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Are Dems starting to break? Prominent party member signals chance for border wall accord


Says Democrats will work with Trump

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) appeared to deviate from his Democratic colleagues on Sunday by saying he "would not rule out a wall in certain instances."

"The notion that we can't have barriers is just something that's not true," Thompson said on ABC's "This Week."

What's the solution?

According to Thompson, Democrats are still willing to work with President Donald Trump.

"Mr. President, Democrats will work with you," Thompson said. "But you can't pick what Democrats you work with. We have picked our leaders, and you have to work with our leaders."

Thompson said Democrats' main concern is that the president's plan for border security appears to continually change.

"What we have to do is sit down, work through this, and let the public know exactly what we're talking about and what they can expect," he said. "And we're not there yet."

Thompson's comments came one day after President Donald Trump announced immigration-related concessions as bargaining chips for his $5.7 billion border wall proposal. Democrats and the president are locked in a budget impasse over the wall and the stalemate has led to a partial government shutdown for 30 days.

In a televised report, Trump on Saturday offered Democrats a three-year extension of protections for 700,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients, in exchange for the wall. An extension would also apply to 300,000 recipients of the Temporary Protected Status program, which protects immigrants from having to return to certain countries if their safety is at risk.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) appears unwilling to budge. She has said she will not fund the border wall under any circumstances. Early this month Pelosi said "a wall, in my view, is an immorality" and "the least effective way to protect the border and the most costly."

Progressive Democrats have supported her view. Last week, Democratic Rep. Veronica Escobar (Texas) said that "walls don't work," stop drugs, nor stop migration.

Escobar also suggested she was open to destroying existing walls, remarking that they are "really ugly" and "monuments to division."

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, (D-Md.) appeared to agree with Thompson's position Wednesday on Fox News' "Special Report with Bret Baier," the news outlet reported. He said border walls "obviously" work in some areas. He also rejected the idea that existing barriers should be removed.

What's at stake?

Lawmakers are facing increasing pressure from taxpayers and government workers who want the shutdown to end. Trump signed a bill guaranteeing back pay for the workers who have been furloughed or forced to work without pay since the shutdown began Dec. 22. Government employees could also miss their next paycheck, which is due Friday.

Democratic leaders have not always opposed a border wall. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) supported the Secure Fence Act of 2006, as did then-Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.). The Act provided about 700 miles of fencing along the border. By 2015, virtually all of the project was completed, Fox News reported.

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