Potential 2020 candidate and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke clarified his hard-line stance against the U.S. southern border wall on Tuesday, explaining that “physical barriers” could be useful in some areas.
Mr. O’Rourke, a Texas Democrat who declared earlier this month that “walls end lives,” sparked headlines last week after he declared he would support ripping out the existing wall separating El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who is also exploring a 2020 bid, backed Mr. O’Rourke’s idea, saying she “could support” tearing down existing border barriers if “folks in that part of the country” supported it.
But Mr. O’Rourke clarified his stance Tuesday while speaking to reporters following a luncheon where he was named the 2018 El Pasoan of the Year by El Paso Inc.
Mr. O’Rourke, who narrowly lost his 2018 Senate bid to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, said his past sentiments applied only to El Paso and were part of a larger argument that he believes border walls are immoral.
“I think there is a role for physical barriers in some places,” Mr. O’Rourke said, CNN reported. “I think there are in some places a need for a physical barrier, and here’s what I would do: I would work with local stakeholders, the property owners, the communities, those who actually live there, to determine the best security solution.
“That certainly didn’t happen” when El Paso’s border wall was built a decade ago, he said. “We saw in El Paso a solution in search of a problem imposed on us by people who did not live here.”
“I’m just as concerned about border security and safety as anyone. I live here. I’m raising my kids a short walk from the U.S.-Mexico border. But we won’t achieve that safety and security through walls,” he continued, The Associated Press reported.
“Yes, let’s have security,” he added. “Let’s have safety, but let’s do it intelligently.”