This weekend, Donald Trump told a whopper that made Al Gore’s exaggeration of his role in “creating the Internet” seem trivial by comparison. He claimed, somewhat absurdly, that the entire idea of building a fence along the United States border was his, and that Ted Cruz was copying him. In his typical Trumpian fashion, he relayed this claim in the context of a conversation he had with his wife:
Donald Trump is accusing [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] (R-Texas) of stealing his plan to reform immigration.
The businessman said he was the first candidate in the Republican primary field to come up with the idea to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.“In fact, I was watching the other day, and I was watching Ted talk, and he said, ‘We will build a wall.’ The first time I’ve ever heard him say it,” Trump said in an interview broadcast Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”“And my wife, who was sitting next to me, said ‘Oh, look, he’s copying what you’ve been saying for a long period of time,’” he added.“And I was strong on the border, and I’m the one who came up with it.”
Well, Trump is right that Ted Cruz did not come up with this idea. However, if Trump had been a Republican for longer than about five months, he would know that he didn’t come up with this idea, either. In fact, the “idea” of building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border has been the “law” since at least 2006, and has been an “idea” for decades longer than that.
After very lengthy debate and years of grousing about the lax state of security on the border, both chambers of Congress passed – by large, bipartisan majorities – the Secure Fence and Border act of 2006, which greatly expanded both the funding and the legal authority for the construction of a physical barrier on the border with Mexico.
However, this bill was a compromise bill from the position that was favored by the majority of the Republican caucus that was set forth by [mc_name name='[mc_name name=’Rep. Jimmy Duncan (R-TN)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’D000533′ ] Hunter (R-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’H001048′ ] in 2005, which called for a wall along the entire border as well as a 100-yard border zone on the United States side. Hunter, of course, had long been a proponent of physical barriers on the border of Mexico, proposing legislation as early as 1994 to this effect.
Nor was this idea unique to [mc_name name='[mc_name name=’Rep. Jimmy Duncan (R-TN)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’D000533′ ] Hunter (R-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’H001048′ ]. In fact, the official 2012 Republican Party platform called for the completion of the fence that was funded by the aforementioned Secure Fence and Border Act of 2006.
In other words, various people in the Republican party have been advocating the construction of a physical barrier along all or part of the border with Mexico for over two decades (and probably longer than that). This position is so commonly held within the Republican party that it even is part of the official party platform. Donald Trump did not invent it when he delivered his first campaign speech of the season this year.
Of course, Trump cannot be blamed for not knowing that Republicans have been advocating starting (and then completing) the border fence for over 20 years; for most of that time, he was an active Clinton supporter and he can’t have been expected to know what the Republicans were getting up to in Congress. Maybe, though, he should have included this in some of his background research when he decided to run for the Party’s nomination for President, and before claiming that Ted Cruz stole his idea.