Rep. Lowey on Border Security Compromise: 'This Is Not a Wall, This Is a Barrier'

By Susan Jones | February 12, 2019 | 7:06am EST
Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) at a March 28, 2017 hearing on Capitol Hill. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

( - Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), one of the border security negotiators, said Tuesday morning that she and her fellow conferees have reached a deal that will give President Trump far less than the $5.7 billion he has requested for a border wall.

"This is not a wall. This is a barrier, these are fences," Lowey told CNN's "New Day" early Tuesday morning. "I think $1.375 (billion) is a good number."

Details of the deal were supposed to be kept secret, Lowey said, but she did not disagree with reports that the deal gives President Trump $1.375 for 55 miles of a border "barrier."

Democrats originally pushed to reduce the number of ICE detention beds, but reports say they've agreed to keep the number at the current 40,520. And the Department of Homeland Security would get an additional $1.7 billion to upgrade border technology, ports of entry, and other security measures.

"This is a compromise," Lowey said.

"No one got everything they wanted, but it does secure the border, it does represent our values. And I am cautiously optimistic we can get support from Republicans and Democrats, people who really want to keep the government open, want to secure our borders and want to do the right thing for all the parties who are involved in this."

Lowey said the compromise bill is "thick" and contains "a lot of details."

At his rally in El Paso, Texas Monday night, President Trump said he would never sign a bill that limits ICE detention space, thus forcing the release of criminal aliens into U.S. communities. In Trump's words: "I will never sign a bill that forces the mass release of violent criminals into our country."

Although Trump has not yet commented on the compromise border security deal, Lowey said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is okay with it -- despite Pelosi's Jan. 31 declaration that "there's not going to be any wall money in the legislation."

"No one wants to shut down the government," Lowey said. "We all want to protect our borders. We understand how important it is to have Homeland Security working effectively, responsibly, doing the job they're supposed to be doing.

"So I feel confident we can get together and pass this. And I want to make it clear, this is a bill that the Speaker supports. We have discussed it. There is strong support from all parts of our caucus. And I feel confident we can get this done."

Already, some conservatives are rejecting the border security compromise.

"$1.3 billion?" Sean Hannity asked on Monday night. "That's not even a wall, a barrier...Any Republican that supports this garbage compromise, you will have to explain."

And Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) tweeted Monday night: "While the President was giving a great speech in El Paso, Congress was putting together a bad deal on immigration. #DoWhatWeSaid."

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