Students were also upset with the tone of a 2005 remark by then-Senator Barack Obama who said, “We simply cannot allow people to pour into the United States undetected, undocumented and unchecked.” Less than a year later, Obama and 25 other Senate Democrats voted for the Secure Fence Act, the 2006 legislation that authorized the construction of 700 miles of barriers along the southern border.
Phillips also read a statement Hillary Clinton made on the campaign trail in 2015, where she defended her numerous votes to “spend money to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in.” She underscored, “I do think you have to control your borders.”
Some of the students laughed nervously when they learned the statements were made by Democrats. Others were at a loss for words. One student smiled and noted, “That’s interesting.”
President Trump took office with a signature campaign promise to build a wall, a proposal that has been denounced as wasteful, unnecessary and “medieval” by his critics. But over the past decade, Democrats have supported billions of dollars in funding for physical barriers and taken a hard line against illegal immigration.
In light of these changes in the party’s approach to border security and the coverage of the issue, Phillips wanted to conduct an experiment. He told Sinclair Broadcast Group, “I wanted to go out and to see if people would view the quotes differently if they thought they came from President Trump.”