Union Representing 16,000 Border Agents Endorses Trump
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
The union that represents 16,000 Border Patrol agents is throwing its weight behind Donald Trump. That is a first for the National Border Patrol Council, which has never endorsed a candidate in the primaries before. The union says it's doing so now because, quote, "we need a person in the White House who doesn't fear the media, doesn't embrace political correctness and doesn't need the money." Well, the president of the Border Patrol Council is Brandon Judd. He told me he's been talking with Donald Trump, including about that wall Trump wants to build on the border with Mexico.
BRANDON JUDD: I told him, look, we don't need a wall across the entire Southwest border. He asked me why. And I was able to explain to him why. And he was very receptive to those ideas of those individuals who know what it takes to secure the border. And right now Donald Trump is that person.
KELLY: Let me follow up on this conversation you had with him. The centerpiece of Donald Trump's immigration policy is building a wall along the border with Mexico, which actually directly conflicts with what your union position is. Your union has called building walls a waste of taxpayer money.
JUDD: In certain areas, I would - absolutely. But what we're talking about is when we build walls - if you look at where the fences are currently, we have our fences in urban areas. And we have to have those fences in those urban areas. But what we need is we need a double fence. A single fence - I can't control the south side of that fence. The smugglers control the south side of the fence. I can control the north side of the fence, but I can't control the south side.
KELLY: So your sense from having spoken to him is that there is, perhaps, some flexibility in Donald Trump's policy about building this wall along the Mexican border?
JUDD: There is. There absolutely is. Whether he completely and totally agrees with all of my ideas, that's - you know, that remains to be seen. But right now he is having that discussion. And no other candidate is having that discussion. And that's what we have to have.
KELLY: And what did you make of Donald Trump, the man? Is there anything about his temperament or character that gives you pause?
JUDD: He was very calm during our conversation. He was - he was very amicable. And I imagine that these are the types of conversations he's going to be - that he's going to be having behind closed doors.
KELLY: Was this a pretty unanimous decision, Mr. Judd? Or were there - was there much debate within the union over whether to throw your weight behind Donald Trump?
JUDD: There was a lot of debate. In fact, we looked at every single candidate that there was, including Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton. And one of the reasons why there's no way that as an organization we can support her is her stance is that we've done a good job of securing the border. But the men and women of the Border Patrol will tell you that that's not true. In fact, I would invite Ms. Clinton to come patrol the border with me to see just how unsecure the border is. I just don't think that she would - she would take that invitation.
KELLY: Is your sense, having spoken to him, that Donald Trump fully has thought through his immigration policy? I ask because that is one frequent criticism that is made, is that he speaks without having fully prepared a policy in advance.
JUDD: Well, what he's shown, his willingness to reach out - I'm going to absolutely have to say that he's given it a lot of thought. He was willing to reach out to the men and women of the Border Patrol to find out what he needs to do. And he's been willing to change what some of his preconceived notions might have been. And again, we need that in a candidate.
KELLY: That's Brandon Judd. He is president of the National Border Patrol Council, which has just endorsed Donald Trump. Thanks so much.
JUDD: Thank you. I appreciate your time. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.