Commentary: Rep. Collin Peterson should now step forward and go to work on border security

If he doesn’t, the working men and women of Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District will no doubt be considering someone else to represent them in Washington.

Collin Peterson

It’s time for our Representative Collin Peterson to put works behind his words on immigration and actively urge his Democrat colleagues to back President Trump’s border wall. He should, at this time, make actual use of his influence within the Democratic House Caucus to provide for our country’s security and work to assist President Trump on this most significant issue.

Earlier this month, Mr. Peterson said he would support President Trump on border security, arguing that it’s not worth fighting over border wall funding because the U.S. government will eventually build the wall anyway.

“Give [President] Trump the money,” Peterson said in a radio interview. “I’d give him the whole thing … and put strings on it so you make sure he puts the wall where it needs to be. Why are we fighting over this? We’re going to build that wall anyway, at some time.”

Peterson, who has represented Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District since January 3, 1991, is mindful of the support that his constituents have for President Trump’s border wall. According to a new Public Opinion Strategies poll, voters in 10 Democrat-controlled districts that voted for President Trump in 2016 support building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border by a convincing 53 percent to 43 percent margin.

The survey also found that 61 percent of respondents support the President’s stance on border security more broadly, compared to only 35 percent who oppose it. The average job approval rating for the Democrat representatives in those districts, meanwhile, hovers in the range of 20-35 percent.

Rep. Peterson has managed to hold onto his seat for now over 28 years, so he’s had plenty of time to see what happens to politicians who fail to back their bold words with real action.

It’s all well and good for him to echo the sentiments of his constituents in an interview, but if Mr. Peterson always felt this strongly about the futility of obstructing President Trump’s border wall, he should combine those sentiments with immediate and strenuous efforts toward a compromise.

“I don’t know how we get [to a deal],” he explained at the time. “The White House hasn’t called me. When I bring up what I have to say [to the Democrats], they look at me cross-eyed.”

As the long-serving lawmaker who chairs the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Peterson shouldn’t just take cross-eyed looks from Nancy Pelosi for an answer. He should use his influence to push for a compromise that ends the partisan standoff and ensures real border security for voters in his district and across the country.

If he doesn’t, the working men and women of Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District will no doubt be considering someone else to represent them in Washington.

Scott Van Binsbergen is a business owner and resident of Montevideo