'I would not rule out a wall in certain instances': House Homeland Security chairman

Democratic House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., is interviewed on "This Week" about President Trump's new immigration proposal and the ongoing government shutdown.
6:02 | 01/20/19

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Transcript for 'I would not rule out a wall in certain instances': House Homeland Security chairman
And the democratic chair of the house homeland security committee, Bennie Thompson joins us now. Representative Thompson, you said in a statement that the president's childish behavior is causing families to struggle to pay rent and put food on the dinner table, but if Democrats are unwilling to budge at all on the funding for the border wall, don't you own some of the blame for the continued stalemate? Well, Martha, first of all, this is president trump's shutdown. Those 800,000 employees, they go to work because they have to. They're not independently wealthy, and we should pay them. We should not be in this situation. Put the people back to work and let's negotiate border security, but don't hold those 800,000 employees hostage in this situation. Democrats are for border security, but we want to talk about it. We want to make sure that what we're doing is the right thing. The notion that we have come from a wall to some other thing is moving it along, but we have to sit down and talk. The president for whatever reason, likes to talk at people rather than to people and that's not how you work things out. Could you negotiate on a wall? That's certainly the sticking point with president trump. Well, we can negotiate on border security, and I think what we're trying to get the president to understand is we'll sit down and work this out, but, you know, we all are adults, and you can't treat Democrats like something else, and so for the president as a chair of the homeland security committee, I'm saying we'll sit down and we'll talk about the situations and we'll work through it, but under the present circumstances, it's almost like a talking point rather than trying to get something established. You just heard the chief of border protection for the San Diego sector tell me barriers are an essential part of effectively controlling the border because it allows for agents to focus on specific threats like smuggling drugs and he was showing me exactly the kind of barriers that president trump was talking about, those steel slat see through -- so why are Democrats opposed to any physical wall in addition to updated technology? Well, I don't think Democrats are opposed to any physical barriers. It's just the president constantly involves his description of the wall just as he indicated Mexico was going to pay for whatever was there. So what we have to do is sit down, work through this and let the public know exactly what we're talking about and what they can expect. We're not there yet. Democrats historically have supported certain barriers, certain other things to protect this country. But I am a believer in technology. Technology is good for border security. If we do it right, then we can get -- I'm convinced the kind of border security that we need, but -- But I want to go back to I want to go back to that chief again. You said you like technology. He wants that wall. Are you standing firm that you will not negotiate on a wall itself or is there wiggle room with that wall? I'm saying that we will sit with the chief, the president or whomever and we'll work through it. So you wouldn't rule out a wall? I would not rule out a wall in certain instances. Now the notion that we can't have barriers is just something that's not true, but again, Martha, you have to have a plan and the plan that the president initially started with is not where he is now. We don't know where he will be tomorrow. Clearly Democrats are for border security, but we are not for this constantly moving the ball just for a talking point. Mr. President, Democrats will work with you, but you can't pick what Democrats you work with. We have picked our leaders and you have to work with our leaders and I encourage you to do that. The president called the situation at the u.s./mexico border a humanitarian crisis and we just showed you the dire conditions that we saw firsthand down there. Do you agree with the president that there is a humanitarian crisis at the border even if you don't think it's a national security crisis? Well, let's back up for a minute, Martha. This is a humanitarian crisis that's been exaggerated by this administration and his policies. So if he accepts responsibility for what he has created, then we can fix it, but if he is trying to fan the flames that all these people here are doing that, and not accepting responsibility, then that's disingenuous on his part. Democrats have always supported humanitarian efforts all around the world. Not just on the southern border. So we are prepared to work through the humanitarian crisis, but he can't change the policies that create more humanitarian crises in the process. Just like the separation of children, that was part of the crisis that was created. Now we found out that this was a contrived theory that they had put in place before to do this as part of their being against immigration. So Mr. President, if you are genuinely concerned about a humanitarian crisis, then let's talk about some reasonable policies and solutions. Democrats will work with you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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