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Some Utah Republicans Rally Around Trump's Border Wall After Speech

Screenshot of President Trump's Address.
Screenshot AP
President Donald Trump used his first primetime address to make an appeal for a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Reactions to President Trump’s Oval Office speech on Tuesday night fell predictably along party lines, though more Utah Republicans are openly embracing the president’s hardline stance of keeping the government shuttered as the impasse over wall funding persists.

“We have a crisis on our southern border,” Sen. Mike Lee tweeted shortly after the primetime address. “Our law enforcement personnel are being overrun. We need more [B]order [P]atrol agents, more emergency medical technicians, more immigration judges, and yes, more wall.”

He joined other Republicans on KSL Newsradio on Wednesday to reiterate support for the president’s campaign promise to extend a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border — a pledge the president once claimed Mexico would pay for.

Rep. Chris Stewart seemed to rally behind the president on Wednesday despite the growing uncertainty over how long the shutdown would last, and as many furloughed federal workers begin missing paychecks.

“I thought it was persuasive,” he told KSL’s “Dave and Dujanovic” show on Wednesday. “The Democrats voted for border security many times in the past, but they’re in such disagreement with this president that they can’t seem to come to the table and compromise on this.”

Although Stewart and others, like Rep. John Curtis, said they would be willing to negotiate over a DACA deal to protect immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, President Trump has repeatedly rejected such deals and isn’t offering one now.

Their reactions appear to contradict public opinion in Utah. An October 2018 poll by Utah Policy showed 47 percent of voters strongly opposing a taxpayer-funded border wall.

Among Republicans, however, the wall polled better, with 62 percent in support and 35 in opposition.

Sen. Mitt Romney did not issue a statement immediately following the speech, but told a reporter on Wednesday that reopening the government should be a priority. He attended a luncheon with other Senate Republicans and President Trump as talks continued during the 18th day of the shutdown.

“I think it’s important for us to complete the border wall ... at the same time, I want to see government open again,” he told a CNN reporter.

Rep. Ben McAdams, Utah’s only Democrat in Congress, joined his party in calling for the government to be reopened before Congress resumes debate on immigration policy.

“Both parties and President Trump need to work together to end the partial government shutdown,” he said. “This impasse is unproductive, unnecessary and harms our ability to resolve serious issues such as reforming our broken immigration system and lowering health care costs.”

Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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