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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

  • carpenterretired
    January 12, 2019 at 11:31 a.m.

    As to the morality of how one deals with strangers(wall or not) as fellow humans (regardless of skin color) there is the problem (big one for the general racist ) of the content of the Gospel of Matthew plus the other Gospels, for Trump supporters and many conservatives including Asa (true excels in public piety) on judgement day.

  • SeanJohn
    January 12, 2019 at 11:36 a.m.

    DONTSUFFER, did you just get here from south of the border? It’s well documented that unaccompanied minors have been crossing the southern border for years. I went back to an Obama era (2015) article in the Washington Post that stated in October and November alone more than 10,500 children crossed the southern border by themselves, the vast majority from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. And in June alone of that year 10,600 minors crossed the border. But, you say that today’s media says that Every reporter looking into it says that the children are now accompanied by a parent. Are we to believe that under the Trump admin that minors have stopped crossing the border alone? Or maybe you’re just making stuff up, or Today’s media is just making stuff up? Which is it? And, would that many unaccompanied minors not be considered some sort of humanitarian crisis? The fact is many children are lured by people on the south side of the border, told where to cross, and told who to find on the northern side who take the children and subject them to labor and other “trades” I don’t even want to mention. And who has forgotten the 10 undocumented migrants that died in the back of a tractor trailer in Texas in 2017? The driver’s co-defendant was an undocumented immigrant living in Laredo. I can only imagine he was the northern contact of the coyote operation sending immigrants across the border. Not that any of this would change with Trump’s wall, but don’t f***ing say that no minors are coming across unaccompanied and don’t disagree with Asa or Trump for saying there is a humanitarian crisis just because someone outside the Dem party said it. People are dying crossing terrain to get into the US illegally and that is a crisis. And Libs wonder why many conservatives think the media is fake. DONTSUFFER just proved it. Or, he or she is a liar.

  • conservative
    January 12, 2019 at 11:38 a.m.

    Perhaps you might pay attention to these numbers:
    The U.S. jobless rate dropped to 3.7 percent in September — the lowest since 1969, though the economy added a lower-than-expected 134,000 jobs.
    Average earnings rose 8 cents, to $27.24 per hour last month.
    The Fed is forecasting the economy will grow 3.1 percent this year.
    Fed prime interest rate is 5.5/%.
    30 year mortgage rate is 4.45%.

  • JA40
    January 12, 2019 at 12:13 p.m.

    When I asked a conservative friend of mine,'Where did you learn that?' he said, 'I read it'. Nuf said.

  • conservative
    January 12, 2019 at 12:34 p.m.

    As I previously mentioned, there is nothing to be said that can compete with the Newspeak of INGSOC ...never read anything.

  • Skeptic1
    January 12, 2019 at 12:44 p.m.

    Even Cher is out there Tweeting to Nancy "Fund the **cking wall!" Nancy, Schumer, and Hillary, all voted to fund the wall, this is their personal pathological hatred of Trump. Dontsufferfools....there are thousands of children are in US custody in centers because coyotes used them to cross. Get your facts straight, Google the number of women raped trying to cross, and the number of US citizens murdered or otherwise victimized by illegal aliens.

  • UoABarefootPhdFICYMCA
    January 12, 2019 at 2:08 p.m.

    If Jesus didnt want me to have a wall he would never have told me to buy a sword.
    Dont go to OT because thats a different incarnation of the Word.
    Israel has a wall today and if you cannot cogitate why both sides of the isle NEED mass immigration you simply have no love for your neighbors. So its a double negative, you can say its your dying neighbors but it's really not.

  • Skeptic1
    January 12, 2019 at 2:56 p.m.

    Too those who have aligned with Pelosi and Chuck. They are both mega rich and live behind gated walls as do millions of other Americans, plus their body guards carry the guns they claim to oppose. We have walls and fences not because we hate our neighbors, but because we love their families. There is no logical or practical difference a physical barrier at the border and the fence around your yard. Your only reason for objecting is because you are parroting the talking points of the Trump derangement syndrome crowd. Stop being a lemming.

  • Skeptic1
    January 12, 2019 at 3:01 p.m.

    Before the grammar police pounce I hit send before editing, here is the edited version. "To those who have aligned with Pelosi and Chuck, they are both mega rich and live behind gated walls as do millions of other Americans, plus their body guards carry the guns they claim to oppose. We have walls and fences not because we hate our neighbors, but because we love our families. There is no logical or practical difference between a physical barrier at the border and the fence around your house. Your only reason for objecting is because you are parroting the talking points of the Trump derangement syndrome crowd. Stop being a lemming.

  • Packman
    January 12, 2019 at 3:23 p.m.

    Hey GenMac - Know how you can tell when Nancy Pelosi’s lying? Anythime her mouth is moving. She knows walls are necessary and work. Otherwise she would be demanding the wall between San Diego and Mexico would be torn down. She’s being patently dishonest, and she knows it.
    For those that speak of drones and cameras as the answer to borders security I have a challenge for you. Next time you leave your house leave the front door standing wide open but make sure your cameras are working and your drone on patrol. You will have some great video of bad guys stealing your stuff. And your loss will be well deserved.