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Flake talks border security, DACA and N. Korea after month traveling Arizona

PHOENIX — Days after President Donald Trump criticized Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake’s stance on border security during his Aug. 22 rally in downtown Phoenix, Flake self-published a brief column outlining his understanding of a physical border wall and the problems that come with it.

The Republican senator joined CNN on Sunday to express his opposition to a physical border wall that has been part of the president’s rhetoric since his run for office began.

“Obviously, all of us believe in border security,” Flake said. “It depends on what he means by ‘the wall,’ and we still haven’t really seen what he means by ‘the wall.’ If that’s a metaphor for border security, we can certainly support that. But if he’s talking about a solitary, brick-and-mortar 2,000-mile edifice on the border, then no — nobody ought to support that.

“Nobody has seen what the president is really talking about when he talks about ‘the wall.'”

Flake went into greater detail about the flaws of a physical wall in his column published last week.

I was pleased that during his visit to Arizona this week, President Trump travelled to the border community of Yuma, where “landing mat” walls have been replaced with fences, to great effect. I would invite the President to visit other stretches of the border in Arizona where walls have been replaced by fences in border communities. I should note that in some remote, mountainous areas, even border fences aren’t feasible because of the landscape. In these spaces, sensors, camera towers, and drone surveillance can help fill the void.

There are other issues with border walls. For example, the San Pedro watershed near the town of Naco in southern Arizona empties northward across the border into Arizona. A brick and mortar border wall would be either be breached during the monsoon season, or it would flood border communities on the Mexican side of the border.

Trump, during his Phoenix rally, had threatened to shut down the federal government unless the gridlocked Congress agreed to build a border wall. During his presidential campaign, he had said Mexico would pay for the wall.

Flake spent the past month touring Arizona, and much of that time included meeting with border security officials, according to his press office, which added that he had traveled 1,568 miles within the state during August.

Flake has advocated for more manpower at Customs and Border Patrol checkpoints, and pushed for the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security to hire and recruit outgoing United States veterans.

In addition to his visits with border security officials, Flake visited police departments in Phoenix, Yuma and Tucson in August, according to his press office.

He also toured the land damaged by the Goodwin Fire outside of Prescott, met with members involved with defending Arizona’s water rights and met with economic leaders to support and improve the North American Free Trade Agreement.


On CNN, Flake expressed his opposition to Trump potentially eliminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has allowed nearly 800,000 immigrants brought to the country illegally as children to remain in the U.S. and legally work.

“They should not be punished for the sins of their parents,” Flake said of the children protected under DACA. “That’s just the basic principle that we ought to follow here. They are either in school or graduated and are working — almost all of them. I think 97-some percent of them are in the workforce. To remove them in the country, to split up families like this is not the way to go.”

The White House says Trump is expected to announce the decision Tuesday.

Immigrants are bracing for the prospect of losing their jobs as their work permits end and possible deportation if the president does away with the program.


Asked about North Korea’s reportedly successful test of a hydrogen bomb late Saturday night, Flake said he believes neither sanctions nor Trump’s rhetoric of meeting the country’s aggression with “fire and fury” are helping.

“They seem intent on moving forward,” the Arizona senator said of North Korea. “Obviously, we hope that China will exercise their leverage — they have considerably more (than the United States).

“We see the limits, obviously, on economic sanctions on North Korea.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story

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