O'Rourke says he'd 'absolutely' take down border wall near El Paso if he could

Former Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeButtigieg picks up third congressional endorsement from New York lawmaker Klobuchar hires staff in Nevada Deval Patrick enters 2020 race MORE (D-Texas) said Thursday he would "absolutely" take down the border wall in El Paso, Texas, arguing that the structure has not made the city demonstrably safer.

MSNBC host Chris Hayes posed a question from Rep. Dan CrenshawDaniel CrenshawHouse GOP criticizes impeachment drive as distracting from national security issues Saagar Enjeti: Crenshaw's conservatism will doom future of GOP Conservatives seek to stifle new 'alt-right' movement steeped in anti-Semitism MORE about whether O'Rourke would get rid of the wall if he could "snap your fingers" and make it happen.

"Yes. Absolutely. I'd take the wall down," O'Rourke said on "All In" during an interview near the border on Thursday.


O'Rourke, who represented El Paso in Congress for three terms, added that he believes city residents would pass a referendum to remove the wall if it were put up for a vote.

Crenshaw, an adamant supporter of President TrumpDonald John TrumpPence: It's not a "foregone conclusion" that lawmakers impeach Trump FBI identifies Pensacola shooter as Saudi Royal Saudi Air Force second lieutenant Trump calls Warren 'Pocahontas,' knocks wealth tax MORE's proposed wall along the southern border, tweeted at O'Rourke on Monday night as the ex-lawmaker geared up for a rally that took place at the same time as the president's campaign event in El Paso.

The White House said Thursday that Trump will sign on legislation fro Congress that includes $1.375 billion in funding for roughly 55 miles of new barriers along the southern border. The president will also declare a national emergency to secure additional funds for the wall.

The move is likely to prompt immediate legal challenges, and comes amid resistance from Democrats and some GOP lawmakers who have said declaring an emergency will set a bad precedent for future administrations.

O'Rourke on Thursday panned the plans for an emergency declaration, arguing there's "no rational reason" for the move. 

“It’s hard to make a rational case for an emergency declaration, or troops on the border or any amount of additional border walls or border fencing or steel slats,” he said.

“The border has never been as safe and secure as it is now," he added.

O'Rourke cited data that showed El Paso's crime rate dropped sharply in the years before a barrier was installed along the border with Mexico. He noted that crime went up after the wall was constructed in 2008, but acknowledged it's unclear if the two were correlated. 

The former congressman is considered a potential candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. He has said he will make a decision on whether to run in the coming weeks.