By Ken StoneRep. Duncan Hunter posted a video Thursday showing himself at the “grand border wall in Yuma, Arizona.” He says: “It looks pretty tough to cross. Let me see if I can do it.”
He swings his legs over a horizontal rail less than waist high and declares: “There you go. That’s how easy it is to cross the border in Yuma, Arizona.”
Only he didn’t. The actual U.S.-Mexico border is the Colorado River 75-100 feet away, said a Border Patrol spokesman.
In any case, Hunter’s Facebook clip caught the eye of Ammar Campa-Najjar, the Democrat making a second run against the indicted Republican in the 50th Congressional District.
Thursday, Campa-Najjar sent Times of San Diego email with the subject line: “Hunter breaks the law violates parol,” meaning parole.
And in a phone interview, Campa-Najjar argued that Hunter “literally said: I just crossed the border.”
In August, federal Judge William Gallo set terms of Hunter and his wife’s release on bail in their campaign spending case, including an order not to leave the continental United States or travel to Mexico.
Michael Harrison, Hunter’s spokesman, called the leaving-the-U.S. accusation a “non-issue typical of someone desperate for a headline as opposed to focusing on the real issue” of border security.
(Hunter says in the video: “We expect to stop transnational terrorists, families, all illegal aliens from crossing the border. This is it.”)
Harrison said Hunter was making the point that border security in this part of Arizona was “woefully insufficient.”
“I would encourage others to look and review a map, spend time with the Border Patrol and understand what structures are in place and where they are with regards to the international border,” Harrison said via email.
Informed of Harrison’s response, Campa-Najjar at first said (via email): “Hunter’s own words: ‘Mexico is 15 meters from here’ then he … walked 15 meters and crossed the border. His own words.”
Thus Hunter either broke the law and violated conditions of his release, or was pulling a political stunt, Campa-Najjar said.
“Either way, why isn’t he in the district during recess like everyone else?”
Spokesman Harrison, in a later email, said the Border Patrol wanted a congressional delegation to see that area, since “there is nothing else there.”
The Border Patrol asked the delegation not to reveal specific locations, he said.
“It was a Border Patrol guided tour with several members of Congress. The barrier is what they have now and it is entirely on the U.S. side, just like it is here in San Diego,” Harrison said.
Border Patrol spokesman Vincent Dulesky in Yuma confirmed that in a phone interview.
“What [Hunter] crossed was a vehicle barrier,” said Dulesky, who helped lead the Wednesday night tour. “That is approximately 75-100 feet from the border — the border is actually the river that’s west of that.”
He said 10 years ago, border agents were having trouble with “drive-throughs,” so vehicle barriers were installed.
“It has now become a hot spot because that’s now where the majority of the pedestrian traffic is coming through because obviously it’s easier to transverse,” he said.
“But it’s not the boundary between Mexico and the U.S. — that’s another 75 feet west of that actual area.”
After being informed of this, Campa-Najjar said in a final email: “Can Hunter’s spokesperson please show Hunter a map? He was the one who falsely advertised he was 15 meters from Mexico. He also needs to be shown the Colorado River, which is a secondary barrier he’d need to cross to actually get to Mexico.
“As Trump says, we don’t need a wall from sea to shining sea.”
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