U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly shot down former President Barack Obama's comments that President Donald Trump's administration is trying to "hide behind a wall" to keep from reaching out to those in need.
"We're not hiding behind a wall," Kelly told "Fox and Friends" on May 26, according to the Washington Examiner. "We're constructing a physical barrier backed up by technology and of course the great men and women of the Customs and Border Protection to simply safeguard our southern border."
Kelly's comments came one day after Obama criticized the wall plans on May 25 while giving a speech in Berlin, Germany, in which he spoke about the importance of humanitarian aid.
"In this new world that we live in, we can't isolate ourselves," Obama said. "We can't hide behind a wall."
The former president also urged listeners to keep rising nationalism and xenophobia at bay, adding, "We have to push back against those trends that would violate human rights or suppress democracy or restrict individual freedoms."
Kelly disagreed that the wall would encourage any of those abuses.
"It's not going to impede in any way the legal crossing of millions of people a week," Kelly said of the proposed wall separating the entirety of the U.S.-Mexico border, according to The Blaze. "Mexicans and all other nationalities, Americans going south and north [and] normal commercial traffic will move, but we're not hiding behind a wall, and you can't defend anything by hiding behind something."
Trump made the border wall a central issue during his presidential campaign, pledging to separate the U.S.-Mexico border with a physical barrier to be paid for by Mexico. While his administration is still looking to get started on the wall, the president has since amended the payment plan, requesting $1.6 billion in taxpayer money from Congress to begin construction and suggesting that Mexico might later reimburse America for the wall.
Legislators have introduced other methods of paying for the wall, including adding a 2 percent tax on money transferred from the U.S. to Mexico and a number of nations in the Caribbean and Latin and South America, according to Forbes.
The bill, called the Border Wall Funding Act of 2017 and introduced by Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, would subject personal, and not business, transfers to the fee.
"This bill is simple -- anyone who sends their money to countries that benefit from our porous borders and illegal immigration should be responsible for providing some of the funds needed to complete the wall," said Rogers on March 30, according to Forbes. "This bill keeps money in the American economy, and most importantly, it creates a funding stream to build the wall."