GOP Rep. Will Hurd calls wall "least effective" border security measure

Texas Rep. Hurd: Border wall "least effective"

As the partial government shutdown enters day 28 with no talks planned to break the stalemate over funding for President Trump's border wall, Republican Congressman Will Hurd is calling on a solution to U.S. border security with an emphasis on technology — not a physical barrier.

"Building a wall from sea to shining sea is the most expensive and least effective way to do border security," Hurd told "CBS This Morning" Friday. "We should be using technology. DHS, Department of Homeland Security, has new programs they're trying to implement but guess what? You can't implement them because the government is shut down. … Let's talk about the Secure Fence Act that everybody passed, let's double down on technology along the border."

Hurd is the only GOP member representing a district along the southern border, and his happens to include more of the border than any other district. He is also one of just a few House Republicans who have voted with Democrats to reopen government agencies.

"I think the way we end this is stop with the preconditions, have everybody come together, let's stop worrying about a Democratic solution or a Republican solution and come up with an American solution," he said.

But President Trump has remained steadfast that he will not go along without $5.7 billion in funding for his wall, which he says will address the "crisis" at our border and stem the flow of illegal immigrants. Rep. Hurd argued that if border security is what's at stake, then it's imperative that we reopen the government agencies responsible for protecting it.

Government shutdown that began over border security now a petty political battle

"We should be able to secure our border but the people that are involved in securing our border right now are not getting paid and so the people that are keeping us safe, not getting paid, they should be able to get paid for their work. This is having an impact on cybersecurity as well because there's officials within DHS who are protecting our digital infrastructure. Not all of them are on staff. When they're fully staffed, we don't have enough people," Hurd said.

Airports have been hit particularly hard during the shutdown as TSA screeners working without pay are protesting and increasingly calling in sick. Hurd, a former intelligence official, said not having full TSA staffing at our airports is "dangerous" in part because it's "easier for a terrorist … to get a fake passport from Europe and get on a plane and come through our ports of entry."  

"That's why TSA is so important, and the fact that they are some of the lowest paid federal employees in the entire government, the fact that they're having to work without getting paid, the fact that they're having to call in sick because they can't pay for day care and they have to take care of their kids," he said.

The Texas Republican repeatedly called for members of both parties to put politics aside and look for common ground — something he sought to do during a road trip with Texas Democrat Beto O'Rourke in 2017.

"He inspired a lot of people. He's honest, he's charming, he's willing to work with folks. I got to have an experience with him when we did the road trip where we learned way more unites us than divides us as a country and that's something that I think he understands," Hurd said.

Asked about the speculation that O'Rourke is considering a 2020 presidential run and whether he'd be a good candidate, Hurd said he thinks "he's going to have a difficult time."

"This is something that he's going to have to explore and talk with his family. I think a lot of people are excited about his potential candidacy."