Hoeven struggles to defend Corker-Hoeven amendment on immigration reform

Jeff Poor Media Reporter
Font Size:

On his Wednesday radio show, conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt went after North Dakota Republican Sen. John Hoeven and his “border surge” amendment to the immigration reform bill.

Hewitt asked Hoeven for specifics on the promises of a border fence, which the radio host insisted were not specifically spelled out in the amendment, co-sponsored by Sen. Bob Corker.

Partial transcript (courtesy Duane Patterson)

HEWITT: You were a governor for ten years, but I’m going to be pretty tough on you now. I just wanted to be up front about it. I do not like your amendment at all, because I think it guts the border fence.
HOEVEN: No, we actually require a total of 700 miles of border fence, and also 20,000 more border patrol agents, $4.5 billion technology plan on the border that includes sensors, radars, drones, helicopters, planes.
HEWITT: But senator —
HOEVEN: But in addition to a national, mandatory national E-verify and electronic entry/exit systems at airports and seaports.

Hewitt pressed Hoeven on the specifications on the fencing, to which Hoeven said it wasn’t “double layer,” but called it “impressive.”

But, according to Hewitt, there were no specifications. Pressed further, Hoeven admitted there were no penalties for not enforcing the law.

HOEVEN: I’d have to look back at the specs, but it’s, you know, I mean, it’s impressive fencing. It’s not the double layer you’re talking about, but it’s a significant barrier.
HEWITT: Now Sen. Hoeven, there aren’t any specs. This is my problem. I’ve read —
HOEVEN: No, see, there’s existing pedestrian fence on there, and so when we say pedestrian fence, it has a definition as to the fencing that’s already there. So —
HEWITT: But it doesn’t, it actually doesn’t. I’ve been through the law very carefully. I bring my lawyer’s, not my MBA to it, but I look at it as a Constitutional lawyer. They actually don’t have to do anything. In fact, I was going to ask you, what if they don’t turn in a strategy in 180 days? What’s the law’s penalty?
HOEVEN: They’d be breaking the law.
HEWITT: But what’s the penalty?
HOEVEN: Well, you’d obviously have to enforce the law, but I mean, it’s like, it would be like saying any law, what … they have to follow the law. They’re required to follow the law, and we would undertake an action to make sure that they do.

Hoeven went on to insist a border fence was included as a result of his amendment in the final bill.

“Hugh, again, we require the fence,” Hoeven said. “Like I say, it’s one of the triggers that has to be met before there’s any green cards. And furthermore, the only discretion we put in was to try to get it in the places where it would be most effective on that 2,000 miles border. But it doesn’t mitigate the requirement that at least 700 miles are built. So, and remember, that’s just one of the five triggers that we have in place to defend the border.”

Follow Jeff on Twitter