Rep. Scott Peters makes a point during the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Photo by Chris Jennewein

The members of the region’s Congressional delegation may differ on the desirability of building President Trump’s border wall, but all seem to agree San Diego must maintain a strong partnership with Mexico.

“I think it’s a spite wall,” said Rep. Juan Vargas, a Democrat. “I won’t vote for a budget that has the wall in it.”

Republican Rep. Darrell Issa defended the idea of having at least a fence, but argued for more openings in it and said comprehensive immigration reform would ultimately make a wall unnecessary.

“Mexico is a partner in stemming the flow of unlawful migration,” said Issa. “We in San Diego appreciate that partnership.”

Rep. Scott Peters, a Democrat, said that for the cost of a wall the U.S. could build “an aircraft carrier and a half” to strengthen the Navy.

“We see the border as an opportunity—not a threat,” he said. “A wall is a really counterproductive idea.”

Rep. Duncan Hunter said he told President Trump that a fence would be better than a wall, but defended building it. Asked whether Mexico would pay for it, Hunter said,”We’ll see how he does that.”

The longest serving member of Congress, Susan Davis, suggested many members of Congress would vote for comprehensive immigration reform, but blamed Congressional leadership for not bringing it to a vote.

The five spoke to over 500 business and political leaders gathered at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel for the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce‘s annual Congressional luncheon.

The wide ranging discussion covered topics from North Korea to the desirability of a border tax or the investigation of Hunter over alleged campaign finance violations.

Asked about the threat from the communist North Korea, Vargas quipped that it was dangerous “having two unstable people on the world stage” to laughter and applause from the audience.

On a possible border tax, Issa took issue with his own party’s Congressional leadership. “(Speaker) Paul Ryan’s just wrong on the arithmetic. It’s nothing but a tariff,” Issa said.

Hunter was asked about the investigation and said he’d made a mistake and took care of it. “I paid it back pre-election…and moved on from there,” said Hunter.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer thanked chamber and the delegation for the annual event.

“I don’t think this happens too many places,” he said. “When it comes to issues that are important to the region, our delegation works very, very well together.”

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.