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Controversial Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, once considered a frontrunner to become Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s running mate, has authorized construction of a large fence around the governor’s mansion in Lansing as part of a $1.1 million security upgrade.
The 8-foot-tall electrified fence is especially galling to Whitmer critics because she has routinely criticized President Donald Trump’s construction of a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border as a way to help reduce illegal immigration and human trafficking.
She has also questioned the effectiveness of security walls but is nevertheless billing taxpayers for the expensive upgrade that will include electrified fencing because, according to local media, Whitmer is fearful of threats.
Officially, the upgrades are designed to “ensure the safety, security, and protection of any sitting governor and the first family,” according to the governor’s office.
A Biden surrogate who may well be tapped for a position in his administration if he wins in November, Whitmer has routinely criticized President Trump’s border wall. In February 2017, shortly after Trump took office, she complained that his proposed wall would be “costly and ineffective” after initially suggesting days earlier the money would be better spent somewhere else.
— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) February 5, 2017
“$40 BILLION for the wall,” Whitmer tweeted a few days after Trump was inaugurated. “Think how many kids that would educate, how many roads, bridges and pipes it would fix.”
$40 BILLION for the wall. Think how many kids that would educate, how many roads, bridges and pipes it would fix. https://t.co/R9HaqLAsMZ
— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) January 25, 2017
In 2018, she campaigned on a message of unity that did not include building “walls.”
“We must stand together, because when we do, we cannot fail. It is time we get back to building bridges. Not walls,” she wrote.
“We must stand together, because when we do, we cannot fail. It is time we get back to building bridges. Not walls.” pic.twitter.com/TARxBlnKKW
— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) June 30, 2018
“Whitmer’s skepticism of barriers extended to the coronavirus outbreak, as she was one of the last governors in the country to bar COVID-19 patients from nursing homes. She emerged as a frontrunner to be Biden’s running mate in March after clashing with President Trump on social media over the pandemic,” the Washington Free Beacon noted.
Whitmer’s administration has also opposed the president’s border wall.
Top ally Dana Nessel, Michigan’s Democrat attorney general, called the president’s February 2019 national emergency declaration to help fund the wall a “publicity stunt,” even though the administration had been dealing with a crush of migrant caravans for months.
In October 2018, for instance, Vice President Mike Pence said that a number of the caravans were being funded by Left-wing organizations, some based in Venezuela, as part of a destabilization operation.
“What the president of Honduras told me is that the caravan was organized by leftist organizations, political activists within Honduras, and he said it was being funded by outside groups, and even from Venezuela,” he said during a Fox News interview.
“So the American people, I think, see through this – they understand this is not a spontaneous caravan of vulnerable people,” he added.
As for the effectiveness of walls and barriers, they are not in dispute, especially along the porous U.S. southwestern border. For instance, a University of Illinois-Chicago study published in July found that a fence along all portions of the border where sections can be built would deter about 86,000 people from entering the U.S. illegally every three months.
“Fence construction significantly decreases the size of the likely undocumented, Mexican-born population on the U.S. side of the border and in the U.S. interior,” the study said.
As for Whitmer, her extended coronavirus business closures and lockdowns have sparked regular court fights and widespread protests from angry residents who have been forbidden from working, attending church, or engaging in other activities that are supposed to be guaranteed by the Constitution.
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