WASHINGTON – Many voters surveyed outside 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. told PJM that President Obama should support a wall or barrier on the border since the White House fence is being doubled in height for security reasons.
Both President Obama and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton have criticized Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s plan to build a barrier on the U.S.-Mexico border to stop illegal immigration and drug smuggling.
“The cost of building a permanent border wall pales mightily in comparison to what American taxpayers spend every single year on dealing with the fallout of illegal immigration on their communities, schools and unemployment offices,” Trump’s campaign website reads.
According to Department of Homeland Security data, there is currently 36.3 miles of “double-layered” fencing on the 2,000-mile long southwest border. Different fencing to keep out vehicles is present at other parts of the border but roughly 1,300 miles are not protected with any barrier.
PJM asked people outside the commander in chief’s residence if they agreed with the approved plan to raise the White House fence by approximately 6 feet, a move prompted by recent fence-jumpers.
“I think it’s funny because the Democrats are against the wall at the border but they want to have more and more fences around where they are located, so that’s just a double standard to me,” a resident of Fairfax, Va., told PJM. “It [The White House] was built a long time ago and it was built in a way that people could see where the president of the country lives, and I think people ought to be able to see where the president lives so I think it’s not the best idea.”
He emphasized that he personally supports having a wall along the border. He said the height of the White House fence should not be raised under a Democratic administration that opposes a wall at the border.
“If Obama does not support that [a wall] then what he supports is not in line with building more fences here, OK? I’m all for it if they want to add Secret Service agents and put more boots on the ground — that makes sense,” he said. “I don’t think the Democrats should do that [raise the fence] only because they don’t support a wall down on the border — that’s all I’m saying.”
A young voter from New Jersey told PJM that he approves of the fence height increase at the White House and also wants to see a wall built on the border as a security measure.
“It’s a good idea just to be safe,” he said. “I’m a big Donald Trump fan. I’m 18 so I can vote.”
A voter from Tennessee said raising the height of the fence is a waste of money.
“They’ve got so many guards, why spend a lot of money to make it any higher? I mean, I am not supposed to answer your question with a question,” she replied. “I think it’s a waste of money, really, he’s [President Obama] not there that often.”
She added that the money the federal government is spending to raise the fence should be put toward border security instead.
“I go with the border, yes, but not raise this, the money they are going to spend on this, put it on the border,” she said.
Another Tennessee resident said she has the same opinion on the fence and the border wall.
“There are so many guards and so many people around — it’s a waste of money and time,” she said. “Stop the refugees from coming in, I mean, because you don’t know who is a terrorist and who is not. You need to focus on the more important things than somebody climbing the wall or fence of the White House.”
A young voter walking by the camera stopped briefly to hear the question and agreed with the plan to raise the height of the White House fence. When asked if he agreed with those who think there should be a similar barrier on the border, he replied, “I don’t like politics. I don’t get wrapped up in things like that but you are right, you have a good point, I will say that.”
A Texas resident said she supports a higher fence at the White House and more border security.
“If it keeps them safer, sure,” she said of the fence.
PJM asked if she would also support a similar barrier being put along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“I’m not sure if a wall would do it, but I support border security,” she responded.
An immigrant from Haiti said he opposes raising the fence.
“They should keep it the same height. It’s more beautiful like that — that’s the way it should stay, because that’s initially the way they put it. Why not leave it like that?” he said.
He is also against having a similar barrier along the border. “Don’t put a wall, for what? No,” he replied.