency, but what I saw was really disturbing,” and a security threat, he said. “What I saw was a lot of people coming over the border, a lot of drugs (on) the border and a lot of human trafficking. I mean these coyotes … get paid a lot of money to bring groups over and then desert them to save their own backside — it was extremely disturbing.”

Trump’s national emergency declaration has triggered intense debate over whether the president is overstepping his constitutional authority.

And, Kinzinger’s comments come as House Democrats push for a vote as soon as Tuesday to block Trump’s emergency declaration. The move will get bipartisan support, but Kinzinger said he wouldn’t support the measure to block Trump because he believes the move meets constitutional muster.

“I won’t vote to try to block it,” he said. “Look, I wish this would have happened a different way. I voted for comprehensive immigration reform. I think Republicans, the Democrats both have good ideas” about immigration reform that is compassionate and welcoming.

“Face the Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan questioned the need for a wall, pointing to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol statistics showing apprehensions on the U.S.-Mexico border at an all-time low. But Kinzinger questioned that, saying during his deployment, which began in mid-February, he saw so many people crossing into the United States that it was tough for border agents to keep up.

“From my experience there were many, many groups that we would see on technology with camera radar or something like that that we could not go address because there were not enough border patrol agents,” he said. “These agents sometimes left to take a truck and then walk two miles through terrible terrain to get to these groups only to have them run while they’re already exhausted and they get lost in that chaos. So is it down? Maybe.”

Kinzinger, whose 16th District stretches from Watseka, near the Indiana border, west to Dixon and north to Rockford and the Wisconsin border, was deployed several weeks ago and was “serving on active duty in his capacity as Lieutenant Colonel,” according to a statement from his office. “As with previous border missions while elected, the Congressman will stay within the United States.”

Elected to Congress in 2010, Kinzinger is a pilot and has flown RC-26s for surveillance and reconnaissance.

Kinzinger has not always sided with Trump. Ahead of the 2016 presidential election, Kinzinger told CNN he wouldn’t back Trump.

And during the recent federal government shutdown — triggered by a stalemate over the border wall — he tried to ride middle, telling CNN that Democrats and Republicans would have to compromise. “It’s just nobody wants to give anyone a win or anything else. We’ve got to get past this or we’re going to continue in this stupid shutdown idiocy cycle for the rest of our time out here.”


© 2019 the Chicago Tribune

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