CLEVELAND — U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., talking to Illinois delegates on Wednesday morning, said that he does not literally take Donald Trump’s signature pledge that he’ll build a wall to solve the immigration problems confronting the U.S.
Trump captured GOP support across America with his slogan to build a wall, which on Tuesday night propelled him to become the Republican presidential nominee, riding a wave of anti-illegal-immigrant sentiment.
Issa, who made a name for himself in Congress as the chairman of a committee that conducted many investigations of the Obama administration, told Illinois delegates at their daily convention breakfast that building a wall may not mean the bricks and mortar that some may have thought.
Trump has said that he will make Mexico pay for the wall even though Mexico’s top officials have taken it off the table for any possible consideration.
“He uses shorthand maybe a little too much. He says build a wall. We all know that’s really code for we’re finally going to fix immigration. We’re going to make it OK to come in through the front door. We’re going to make it wrong to sneak in through the back door, whether it’s climbing over the wall or coming on a visa and overstaying,” Issa said.
Talking to reporters afterwards, Issa was pressed on the matter of whether or not he was pushing back from a centerpiece of the Trump campaign, where his supporters have taken up “Build A Wall” as a siren call.
“Build a wall is code because building a wall takes care of 60 percent of the problem dealing with illegal immigration,” said Issa, the grandson of Lebanese immigrants.
While Trump has boiled down the problem of illegal immigration in the United States to “Build a Wall,” Issa noted the complexities of creating policy to deal with the various aspects of the dilemma that Congress and the White House has been grappling with for years.
“Forty percent of all people unlawfully in this country came here legally on a visa or overstayed or circumvented the system, very often claiming some status that, when rejected they just don’t leave,” Issa said. “Just as a boat needs, if you will, a whole that doesn’t leak too much, when it does leak you need a bilge pump. So build a wall is code for let’s get our immigration system to where you are legally here, we work with you. If you are illegally here you don’t get a job.”
Pressed again on whether or not there will be a physical wall between the U.S. and the Mexico border, Issa said “a wall is part of the security that allows border agents to do their job whether it’s a wall or a fence, but there is no question at all that we need more. We need immigration reform on both sides and that is going to be part of the Trump administration.”