The sole Republican Congressman to represent a U.S. House District along the 2,000 mile border with Mexico, Will Hurd of Texas, “has emerged as perhaps the most persistent critic in his Party of President Trump’s Wall” reports The New York Times in its Thursday, January 17th edition. Hurd is also the only black Republican in the current House Chamber.
Its profile of Hurd notes that he is a “former undercover C.I.A. officer who won re-election on Texas’ 23rd District, ‘barely.’ The proposed Wall covers nine Congressional District in four states, and Hurd’s District is the largest of the nine.
Drawing upon his years undercover and his work in the private sector, Mr. Hurd has a starkly different vision for the Southwestern border: fiber optic cables, sensors, radar, drones, increased staffing – but not the concrete or steel barrier that Trump has demanded before he will reopen the government.
Hurd joined Democrats eight times this month to vote to reopen the government, without Wall funding.’
Says Hurd, “I have a unique perspective because I have so much border, because I have an entire career dealing with these issues. That is more important than any kind of political calculation,.”
Hurd advocates a ‘smart wall,’ a list of technologies and upgrades that would protect more than 800 miles of the Southwestern Border. He would dispense with the concrete wall or steel slats that Trump has advocated.
“Let’s make sure we’re using the right tool in the right place, Mr. Hurd said.”We should be thinking about all those different technologies and how they should be used, and when I describe this, nobody disagrees.”
Quiet, steady advocate for solutions
According to the Times’ writer, Emily Cochrane, “Hurd is not inclined to broadcast his perspective or obsessively rope in votes for his cause. He has not sought opportunities to directly lobby the President to endorse the technological barriers he has envisioned, although he notes that “key players’ are aware of his position.”
“Instead, he is content to remain on the periphery of the House Republican Conference, educating his colleagues, extending invitations to visit the border and voting the way he believes the majority of his constituents want him to.”
This has resonance in the large population of cybersecurity professionals in his District – including parts of San Antonio. The District has flipped five times between the two parties since the early 1990’s”
Hurd’s ability to navigate the electoral perils of South Texas and Capitol Hill has surprised his party allies and his opponents across the aisle. His margin of victory in November was slim. But, “Conservatives acknowledge that mr. Hurd is an asset to their conference; he has secured a temperamental electorate for now, and his intelligence, experience and status as the lone black Republican in the House Chamber make him invaluable.”
Named a member of the influential House Appropriations Committee, Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, and House Minority Leader, hailed him as “one of the most innovative and entrepreneurial members in Congress.”
Constantly in touch with other border Congressmen, all Democrats, Hurd collaborated last year on legislation to secure a path for citizenship for ‘Dreamers.’ Representative Pete Aguilar of California and Hurd “now text each other so frequently that Mr. Aguilar jokes that his wife is a little jealous of their friendship”
Says Aguilar, “It’s not lost on anyone on our side of the aisle,” about how mr. Hurd has crossed party lines to support bipartisan ideas on immigration and rebuff the president’s demands for a wall at the border.”
This article originally appeared in The Tennessee Tribune.