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Rep. Will Hurd differs with Trump on NAFTA, border wall

Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, represents a unique district: It's big, it's a perennial battleground...and it runs nearly half the length of the U.S.-Mexico border. It has also given him a perspective on border issues that differs from President Trump's.

"I think he is focused on a few pieces and not looking at the total puzzle," Hurd said of Mr. Trump's penchant for bashing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). It is the 24-year-old trade deal among the U.S., Mexico and Canada that candidate Trump called a "disaster" throughout the 2016 campaign. The president decided this week to renegotiate it, after threatening repeatedly to withdraw altogether.

Hurd says the United States needs to stay remain a part of NAFTA, but agrees changes must be made.

"If you just look at the trade imbalance issue...with Mexico --  services aren't included in that. If a product goes back and forth across our border four times, it's hard to account for that," Hurd told CBS News Chief White House Correspondent and Political Director Steve Chaggaris on the latest edition of "The Takeout" podcast. "The number of...Mexican citizens that are driving up to San Antonio, Texas, and shopping in our malls, and eating in our restaurants - that's not factored in. And so I think understanding the complete picture is important."

Listen to this episode on Stitcher

Hurd's Texas district, which spans "29 counties, two time zones, and 820 miles of the border" was won by Hillary Clinton in November. Its political diversity contributes to Hurd's divergence from Mr. Trump on several issues, including the building of a border wall.

"Building a wall from sea to shining sea is the most expensive and least effective way to do border security," he said. "You can't have a one-size-fits-all solution to border security."

He predicted that while "build that wall" may have been an effective campaign slogan, real action in curbing illegal immigration will go much further for Mr. Trump when he runs for re-election.

"The fact that people are realizing that this administration is going to enforce our laws is preventing folks from coming here -- and with also the expectation that it's going to be even more difficult to traverse the border," said Hurd.

"Those are great things to be able to campaign on rather than, I built some structure over x number of miles."

For more from Hurd's conversation with CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett and CBS News Political Director Steve Chaggaris, listen to "The Takeout" podcast, available on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher and And follow "The Takeout" on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter: @TakeoutPodcast.

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