Ryan: Border security is needed, but not a wall


By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

ELKTON

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan agrees with President Donald Trump that there needs to be security at the nation’s southern border, but a wall isn’t necessary.

Standing outside the federal prison in Elkton on Tuesday, Ryan, of Howland, D-13th, said: “I’m saying use technology, use sensors, use an [electronic] fence, use drones, use aerostats. There’s a million different technologies out there. It’s 2019. Let’s use those. We agree on border security. We don’t necessarily agree on the president’s version of border security.”

A partial government shutdown started Dec. 22, 2018, resulting from Trump’s demand for $5.6 billion in federal funds to build a border wall and the refusal of congressional Democrats to agree to that.

“I like cars, but I’m not for the Model T,” Ryan said. “I like planes, but I’m not for the glider that the Wright Brothers built. I like my phone, but I’m not for rotary-dial phones. Technology has advanced. We need to use it. It’s in the best interests of the taxpayer. It’s the best way to secure the border and the president keeps insisting, ‘No, I want $5 billion for a wall.’ He couldn’t get that through a Republican Senate right now. To blame the Democrats for this is a distraction.”

Ryan met with the media after visiting the Federal Correctional Institution at Elkton, where more than 300 employees are required to work as they are considered essential federal workers.

Union officials at the prison said workers there were paid last week, but are unlikely to receive their salary this week.

The union officials declined to take sides in the shutdown issue, saying they only want the matter to be resolved.

“I don’t have any advice one way or the other, just get it done,” said Joseph Mayle, president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 607.

He’s concerned the shutdown could go on for months and that he and other workers at the prison won’t be paid despite putting in long hours.

Ken Pittman, the union’s vice president, said “the stress of not knowing” when the shutdown will end is terrible.

“We want to see them open the government,” he said.

Ryan criticized Trump’s “callousness and selfishness” for the partial government shutdown, saying the Elkton prison workers are suffering “because of political games played by Republicans in Washington.”

He added: “It’s time for this president and the Republican Party to end this nonsense and reopen the government. This has gone on for far too long.”

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