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story.lead_photo.caption Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks in Little Rock, Ark., at a forum hosted by The Associated Press and the Arkansas Press Association previewing this year's legislative session on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew DeMillo)

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Friday praised President Donald Trump for spotlighting the "humanitarian crisis" at the southern U.S. border, and the governor said the partial federal government shutdown has, thus far, had a minimal impact on Arkansas.

But, speaking with reporters in advance of the legislative session that begins Monday, the Republican governor also said that Trump should be cautious about usurping Congress to fund the construction of a border wall, calling such a maneuver a last resort.

Hutchinson, the former U.S. Department of Homeland Security undersecretary for border and transportation security, emphasized the plight of children being trafficked across the southern border.

"Whenever you look at border security, I do believe the president has done an amazing job, an important job in educating Americans about the humanitarian crisis and the need for enhanced border security," Hutchinson said. "We preached that message in 2003 when I was at Homeland Security, but what the president has done is raise that knowledge level and interest of the American public to a much higher level. So that's been a very positive impact."

The federal government partially shut down on Dec. 22 because of an impasse between Congress and the White House over funding for border security. Federal workers around the country have been furloughed or are working without pay.

Many federal agencies -- such as the U.S. Department of Defense and the Social Security Administration -- already had their appropriations approved and they remain operating. However, Homeland Security, the State Department, the Agriculture Department and others don't have appropriations.

In Arkansas, Hutchinson said only 10 employees at the state Department of Finance and Administration who deal with federal funds were furloughed. Additionally, seven state Crime Laboratory employees were furloughed earlier in the shutdown. All 17 have since returned to work.

State Department of Human Services spokesman Marci Manley said that 35 agency employees' positions are tied to federal programs affected by the shutdown. However, Manley said the agency doesn't expect to send those workers home.

"Furloughs and reductions in force would be a last resort for the agency, as we should be able to shift affected employees to job duties in other federally funded programs, if needed," Manley said. "We'll continue to monitor operations and staff assignments as the situation progresses and more information becomes available."

The governor said that if the shutdown drags on, the state is open to stepping in and covering "federal gaps" in Arkansas on an emergency basis. Those funds, Hutchinson hopes, would be able to be recouped when the government reopens.

He said, for example, that some shelters for victims of domestic violence have watched their funding be jeopardized, and the state could look for way to keep those shelters operable.

Hutchinson added that he'd been in touch with Arkansas' congressional delegation. He said he agreed with the approach by U.S. Sens. Tom Cotton and John Boozman to a border security compromise. The governor cited a story Friday in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette outlining the senators' support for an expansion of the E-Verify program.

The E-Verify system allows employers to determine if a job applicant is eligible to work in the U.S., but all employers aren't required to use the system.

Cotton and Boozman propose making the verification system mandatory, but agriculture industry leaders fear it could decrease output and increase food costs.

"To a certain extent, everyone agrees -- Democrats and Republicans -- we need to enhance border security," Hutchinson said. "And so we're arguing about what the investment should be. ... You're arguing over $5 billion, you take part of it and put into the E-Verify system and part of it into a border wall to move forward on the president's priority. Then this looks like where parties can agree and get the government open. But this is what happens whenever both sides draw lines in the sand and they make statements that seem to be irrevocable. It makes it harder for the parties to get together."

Information for this article was contributed by Frank E. Lockwood of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

A Section on 01/12/2019

Print Headline: Gov. Hutchinson gives views on wall, U.S. shutdown; he praises, cautions Trump


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Archived Comments

  • RobertBolt
    January 12, 2019 at 9:09 a.m.

    Asa is especially cute when he pretends relevance.

  • Knuckleball1
    January 12, 2019 at 9:27 a.m.

    The Possum Grinning Gov at his best...!!!!!

  • GeneralMac
    January 12, 2019 at 9:33 a.m.

    A whole lot more "relevant" than you, ROBERTBOLT.

  • Morebeer
    January 12, 2019 at 10:03 a.m.

    And a wall will ease the humanitarian crisis ... how? Children are being trafficked across border? Every reporter looking into it says the children are with a parent. That’s not trafficking. There’s nothing in the bills that say Trump can’t build a wall. Dems are holding him to his oft-repeated campaign promise that Mexico, not US taxpayers, would pay for the boondoggle. Trump’s pulling a bait and switch on funding.

  • GeneralMac
    January 12, 2019 at 10:11 a.m.

    DON'TSUFFER......Nancy Pelosi says she is opposed to a wall because..." a wall is immoral and not who we are"

    I doubt her opinion would change regardless who finances it.

    January 12, 2019 at 10:23 a.m.

    ASA The Professional politician Just getting in line for the "FUHRER".I can not understand.How anyone could agree with anything the LIAR says.Trump a disgrace to the office he holds.OH! To think.That the Federal Employees agree with YOUR shutdown.Trump has to delusional.

  • Seitan
    January 12, 2019 at 10:37 a.m.

    Well lookee here. The guv who allows the Christians to erect a monument on state property and who enjoys throwing poor people off their health insurance is in lock-step with Putin's puppet. No surprise there.

  • conservative
    January 12, 2019 at 10:39 a.m.

    All of this derogatory commentary (and in other threads as well) is pointless because there is nothing that a conservative, e.g. Republican, can say that will be favored by any of you liberal socialist democrats.

  • mrcharles
    January 12, 2019 at 11:15 a.m.

    Hope pelosi & shumer do not try what obama did, try to deal with those on the right side in hopes to do what is best for the country, as clearly the right looks after only the 1% , the divisionist, the haters, the hopes and dreams of the supporters of the statutes of men who killed USA soldiers, and of the theocrats [ gets confusing as there are thousands of different one true way]. Just as in helth care dealing with romney and the rich gop ILKS, even taking gop ideas you would think would be reaching out, but of course being of mixed race you know how gop deals with other than white skin, that is of GM/strom thurmond/jessie helms/bull connor type thoughts .

    AS to ASA , of whom this state in its present state of delusions, we could do worse. Yet I must note that his alma matter, the land of racial unharmony and knowing the papist are all unholy, he is use to broad sweeps of defining man made ideas and/or you must be considered as X if you were not born to the so called color skin of Jesus.

    The very basis of of orthodox conservatism is the actual segregation of the creation from the creator. This is why the word separates itself from the deed, and chaos as evidenced by DT upsets even classical conservatism. Karl marx said clearly a nation must join its dream history to the present conditions , and like Luther ,overcome bondage out of devotion by bondage our of conviction. The results, blood and soil, and a sense of superiority, belief, and be damned facts.

  • WhododueDiligence
    January 12, 2019 at 11:27 a.m.

    GMac, Pelosi said this: "A wall, in my view, is an immorality. It's the least effective way to protect the border, and the most costly."
    Many border security analysts agree there are more effective and less expensive ways to protect the border, using high-tech surveillance equipment and hiring more highly trained personnel for example. These analysts point out the Secure Fence Act of 2006--which had bipartisan support--hasn't been fully funded by congress due to problems including an assortment of inefficiencies combined with high costs estimated at $tens of billions over decades.
    Trump's wall would be even more expensive and wouldn't solve the problem because walls, like elaborate fencing, can be circumvented. The analysts also point out that building a wall makes no sense in the mountainous portion of the border because the rugged terrain presents more of a barrier than the wall would. The $5.7 billion Trump is demanding in his government shutdown is a small percentage of estimated total costs, but he wants his big beautiful wall to sooth his big ego. In reality Trump's big beautiful wall is nothing but one big ugly wasteful boondoggle.