On Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) released a 30-second ad to promote a bill that would fully fund the Trump administration’s request to build a wall. It was no ordinary ad.
In several shots set to highly synthesized, electronic dance music, Ryan can be seen touring the border with a thumbs up sign on a helicopter, traveling on a boat, and riding a horse alongside members of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency.
“I had the opportunity to travel down to Texas to go to the Rio Grande Valley and spend time with our Border Patrol,” Ryan said in the video, against the bizarre backdrop of upbeat techno music. “When you see what they’re up against, it really gives you even greater respect for what they do. They clearly need more tools and more support to do their jobs effectively. That’s why we’re going to get this done this week.”
The video was shot earlier this year when Ryan visited McAllen, Texas and other parts of the Rio Grande Valley to observe border security operations.
“It’s time for The Wall. That’s why the House voted to fully fund the Trump administration’s request to build it,” read a press release that came with the video.
The construction of a border wall has been one of the most controversial campaign promises that President Donald Trump made, with members of his own party disagreeing that a physical barrier is needed across the entirety of the southern U.S. border shared with Mexico. Roughly two weeks ago, then-Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly (now the White House Chief of Staff) told a private audience in Aspen, Colorado that he convinced Trump to forgo a physical wall along the entire border. “Instead, the use of sophisticated monitoring technology, air surveillance, and fencing could secure the border with what Trump could start calling a ‘barrier,’” the New Yorker reported.
Last week, the House of Representatives approved a spending bill with nearly $1.6 billion set aside for the construction of the border wall as part of a $790 billion package to fund security-related expenses. Congress has until the end of September to pass a final spending bill to avoid a government shutdown.
Some experts place the construction of “The Wall” around $21.6 billion, an estimate that appears out of line with a fiscal conservative like Ryan. Today, border apprehensions are at historic lows and about 700 miles of a physical barrier were already constructed under the Obama administration. Environmental experts believe that a wall could prove to be an ecological disaster: animals will be unable to migrate across the two countries and livestock on privately-owned rancher land could potentially be unable to get to their water source.
On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced it would provide a waiver to bypass environmental and other land protection regulations to expedite the construction of Trump’s wall near San Diego, California.
Still, contrary to what Ryan and other Republicans would like to believe, the border wall remains deeply unpopular among people who live in border states. A majority of Americans — particularly those who live in border states — oppose funding Trump’s wall, according to a March 2017 poll.